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Entering History

Feminist Dialogues in Irmtraud Morgner’s Prose


Silke von der Emde

This book offers a thorough examination of the novels of Irmtraud Morgner (1933-1990), one of the most talented, compelling and overlooked writers within East German feminist and avant-garde circles. Using a combination of theoretical approaches – including Adorno’s aesthetic theories and Bakhtinian analyses of dialogism and the carnivalesque – the author traces Morgner’s engagement with postmodernist aesthetic strategies back to her efforts, beginning in the early 1970s, to pose questions about effective political practices. Morgner’s work sheds new light on the fraught relationship between GDR intellectuals and the state, a hotly debated topic that marks most recent attempts to understand literary culture in the German Democratic Republic. Situating Morgner’s fiction at the intersection of postmodern and feminist theory, this study also offers new evidence for viewing literature from the GDR as significantly more complex and aesthetically interesting than has been previously assumed.
Contents: Biographical Details – The Cultural Debates of the 1960s – The Reception of Life and Adventures of Trobadora Beatrice in East and West – Dissenting Voices in the GDR – FRG Criticism (1974-76) – FRG Criticism (1985-90) – U.S. German Studies (1976-83) – Morgner’s Novel Today: «Kein Ort, Nirgends?» – Morgner’s Use of History and Myth – Morgner’s Concept of Author – Subjectivity, and Representation – Woman as Author – The Historicity of Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory – Feminism in the Early Seventies – Morgner’s Postmodern Feminism – Intertextual Games – The Postmodernism Debate – Antipodean Artists and Tightrope Walkers – The Antipodean Artist Mikhail Bakhtin – Creating a «Legendary Historical Consciousness» – The Montage Novel – Carnival: Representing the Body.