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Detectives, Dystopias, and Poplit

Detectives, Dystopias, and Poplit: Studies in Modern German Genre Fiction

Bruce B. Campbell
Alison Guenther-Pal
Vibeke Rützou Petersen
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Detectives, Dystopias, and Poplit
    Book Description:

    Some of the most exciting research and teaching in the field of German Studies is being done on "genre fiction," including detective fiction, science fiction, and what is often called "poplit," to name but a few. Such non-canonical literature has long been marginalized by the German tradition of Bildung and the disciplinary practice of German literary studies (Germanistik). Even today, when the examination of non-canonical texts is well established and uncontroversial in other academic contexts, such texts remain understudied in German. And yet, the trend toward "German Studies" and "cultural studies" approaches within the field has raised considerable interest in the analysis of genre fiction, resulting in both a great deal of new scholarship and a range of new courses. This first broad treatment of German genre fiction brings together innovative new scholarship, foregrounding themes of gender, environmentalism, and memory. It is an ideal companion to research and teaching. Written in accessible English, it speaks to a wide variety of disciplines beyond German Studies. Contributors: Bruce B. Campbell, Ray Canoy, Kerry Dunne, Sonja Fritzsche, Maureen O. Gallagher, Adam R. King, Molly Knight, Vibeke Rützou Petersen, Evan Torner, and Ailsa Wallace. Bruce B. Campbell is Associate Professor of German Studies at the College of William and Mary. Alison Guenther-Pal is Assistant Professor of German and Film Studies at Lawrence University. Vibeke Rützou Petersen is Professor Emerita of Women's Studies at Drake University.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-329-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Closing a Bildungslücke—Genre Fiction and Why It Is Important
    (pp. 1-28)
    Bruce B. Campbell, Alison Guenther-Pal and Vibeke Rützou Petersen

    Some of the most exciting research and teaching in the field of German culture and letters today is being done on what is called “genre fiction.” This includes various subgenres of literature and film, such as detective fiction, science fiction, romance, and travel literature. While specialized studies of various individual subgenres exist in both German and English, there are no recent works that bring together current research on multiple genres written in the German language. We intend to begin to fill this gap. This edited collection includes a diverse selection of work on such varied topics as science fiction, detective...

  5. Part I. Science Fiction and Dystopia

    • 1: German Science Fiction: Its Formative Works and Its Postwar Uses of the Holocaust
      (pp. 31-48)
      Vibeke Rützou Petersen

      In 2010 the first international scholarly conference on German science-fiction literature took place. The following year saw the appearance of the first German scholarly journal to focus on science fiction, entitledZeitschrift für Fantastikforschung(Journal for Research into the Fantastic).¹ Until then, despite the popularity it enjoys, few scholars had taken German science fiction seriously. With the establishment of a yearly international conference and a journal, German science-fiction scholars hope to institutionalize the genre, legitimizing it and making various discussion fora available, akin to those we have in the United States.

      This of course does not mean that there is...

    • 2: A Future-History Out of Time: The Historical Context of Döblin’s Expressionist Dystopian Experiment, Berge Meere und Giganten
      (pp. 49-66)
      Evan Torner

      When one thinks OF science-fiction novels in the Weimar Republic, the name of Alfred Döblin, author of the 1929 modernist classicBerlin Alexanderplatz, hardly springs to mind. As reception scholar Wulf Koepke describes it, “his publications [remained] texts for other writers, critics and the happy few. The public knew the man, but not his work.”¹ Shortly following the hyperinflation of 1923, the writer’s writer Döblin abruptly published the vast, difficult, and bizarre tomeBerge Meere und Giganten(Mountains, Oceans and Giants, 1924),² which describes a future-history of humankind spanning thousands of years by way of an unstable dialectic between nature...

    • 3: Eco-Eschbach: Sustainability in the Science Fiction of Andreas Eschbach
      (pp. 67-88)
      Sonja Fritzsche

      “Like all arbitrary hierarchies” the judgmental system of “literary fiction” versus genre “promotes ignorance and arrogance.” So writes American science-fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin of the existing “hierarchy of fictional types,” which places realism at the top.¹ Unfortunately, German science fiction, in both the East and the West, has today been relegated to the margins of literary production. This is the case for three reasons: its conservative reputation, the flood of Anglo-American translations into (West) Germany, and its early designation as “trivial” literature.

      The first German science-fiction author, Kurd Lasswitz, wrote from a social-democratic point of view. However, at...

  6. Part II. Detection and Crime

    • 4: Murder in the Weimar Republic: Prejudice, Politics, and the Popular in the Socialist Crime Fiction of Hermynia Zur Mühlen
      (pp. 91-116)
      Ailsa Wallace

      For a long time, any treatment of crime fiction in German literary studies inevitably attempted to address the supposed lack of a specifically German tradition. Crime literature, like so much popular fiction, was judged to have a literary worth inversely proportionate to its popularity. In the 1960s, when formalist and structuralist critics helped to make crime literature a credible object of academic attention, research was nevertheless subject to certain trends, which converged to exclude the majority ofKrimis. When faced with the wealth and diversity of crime-related fiction, researchers who were keen to rehabilitate the genre according to the values...

    • 5: The Imaginary FBI: Jerry Cotton, the Nazi Roots of the Bundeskriminalamt, and the Cultural Politics of Detective Fiction in West Germany
      (pp. 117-132)
      Ray Canoy

      Translated American originals and homegrown detective fiction with American-style settings, heroes, and narratives first appeared in Germany during the late Wilhelmine period, grew in popularity during the Weimar Republic, and survived even into the peacetime dictatorship of the 1930s.¹ But it was after 1945 that the homegrown Americanized detective story, written by Germans for Germans, achieved dominance in the mass West German pulp market. This occurred during the compulsoryWestorientierungof politics, state, and much of public life in the occupation and Adenauer eras.²

      However, the Americanized detective story’s postwar ascendancy proceeded alongside an absence of reflection in the broader...

    • 6: Justice and Genre: The Krimi as a Site of Memory in Contemporary Germany
      (pp. 133-151)
      Bruce B. Campbell

      Detective fiction is one of the most popular genres of fiction today in the German-speaking world, and it has a long history of popularity there. In fact, German was one of the very first languages in which the genre appeared.¹ And yet the genre of detective fiction in German today is faced with unique challenges and issues. Simply put, there is a specter haunting German detective fiction: the specter of the Nazi past.² The weight of this past is so strong that it turns German-language detective fiction into a “site of memory” (Erinnerungsort, lieu de mémoire).³ Of course, there is...

    • 7: Detecting Identity: Reading the Clues in German-Language Crime Fiction by Klüpfel and Kobr and Steinfest
      (pp. 152-180)
      Kerry Dunne

      Much contemporary European crime fiction emphasizes the local and the regional. In part this is a reaction to globalization¹ and in part it reflects the reality of European identity today, which exhibits a complex web of local, regional, national, and European allegiances. An analysis of two popular German language crime series, one set in Southern Germany and the other in Austria, teases out the characters’ multidimensional identities, in which the local is depicted in combination with, but also in resistance to, the global.² The crime investigators differ necessarily from American hardboiled detective figures, and the crime investigations are vehicles for...

  7. Part III. Versions of the “I”:: Pop Literatures on the Way to the Self

    • 8: The Pedagogy of Pulp: Liberated Sexuality and Its Consequences through the Eyes of Vicki Baum’s stud. chem. Helene Willfüer
      (pp. 183-206)
      Adam R. King

      In her memoirs, the Weimar German author Vicki Baum refers to herself as “eine erstklassige Schriftstellerin zweiter Güte” (a first-rate second-rate author).¹ Baum masterfully combines the style of theZeitroman—which includes documentary-style reporting of cultural, economic, and political themes—with the emotionally melodramatic nature of popular novels—including “tropes of female victimization, highly expressive language, and sudden shifts of fate that confront characters with impossible decisions between love and work, life and death”²—in order to create what Lynne Frame refers to as “a scenario into which a woman could project a bit of herself and reflect on the...

    • 9: The Kränzchen Library and the Creation of Teenage Identity
      (pp. 207-226)
      Maureen O. Gallagher

      At the age of fourteen years and seven weeks, German girls were said to becomeBackfisch. The term comes from the fishing industry, referring to fish too large to be returned to the water but so small as to be suitable only for baking (Germanbacken), and in reference to women is more or less synonymous with “teenager.” During this period of her life a young bourgeois woman navigated the difficult transition to adulthood, shedding childish behaviors such as selfishness and stubbornness in favor of the sense of duty, domesticity, and orderliness necessary to be a successful wife and mother....

    • 10: Close the Border, Mind the Gap: Pop Misogyny and Social Critique in Christian Kracht’s Faserland
      (pp. 227-242)
      Molly Knight

      In an interview with Ulf Porschardt in 2009, Swiss Pop author Christian Kracht describes his debut novelFaserlandas a “Mise-en-abyme,” a “Spiegelkabinett” (hall of mirrors): a text that folds in on and echoes itself.¹ Kracht’s self-assessment—itself a kind ofmise en abyme—can refer to a variety of aspects of his work.Faserlandreflects and refracts contemporary definitions of Pop, and its narrative also relies heavily on a network of intertextual pop-cultural references, from fashion to television and music. In this essay I will examine another set of references reflected throughoutFaserland: a gendered symbolic system in which...

  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 243-276)
  9. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 277-278)
  10. Index
    (pp. 279-292)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 293-293)