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Re-forming the Nation in Literature and Film - Entwürfe zur Nation in Literatur und Film

The Patriotic Idea in Contemporary German-Language Culture- Die patriotische Idee in der deutschsprachigen Kultur der Gegenwart


Julian Ernest Preece

In the year that Europe commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of World War I and the European Union faces a crisis of legitimacy, the national question is once again being posed across the Continent. This volume assesses how contemporary German-language writers and filmmakers have approached this troubled question over the last decade. It addresses whether the collective entity known as Germany should more properly be conflated with the Federal Republic, with its successful sixty-five-year history (‘the best Germany we have ever had’), rather than the ‘nation’ with all its tainted connotations and corrupted concepts such as ‘Vaterland’. Contemporary Germany is a product not only of its history up to 1945 but also of the process of understanding that history and acting upon that understanding since the defeat of National Socialism. Each of the sixteen essays collected here illuminates a different segment of a bigger picture, whose shape and shades are themselves evolving. Presented as a whole their purpose is to provoke further discussion among observers of the contemporary German-speaking scene.
In dem Jahr, in dem Europa den 100. Jahrestag des Ausbruchs des Ersten Weltkriegs begeht, und die Europäische Union eine Legitimitätskrise durchmacht, stellt sich in ganz Europa wieder einmal die ‘nationale Frage’. Dieser Band zeigt Antworten von deutschsprachigen Autoren und Filmemachern aus den letzten zehn Jahren. Es wird gefragt, ob es nicht passender wäre, das unter dem Namen ‘Deutschland’ firmierende Kollektiv als ‘Bundesrepublik’ zu erfassen, und somit die Idee der ‘Nation’ mit all seinen Brüchen – bis hin zum verpönten ‘Vaterland’ – zu verabschieden. ‘Das beste Deutschland, das es je gegeben hat’ zeichnet immerhin eine Erfolgsgeschichte seit 65 Jahren. Das heutige Deutschland ist ohne Zweifel ein Produkt seiner Geschichte bis 1945, aber auch von Prozessen des Verstehens und der Verständigung über diese Geschichte seit dem Ende des Nationalsozialismus. Jeder der sechzehn Beiträge in diesem Band beleuchtet ein Fragment eines größeren Bilds, das selbst ständig im Umbruch ist. Als Ganzes sollen diese Beiträge die Debatte unter Beobachtern der heutigen deutschsprachigen Welt anregen.


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ANIELA KNOBLICH ‘Irgendwo stehen geblieben zwischen Mann und Frau’


: Gendered National Identities in Contemporary German Travel Writing1 There has been a boom in German travel writing since the 1990s. This has resulted in a large and multifaceted corpus of travelogues by German authors who went to explore their own country after the political caesura of 1989. The travellers are looking for orientation and a new (national) identity in the face of a politically changed and geographically augmented German landscape. They want to explore what can be regarded as typically German, to find out what East and West Germans have in common and also to see what separates them. Last but not least, they are trying to define their own position within the new setting. The travelogues reveal a new German attitude, partly through reporting what others say to them on their journeys and partly through their constructed perspective. It is striking that the vast majority of the authors are men of West German origin. While there is practically no restriction in age (Ralph Giordano was 75 when he embarked on his journey; Tobias Zick, 28), there seems to be a highly ef fective division concerning gender and origin.2 There are exceptions. Both Landolf Scherzer and Christoph Dieckmann are 1 I would like to thank Jennifer Moos (Saarbrücken/Los Angeles) for numerous inspir- ing conversations and Victoria Taf ferner (Berlin) for proofreading this article. 2 Ralph Giordano (b.1923), Deutschlandreise. Aufzeichnungen aus einer schwierigen Heimat (Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1998). Tobias Zick (b.1977), Heimatkunde. Zu Fuß und allein durch die Provinz (Freiburg...

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