Protest Memory: Post-1989 Literature, Film, and Theory

GER 473
Fall of Wall

We will discuss a diverse archive of post-1989 literature, film, and memorials in order to reexamine the so-called Peaceful Revolution and the interval year of ’89-90. More specifically, we ask what kind of cultural memories of street activism, resistance, and alternative social vision were left behind by the uprising in the GDR. Most scholarship in the last two decades has associated the legacies of 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and Germany’s reunification, viewing this historical break in terms of trauma, defeat, and takeover. Instead, we take our cue from memory studies which is currently shifting from a focus on violence and trauma to more hopeful legacies of social justice and political responsibility. Accordingly, in this course, we will explore how cultural archives (attuned to language, images and so forth) render the protest memory of 1989. Reading post-1989 literature and film, alongside theory, we also move further back into the 20th century to trace how specters of earlier progressive movements and utopian ideas impacted the unrest in ‘89-90. We conclude with the novel Gehen, Ging, Gegangen by Jenny Erpenbeck, which deals with the long aftermath of 1989 through the lens of memory and the protests during the so-called refugee crisis in 2015.

For more information, contact Prof. Anke Pinkert.