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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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MATTHIAS UECKER National Identity for International Audiences?


Identity Constructions in Post-unification German Cinema I Representations of national identity have been a productive topic in German Film Studies and in the non-academic reception of German cinema for a very long time. Assumptions about a ‘national character’ that was ref lected in the aesthetic style, narrative constructions or thematic concerns have characterised the reception of German films ever since Expressionism was first identified as an apparently authentic expression of German culture in the 1920s. Equally, German directors and screen authors have frequently been concerned with the task of identifying and shaping stories and images ‘from this country’, both for critical and apologetic purposes. And last, but not least, the link between a specific group of films and the concept of national identity has also been used as a marketing tool in directing audience expectations, both for the domestic market and – perhaps more crucially – international audiences. ‘German cinema’ works as a label which positions specific films against French, British, Chinese, and of course most of all, American films and promises distributors, critics and audiences something special which they will not find elsewhere. In this chapter, I will concen- trate on this latter aspect. Instead of analysing yet again the ideological project of post-unification identity constructions in a domestic context, I want to consider the position of German cinema, or, more specifically: cinematic presentations of stories and images from and about Germany in the international arena. 138 MATTHIAS UECKER In a business which despite the availability of state subsidies and televi-...

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