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Sara Jones University of Birmingham Whose text is it anyway? Writing, censorship and the Stasi.

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Presentation on theme: "Sara Jones University of Birmingham Whose text is it anyway? Writing, censorship and the Stasi."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sara Jones University of Birmingham Whose text is it anyway? Writing, censorship and the Stasi

2 The Lives of Others (2006)

3 Reasons for Censorship in the GDR High value placed on writers in socialist societies Fear of the political impact of texts Cold War politics – battle of ideologies Why Censor?

4

5 Self-Censorship Inner censor or the scissors in the head Based on both commitment to socialism (consciousness/political conscience) and knowledge of taboos. Cannot know what has not been written, but can observe fate of texts that seemingly avoided self-censor E.g., Stefan Heyms 5 Tage im Juni/5 Days in June (1974, FRG). Originally Der Tag X./A Day Marked X. (1960) – Heym revised in direct contradiction to initial criticisms. Was not published in GDR until 1989.

6 Compromise Second level of censorship – requests for changes by publishing house and/or Office for Publishing and Book Trade Many writers prepared to edit their works to some degree Hermann Kant agreed to substantial changes to his novel Das Impressum (Imprint, 1972), many of which dulled the critique of certain GDR institutions Christa Wolf agreed to changes to Nachdenken über Christa T./Quest for Christa T. (1968)– text was still a sensation and broke with much of what had gone before Heym was not prepared to make changes to 5 Days in June in 1974, and the text was not published in the GDR

7 Negotiation Power dynamic was not one-way – writers could bargain with the censors Publication in the West Not available to everyone – lesser known writers did not have same cultural/political capital

8 The Stasi and Literature The Stasi were not officially involved in process – but would contribute knowledge about reliability of author Publishing houses infiltrated and observed Stasi confiscated manuscripts – now being recovered Infiltration of the literary scene – across all generations of writers Did an intact GDR literature exist?

9 The files are made of nothing but words; the same material that the writer uses, there is no other. If you dont want to develop a split personality like Anderson [...] studying the files will give you a feeling of great unease with regard to words, and doubt about your own ability ever to employ them again beyond betrayal and abuse. (Bernd Wagner, Stasi-Gift, 1993) Die Akten bestehen aus nichts als Worten; das gleiche Material, das auch der Schriftsteller braucht, es gibt kein anderes. Wenn man nicht wie Anderson zur gespaltenen Persönlichkeit werden will [...] wird man vom Aktenstudium ein großes Unbehagen gegenüber Worten zurückbehalten, Zweifel auch an der eigenen Fähigkeit, sie jemals wieder jenseits von Verrat und Mißbrauch verwenden zu können.

10 Whose text is it anyway?


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