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Performing the Modern German

Performance and Identity in Contemporary German Cinema


Matthias Uecker

Since the late 1990s, German cinema has gone through a period of astonishing productivity and success that has made it the focus of scholarly analysis once more. What can contemporary German cinema tell us about current German society and its problems? What are the distinguishing features of filmmaking in Germany today?
This book analyses the representation of individual and collective behaviour in post-unification German cinema. It looks at performances of gender, ethnicity and nationality in a wide range of contemporary German films. Using Performance Theory as a framework, the book discusses how modern German identities are presented as conformist, liberating or subversive responses to external challenges.
Theoretical considerations regarding the efficacy of performance and the dialectical relationship between transgression, resistance and normalization form the background for an analysis that investigates contemporary German films in terms of their function within the restructuring of post-unification German society.


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Work on this book has been supported through institutionally funded research leave; I am grateful to the University of Nottingham and the Department of German for their support. Early versions of Chapters 2, 3 and 4 were presented at conferences organized by the Association of German Studies and by Julian Preece and Frank Finlay. Feedback from participants has helped me to sharpen my argument. An earlier version of Chapter 3 has been published previously under the title ‘Belief, Ritual and Identity: Performances of Jewishness in Contemporary German Cinema’ in Julian Preece, Frank Finlay and Sinéad Crow, eds, Religion and Identity in Germany Today. Doubters, Believers, Seekers in Literature and Film (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2010), 25–46. Professor Elizabeth Boa generously provided feedback and advice throughout and helped to reign in some of my Germanisms.

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