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Illusions of Progress

Christa Wolf and the Critique of Science in GDR Women’s Literature


Brigitte Rossbacher

This study shows how considerations of gender are implicated in the critique of scientific-technological progress expressed by East German women writers. It focuses primarily on Christa Wolf (1929-), widely considered the most prominent living author of the former German Democratic Republic. Tracing the transition from Wolf’s early orthodox Marxism to her indictment of the GDR’s ideology of progress, it reveals how Wolf’s narratives resonate with cultural politics, global issues, and Western feminism. It also offers substantive interpretation of thematically related texts by Monika Maron (1941-) and Helga Königsdorf (1936-). Like Wolf, these authors employ dreams, fantasy, and myth to play out possibilities for social change.