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Title:The difficulty in forging a bond: the inner workings of postmemory within family relationships in Monika Maron's Pawels Briefe and Uwe Timm's Am Beispiel Meines Bruders
Author(s):Hansen, Lauren
Advisor(s):Pinkert, Anke
Department / Program:Germanic Languages & Lit
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Monika Maron
Uwe Timm
generational memory
collective memory
communicative memory
historical positionality
non-Jewish German
family history and war
Abstract:1989 marked a pivotal time in Germany’s history where the two German states and their respective histories needed to be reconciled and the memory of its citizens was called upon to be revisited as well. With a major political event, such as WWII in the German history, Germans were prompted to revisit individual memories more closely tied to their own family and themselves. The war and its aftermath impacts family relationships with one who was involved in it. And that personal relationship, at times fostered through some sort of “digging” into the past, if one is to use Walter’s Benjamin’s metaphor “Ausgraben im Erinnern,” in turn, impacts the concept of self-identity. How is the political mapped onto and reconciled with the familial in post-1989 literature? Much work has already been done on memory in post-1989 Germany and its literature, which serves as a rich basis for the paired analysis of Monika Maron’s Pawels Briefe with Uwe Timm’s Am Beispiel meines Bruders. Although there is much scholarship on these post-89 texts and their authors, this particular pairing explores possible similarities in seemingly different family genealogies with regards to the negotiation of historical positionality and the role memory artifacts play in the negotiation of relationships with both alive and deceased family members. The examined negotiations of family relationships and the critical engagement with personal belongings of deceased family members may reveal similarities between the assumed opposing family genealogies of Jewish and non-Jewish German that unfold from the WWII/Holocaust rupture. Something particularly characteristic to the reevaluations of relationships is the significant implications for those born during or after the war period still living to the present day in their understanding of self, family roots, and how conflicting generational differences embedded within their own historical contexts can be reconciled. Therefore, using Sigrid Weigel’s concept of generation as “symbolic form” in conjunction with Marianne Hirsch’s postmemory framework, I argue that the extent to which the historical positioning and the interaction with photographs and diary entries is similar in these post-1989 texts provides insight into the overlaps of Jewish and non-Jewish German postmemory projects. This comparison, thus, supports the identification potential between and among generations as well as the increasingly pluralistic “democratization of memory,” as David Bathrick proposes, in relation to national and family history in the current German memory discourse.
Issue Date:2012-05-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Lauren Hansen
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-05-22
Date Deposited:2012-05

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