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Edinburgh German Yearbook 7

Edinburgh German Yearbook 7: Ethical Approaches in Contemporary German-Language Literature and Culture

Emily Jeremiah
Frauke Matthes
Volume: 7
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Edinburgh German Yearbook 7
    Book Description:

    There has been an "ethical turn" in the literature, culture, and theory of recent years. Questions of morality are urgent at a time of increasing global insecurities. Yet it is becoming ever more difficult to make ethical judgments in multicultural, relativist societies. The European economic meltdown has raised further ethical difficulties, widening the gap between rich and poor. Such divisions and difficulties heighten the widespread fear of "the other"in its various manifestations. And in the German context especially, the past and its representation offer ongoing moral challenges. These ethical concerns have found their way into recent German-language literature and culture in texts that deal with history and memory (Timm, Petzold, Schoch, Strubel); materiality (Krau, Overath); gender (Berg, Schneider); age and generation (Moster, Pehnt, Schalansky); religion, especially Islam (Senocak, Kermani, Ruete); and nomadism (Tawada). The relationship between self and other; the connection between particular and general; the personal and political consequences of individuals' actions; and the potential, and danger, of representation itself are issues that are vital to the shaping of our future ethical landscapes, as this volume demonstrates. Contributors: Monika Albrecht, Angelika Baier, David N. Coury, Anna Ertel & Tilmann Köppe, Emily Jeremiah, Alasdair King, Frauke Matthes, Aine McMurtry, Gillian Pye, Kate Roy. Emily Jeremiah is Senior Lecturer in German at Royal Holloway, University of London. Frauke Matthes is Lecturer in German at the University of Edinburgh.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-880-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: Ethical Approaches in Contemporary German-Language Literature and Culture
    (pp. 1-12)
    Emily Jeremiah and Frauke Matthes

    Ethics, or moral philosophy, involves the study of morality, and morality concerns beliefs about right and wrong behaviors and good and bad persons or character.¹ As a branch of thought, ethics may seek to prescribe, describe, apply, or theorize moral actions and approaches. Ethical reflections appear not only in explicitly philosophical texts, but also in literary narrative and in films, among other kinds of discourse, and there are longstanding discussions about the nature and value of such nonphilosophical investigations and representations. This volume, the seventh Edinburgh German Yearbook, offers a contribution to such discussions. It brings together explorations of the...

  4. “The Absoluteness of the Knowledge Once Possessed”: 1968 Ethics and Consensual Ethics in Uwe Timm’s Novel Rot
    (pp. 13-28)
    Monika Albrecht

    “How is it possible for one to no longer be the subject of a truth?”¹ asks Alain Badiou, one of the most significant and original French philosophers of the generation succeeding Foucault, Derrida, and Lyotard.² The protagonist of Uwe Timm’s novel Rot (2001), Thomas Linde, a former activist in the student movement, had tried to shut out such unsettling questions as much as possible. Twelve days before the story begins, though, he learns that a former comrade, of whom he had lost track for more than twenty years, has died. The news functions as a catalyst for a process in...

  5. What the World Needs Now: Rancière, Ethology, and Christian Petzold’s Toter Mann (2001) and Wolfsburg (2003)
    (pp. 29-46)
    Alasdair King

    As Thomas Elsaesser has argued recently, European cinema since the end of the Cold War foregrounds ethical, rather than directly political, concerns.¹ For Elsaesser, who refers to a body of work that ranges from Fatih Akin to Michael Winterbottom, from Dogville to the Dardennes Brothers, this is a cinema that largely foregoes offering political solutions to the tensions its central characters experience. Even on the occasions when its focus expands beyond the personal narratives of the protagonists, when its stories address “spaces to be redistributed, and power-relations to be re-negotiated,”² it remains, for Elsaesser, primarily an ethical rather than a...

  6. Materiality and Ethics in Recent German Prose Narratives by Angelika Overath and Angela Krauß
    (pp. 47-64)
    Gillian Pye

    At the beginning of the twenty-first century, there is a pressing need to engage critically with the way human beings belong to the material world. Under the impact of globalization and digital technologies, ethical dilemmas posed by materiality are changing and evolving rapidly. In ecological terms, for example, the need for sustainability, which requires the reduction of consumption by a wealthy minority and the simultaneous decoupling of development from resource use, presents challenges of unprecedented scale and urgency.¹ On a social level, meanwhile, the disconnect between the global impact of consumption and local, lived practice is felt particularly keenly in...

  7. Shameful Stories: The Ethics of East German Memory Contests in Fiction by Julia Schoch, Stefan Moster, Antje Rávic Strubel, and Judith Schalansky
    (pp. 65-84)
    Emily Jeremiah

    “Memory contests” are a defining feature of contemporary German cultural and political life. As Anne Fuchs and Mary Cosgrove explain, the term denotes “highly dynamic public engagements with the past,” which in the German context constitutes “hotly contested territory.”¹ While the now well-established notion was developed in response to framings of the National Socialist past, it can also be applied to ongoing attempts to articulate and account for the East German experience.² This chapter engages in such an application, with the complementary aim of bringing to light the ethical implications of these memory contests. “Ethics,” here, connotes a relationship of...

  8. Affective Encounters and Ethical Responses in Robert Schneider’s Die Luftgängerin and Sybille Berg’s Vielen Dank für das Leben
    (pp. 85-100)
    Angelika Baier

    Postmodernism has often been associated with the demise of the ethical. Conversely, the so-called “ethical turn” in contemporary literature means that literary texts are more inclined than ever to engage in ethical dialogue concerning questions of how we act toward one another.¹ Given that encounters between human beings are contingent upon particular social and historical contexts, literature, which typically involves fictional characters interacting with each other in concrete settings, and so depicts specific actions and situations, is arguably well placed to chart a new, emerging form of postmodern ethics, one that rejects universalism and posits specificity as key to ethical...

  9. Narrative Ethics and the Problems of Age and Aging in Annette Pehnt’s Haus der Schildkröten
    (pp. 101-114)
    Anna Ertel and Tilmann Köppe

    Given the demographic development of today’s Western societies, both individuals and societies are facing ethical questions of how to deal with aging people in public as well as in private spheres. The urgency of the subject manifests itself not only in the growth of relevant academic research and self-help literature, but also in an increasing number of literary explorations of what has been a literary subject since antiquity.¹ This chapter explores ethical problems of age and aging in Annette Pehnt’s novel Haus der Schildkröten (2006), a text that forms an important contribution to these ongoing investigations. Pehnt’s novel deals with...

  10. “So ähnlich könnte es gewesen sein, aber [. . .]”: Unethical Narrations of Emily Ruete’s “Große Wandelungen”
    (pp. 115-138)
    Kate Roy

    The chapter “Grosse Wandelungen” in nineteenth-century Arab German writer Emily Ruete’s Memoiren einer arabischen Prinzessin (1886) devotes three skeletal paragraphs to a narration of the author’s relationship with a Hamburg trader and her departure for Germany, staged as a direct antidote to the “unrichtige[n] Darstellungen”¹ at that time circulating in the German public realm that depicted these events as a grand narrative with a plot seemingly inspired by Mozart’s Entführung aus dem Serail. Centering on the notion of contested representation raised by Ruete in the chapter in question, my essay will go on to explore, under the same terms, three...

  11. Enlightenment Fundamentalism: Zafer Şenocak, Navid Kermani, and Multiculturalism in Germany Today
    (pp. 139-158)
    David N. Coury

    Since the 2010 publication of Thilo Sarrazin’s controversial bestseller Deutschland schafft sich ab, there has been renewed debate in Germany over the country’s cultural identity and the success of policies that promote multiculturalism.¹ Central to these debates has been the question of the integration and assimilation of Germany’s large and growing Muslim population. The role and place of Islam in contemporary German society has increasingly been both a source of controversy and an impetus for dialogue about religious freedom and tolerance. The issue of whether or not Islam is compatible with European values is explored in greater depth in recent...

  12. Voicing Rupture: Ethical Concerns in Short Prose and Lyric Texts by Yoko Tawada
    (pp. 159-178)
    Áine McMurtry

    In Stimme eines Vogels, delivered as the first of her poetry lectures at Tübingen in 1998, Yoko Tawada comments on the particular status—and strangeness—of the human voice when speaking another language. Suggesting that the human subject spits out foreign words as though they were birds, Tawada underlines the tension between the materiality of the foreign sentences with their clear contours, on the one hand, and the odd displacement of the voice in a different language, on the other. Published under the title Verwandlungen, the three Tübingen lectures explore literary and linguistic metamorphoses, and particularly focus on those that...

  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 179-179)