M-V and German unification: recording and (re-)constructing social change on film (Lecture)

From 07.07.2021 9:00 to 07.07.2021 10:30 (your local time)
Alternatively from 07.07.2021 15:00 to 07.07.2021 15:00 (your local time)

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Abstract

Although unification transformed primarily the structure of state and social institutions in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), it also affected smaller social and cultural units such as regions. Today’s Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was created from three districts of the GDR, and older regional identities of what is now the German Northeast were revived in the process. The economic and demographic policies of the GDR were intended to industrialize and urbanize the traditionally agrarian region at least partially.

After unification, some of these developments were reversed, and since then, the region has had to re-define, or re-invent, itself. Since the ‘spatial turn’ about 20 years ago, regional identities have been a central object of cultural studies because space and place are relevant sites of negotiations of power and of social change.

Since 1990, several films have been made that deal with the effects of unification on this region. There are, for example, the feature films “Stilles Land” (1992) and “Die Polizistin” (2000), as well as the documentary “Am Ende der Milchstraße” (2013), which will be complemented by images from Michael Haneke’s “Das weiße Band”. All of these films focus on the – sometimes disruptive – effects of the changes and the new social system on the lives of individual persons and groups and their landscape.

The teaching unit will start with a discussion of the concept of ‘region’ and general knowledge about Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, followed by a brief survey on geographical, social, and cultural aspects as well as the recent history of the region. This film studies workshop will be divided into two parts, the first one dealing with the experience of change in the urban space and the second one dealing with continuity and change in the representation of rural life. Each film will be introduced briefly, and then participants will receive tasks for watching selected film scenes and analyze and interpret the scenes with regard to the cinematic construction of the region and the effects of reunification. The films will be in German but some feature English subtitles.

Required Literature

Web resources:

https://www.amber-online.com/collection/from-us-to-me/

Additional Readings:

Lynne Haney – After the fall: east european women since the collapse of state socialism

Recorded video of the lecture:

https://unibox.uni-rostock.de/getlink/fiJ36zSdYaFB25TwbaHkUKX/2021-07-07_Linke_German_Film.mp4

About the lecturer

Prof. Gabriele Linke is an emerita professor for British and American culture studies and teaching methodology for English at the University of Rostock. She has studied and worked at a variety of universities in Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom and took the professorship at the University of Rostock in 2002. She is currently working and researching gender in autobiography, film, and English language teaching; transnational and British and American film studies and studies of autobiography, especially contemporary Scottish autobiography.

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