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Edited by Deirdre Byrnes, Jean E Conacher and Gisela Holfter

Since the tumultuous events of 1989/1990, writers, cultural practitioners and academics have responded to, reconstructed and reflected upon the process and enduring impact of German reunification. This bilingual volume provides a nuanced understanding of the literature and culture of the GDR and its legacy today. It explores a broad range of genres, combines perspectives on both lesser-known and more established writers, and juxtaposes academic articles with the personal reflections of those who directly experienced and engaged with the GDR from within or beyond its borders. Whether creative practitioners or academics, contributors consider the broader literary and intellectual contexts and traditions shaping GDR literature and culture in a way that enriches our understanding of reunification and its legacy.

Contributors are: Deirdre Byrnes, Anna Chiarloni, Jean E. Conacher, Sabine Egger, Robert Gillett, Frank Thomas Grub, Jochen Hennig, Nick Hodgin, Frank Hörnigk, Therese Hörnigk, Gisela Holfter, Jeannine Jud, Astrid Köhler, Marieke Krajenbrink, Hannes Krauss, Reinhard Kuhnert, Katja Lange-Müller, Corina Löwe, Hugh Ridley, Kathrin Schmidt.

World War II in Andreï Makine’s Historiographic Metafiction

‘No One Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Forgotten’

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Helena Duffy

Can it be ever possible to write about war in a work of fiction? asks a protagonist of one of Makine’s strongly metafictional and intensely historical novels. Helena Duffy’s World War II in Andreï Makine’s Historiographic Metafiction redirects this question at the Franco-Russian author’s fiction itself by investigating its portrayal of Soviet involvement in the struggle against Hitler. To write back into the history of the Great Fatherland War its unmourned victims — invalids, Jews, POWs, women or starving Leningraders — is the self-acknowledged ambition of a novelist committed to the postmodern empowerment of those hitherto silenced by dominant historiographies. Whether Makine succeeds at giving voice to those whose suffering jarred with the triumphalist narrative of the war concocted by Soviet authorities is the central concern of Duffy’s book.

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Joyce Block Lazarus

Geneviève Straus: a Parisian Life is the first biography in English of Geneviève Straus (1849-1926), a Parisian salon hostess and political activist. Joyce Block Lazarus explores myths surrounding Straus and offers an account of her life and accomplishments. Making use of historical materials, including previously unpublished letters, Lazarus shows that Straus was a female intellectual during an era when women were non-citizens.
Scholars have well documented the Dreyfus Affair (1894-1906), but have overlooked archival documents which spotlight Straus’s role as a political activist in the affair. In Geneviève Straus: a Parisian Life, Lazarus highlights Straus’s thirty-four-year friendship with Marcel Proust and examines her influence on Proust’s novel, In Search of Lost Time, finding echoes of Straus and her family in his masterpiece.

Neo-Victorian Humour

Comic Subversions and Unlaughter in Contemporary Historical Re-Visions

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Edited by Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben

This volume highlights humour’s crucial role in shaping historical re-visions of the long nineteenth century, through modes ranging from subtle irony, camp excess, ribald farce, and aesthetic parody to blackly comic narrative games. It analyses neo-Victorian humour’s politicisation, its ideological functions and ethical implications across varied media, including fiction, drama, film, webcomics, and fashion. Contemporary humour maps the assumed distance between postmodernity and its targeted nineteenth-century referents only to repeatedly collapse the same in a seemingly self-defeating nihilistic project. This collection explores how neo-Victorian humour generates empathy and effective socio-political critique, dispensing symbolic justice, but also risks recycling the past’s invidious ideologies under the politically correct guise of comic debunking, even to the point of negating laughter itself.


"This rich and innovative collection invites us to reflect on the complex and various deployments of humour in neo-Victorian texts, where its consumers may wish at times that they could swallow back the laughter a scene or event provokes. It covers a range of approaches to humour utilised by neo-Victorian writers, dramatists, graphic novelists and filmmakers – including the deliberately and pompously unfunny, the traumatic, the absurd, the ribald, and the frankly distasteful – producing a richly satisfying anthology of innovative readings of ‘canonical’ neo-Victorian texts as well as those which are potential generic outliers. The collection explores what is funny in the neo-Victorian and who we are laughing at – the Victorians, as we like to imagine them, or ourselves, in ways we rarely acknowledge? This is a celebration of the parodic playfulness of a wide range of texts, from fiction to fashion, whilst offering a trenchant critique of the politics of postmodern laughter that will appeal to those working in adaptation studies, gender and queer studies, as well as literary and cultural studies more generally."
- Prof. Imelda Whelehan, University of Tasmania, Australia

Georg Büchner

Contemporary Perspectives

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Edited by Robert Gillett, Ernest Schonfield and Daniel Steuer

Georg Büchner: Contemporary Perspectives examines the continuing relevance of Büchner in the early twenty-first century in terms of politics, science, philosophy, aesthetics, cultural studies and performance studies. It situates Büchner’s interdisciplinary work in relation to the philosophical, scientific and religious discourses of his time, while also investigating the ways in which Büchner’s intersectional writings anticipated – sometimes uncannily – questions and problems which were to become central concerns in modernism and after. The nineteen essays in the book, some in English and some in German, uniquely combine close readings of individual passages and images with wide-ranging intertextual comparisons, linking Büchner to more than twenty-five writers, thinkers and theoreticians from his time and ours.


Der Band Georg Büchner: Contemporary Perspectives beschäftigt sich mit Büchners anhaltender Aktualität in den Bereichen Politik, Naturwissenschaft, Philosophie, Ästhetik, Kulturwissenschaft und Theater. Er setzt Büchners interdisziplinäres Werk in Beziehung zu den philosophischen, naturwissenschaftlichen und religiösen Themen seiner Zeit, untersucht aber auch wie sein Schreiben auf manchmal verblüffende Weise Fragen und Probleme vorwegnimmt, die für die Moderne und die Nachmoderne bis zum heutigen Tag zentral werden sollten. Die neunzehn, teils auf Englisch, teils auf Deutsch verfassten Beiträge zeichnen sich dadurch aus, dass sie eingehende Einzelinterpretationen bestimmter Werkstellen mit weitreichenden intertextuellen Bezügen zu mehr als 25 SchriftstellerInnen, KünstlerInnen, DenkerInnen, und TheoretikerInnen verbinden.

Water in Social Imagination

from Technological Optimism to Contemporary Environmentalism

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Edited by Jane Costlow, Yrjö Haila and Arja Rosenholm

Water in Social Imagination considers how human communities have known, imagined and shaped water – and how water has shaped both material culture and the imagination. Essays from diverse perspectives offer histories of water at different scales – from community water wells and sacred springs to Siberian rivers and the regulated space of the Baltic Sea. From early modernization through Soviet style technological optimism to contemporary environmentalism, water’s ideological uses are multiple. With sustained attention not just to state policy and the technologies of high modernity, but to creative resistance to utilitarian imaginations, these essays insist on fluidities of meaning, ambiguities that derive both from water’s physical mutability and from its dual nature as life necessity and agent of destruction.

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Edited by Sandra Robinson and Alastair Niven

In Discourses of Empire and Commonwealth a range of prominent writers and critics reflect on the legacy of imperialism and the role of writers in forging a new, more cosmopolitan identity. The contributors, writing about a wide range of countries, affirm the freedom of the human spirit, even within unjust or oppressive social systems. They show the power of words to illuminate injustices and unite different peoples.

Salman Rushdie famously declared that Commonwealth Literature has had its day: this book provides a vital antidote to this idea. Editors Sandra Robinson and Alastair Niven have put together this mixture of personal reflections, critical overviews, historical re-evaluations and creative works to illustrate the vitality of this genre.


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Edited by Tomas Balkelis and Violeta Davoliūtė

Population Displacement in Lithuania in the XXth Century: Experiences, Identities and Legacies is an edited volume written by historians from several countries offering a series of ground-breaking case studies on forced migration in Lithuania during and between the two World Wars. Starting with the premise that the mass movement of peoples during and after the Second World War needs to be understood in relation to the population displacement of the First World War, the authors draw on theoretical perspectives ranging from entangled histories, cultural theory and studies of nationalism to trace the ethnic, social and cultural transformation of Lithuanian society caused by the displacement of Lithuanians, Poles, Jews and Germans.

Contributors are: Tomas Balkelis, Daiva Dapkutė, Violeta Davoliūtė, Andrea Griffante, Ruth Leiserowitz, Klaus Richter, Vasilijus Safronovas, Vitalija Stravinskienė, Arūnas Streikus and Theodore R. Weeks.

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Edited by Sander Brouwer

Questions of collective identity and nationhood dominate the memory debate in both the high and popular cultures of postsocialist Russia, Poland and Ukraine. Often the ‘Soviet’ and ‘Russian’ identity are reconstructed as identical; others remember the Soviet regime as an anonymous supranational ‘Empire’, in which both Russian and non-Russian national cultures were destroyed. At the heart of this ‘empire talk’ is a series of questions pivoting on the opposition between constructed ‘ethnic’ and ‘imperial’ identities. Did ethnic Russians constitute the core group who implemented the Soviet Terror, e.g. the mass murders of the Poles in Katyn and the Ukrainians in the Holodomor? Or were Russians themselves victims of a faceless totalitarianism? The papers in this volume explore the divergent and conflicting ways in which the Soviet regime is remembered and re-imagined in contemporary Russian, Polish and Ukrainian cinema and media.

Irena Veisaitė

Tolerance and involvement

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Yves Plasseraud

Irena Veisaitė is held in deep esteem throughout her country. This volume is an attempt to relate the difficult journey of her remarkable life against the backdrop of the complex history of Lithuania and its Litvaks (Lithuanian Jews).
After being rescued by Christian Lithuanian families and having survived the Holocaust Irena Veisaitė devoted herself to study and creative work. She was a memorable lecturer, respected theatre critic, associate film director, and also founder and chairman of the Open Society Fund (Soros Foundation) which made an invaluable contribution to the process of democratisation in Lithuania.
Irena Veisaitė made it her life’s work to speak up for dialogue and mutual understanding and believes that even in the most difficult circumstances it is possible to preserve one’s humanity. Having lived through some of the major atrocities of the twentieth century, her insistence on the need for tolerance has inspired many.