Masterminded and led by women, the Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorized West Germany from the 1970s to the 1990s, and afterimages of its leaders persist in the works of pivotal artists and writers, including Gerhard Richter, Elfriede Jelinek, and Slavoj Žižek. Why were women so prominent in the RAF? What does the continuing cultural response to the German armed struggle tell us about the representation of violence, power, and gender today? Charity Scribner engages critical theory to address these questions and analyze signal works that point beyond militancy and terrorism. These works of art and literature expose the failures of the German Far Left and register the radical potential that RAF women actually forfeited.
As Scribner demonstrates, the most compelling examples of postmilitant culture do more than repudiate militancy; they investigate its possibility, particularly in the realm of sexual politics. Scribner analyzes as-yet untranslated essays by Theodor Adorno and Jürgen Habermas, as well as novels by Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Judith Kuckart. She also examines Johann Kresnik'sTanztheaterstück Ulrike Meinhofand the blockbuster art exhibitionRegarding Terrorat the Berlin Kunst-Werke. Scribner gives special focus to German cinema, offering incisive interpretations of films by Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, and Fatih Akin, and discusses the recent international box-office success ofThe Baader-Meinhof Complex. These readings reveal dynamic junctures in national and sexual identities, the disciplining of the militant body, and the relationship between mass media and the arts.