Theses in Focus: ‘Self-presentation and Identity: German-Jewish Writing Today’ by Hanna Maria Rompf

The second installment of ‘Theses in Focus’ comes from Hanna Maria Rompf and her PhD thesis ‘Self-presentation and Identity: German-Jewish Writing Today’. She is a PhD candidate and Departmental Assistant in the Department of German Studies at Mary Immaculate College Limerick, where she is jointly supervised by Dr. Sabine Egger and also Prof. Dr. Sascha Feuchert (Justus Liebig University Gießen). Hanna was awarded her Magister Artium: German Literature, History of the Middle Ages and Early Modern History from the Justus Liebig University Gießen. Her broader research interests include contemporary literature, Holocaust literature, migration literature and Paratexts, and she has a publication forthcoming in this area entitled ‘Zeitgenossenschaft als Voraussetzung für politische Literatur. Dmitrij Kapitelmans Das Lächeln meines unsichtbaren Vaters’, set to appear in the 2020 edition of Germanistik in Ireland, which Hanna is also co-editing. Her theses was runner-up in the 2019 Women in German Studies Book Prize competition.


I have been interested in Jewish culture and history for a long time and the fact that I grew up near Frankfurt, which is home of the second biggest Jewish community in Germany, is a central factor. It strengthened my awareness of the events of the Shoah and of memory culture. I wrote my Master’s thesis about Holocaust literature and in particular about witness reports of Holocaust survivors and the depiction of history in their texts.

My fascination for contemporary Jewish literature started when I noticed that there is an increasing number of published texts by young writers with a Jewish background who cover questions of identity. Those writers undermine the public perception of contemporary Jewishness in Germany considerably and, most notably, create an image of a modern urban Jewish generation, which seeks to emancipate itself from its history and negotiate conventional cultural heritages as well as the role as victims in the German memory discourse. For instance, Max Czollek, who is spokesman of a Berlin-based group of Jewish artists, stimulated a controversial debate with his polemic appeal “Desintegriert euch!” (“Be disintegrated!”; Max Czollek, 2018).

I also realised that in many cases these writers came to Germany from the former Soviet Union and hence are part of the “Eastern turn” (Brigid Haines, 2008) in German literature. I became curious about how they deal with recent developments in society and with the Shoah as an event of memory culture. This group of authors, the so-called “Kontingentflüchtlinge” (quota refugees), migrated to Germany from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s and are, as a result of their specific cultural background, exceptional within German-Jewish writing. Due to their unique experience of living in a communist state, their approach to the Shoah and other historic events differs significantly not only from the memory culture in Germany but also from former generations of Jewish authors. Young writers such as Dmitrij Kapitelman, Kat Kaufmann or Olga Grjasnowa no longer consider the Shoah as the main impetus for their writing but, instead, life in the Jewish diaspora, their relationship to Israel and their sense of belonging to a multicultural world. My PhD project therefore investigates contemporary autobiographic novels of Jewish writers from the former Soviet Union and how they, through their respective works, represent their specific understanding of Jewish identity in their texts.

While working on the subject, I became aware of the fact that this group of writers not only writes prose but is, at the same time, active in other media. Given the emerging role of digital media, as Georg Franck argues, the cultural sector is more and more transforming into a commercial market, an “economy of attention” (Franck, 1998). Self-presentation in different media seems to play a significant role for those writers in order to generate such attention, but also to point out their specific perspective on intercultural experiences. My research up to date supports the idea that the so-called epitexts (Genette, 2001) are in a large extent part of a marketing strategy in order to establish a strong position in the Literarisches Feld (literary field; Pierre Bourdieu, 1992). Journalism and social media provide additional platforms in order to establish that image beyond literature. I would argue that such attempts of generating attention in public prove the ambivalence of the cultural sector, causing growing opportunities of self-presentation but simultaneously an increasing competitive pressure, and the writer’s refusal to participate in Germany’s Holocaust discourse. To ascertain how the depiction of this concept of an urban modern Jewishness is extended to other media is thus another main aspect of the project. 

My dissertation seeks to illustrate the changing nature of German-Jewish authorship as well as German-Jewish memory culture under the influence of global migration and digitalisation. It is thus the first study to undertake a comprehensive examination of the close interaction and correlation of intercultural as well as intermedia phenomena in the context of current German-Jewish writing. In view of migration and dislocation as an everyday reality, questions of belonging or identity are currently of a fundamental relevance in a wider European context. My research project enables me to participate in this contemporary discourse.

Remote Teaching & Learning Forum

As we manage the transition away from face-to-face and towards online teaching and learning, this forum will serve as a platform to share materials, ask for advice and discuss issues related to pedagogy and assessment.

To participate, you just have to register for free, after which you can reply to posts and write your own.

Colleagues should also be aware of the similar initiative Digitale Lehre Germanistik, which might also be useful, especially for content modules.

Theses in Focus: ‘The Role of Albania and Kosovo in the “South-Eastern Turn” in Contemporary German Language Literature’ by Chloe Fagan

The first installment of ‘Theses in Focus’ is devoted to Chloe Fagan‘s doctoral research on German writers of Albanian and Kosovar background. She is a PhD candidate based in the Department of Germanic Studies at TCD and her supervisors are Prof. Jürgen Barkhoff and Prof. (emer) Moray McGowan. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in German and English from TCD and currently works for Goethe-Institut Irland. Her broader research interests include German migration literature, cultural trauma, and contemporary Albanian and Kosovar culture and history. She has published ‘Translation and the Renegotiation of Albanian-Austrian Migrant Identity: Ilir Ferra’s “Halber Atem” as a Critique of Migrantenliteratur’ in Moving Texts, Migrating People and Minority Languages (2017) and “Albanian Literature in Translation” in ITIA Bulletin 2/2015.

After completing my Bachelor’s degree in German, I expressed my interest in pursuing a doctorate in German literature to my undergraduate thesis supervisor and I began to consider focusing on Migrantenliteratur. However, he advised me that there was a great amount of research and secondary literature being produced on Turkish-German literature, and that for a PhD it would be better to focus on another aspect of this literature. Whilst searching for ideas. I read the list of winners of the Adelbert von Chamisso Preis, a prize awarded to authors who produce texts in German though it is not their mother tongue. The prize was won in 2012 and 2013 by an author with an Albanian background: Ilir Ferra and Anila Wilms, respectively. There was little attention given to this Albanian presence in contemporary German-language literature, and this formed the beginnings of my research as I sought to fill this gap.

In The Turkish Turn in Contemporary German Literature (2005), Leslie A. Adelson analysed the biggest group in producing texts in the area of migration-linked writing in German literature, at that point Turkish, or hyphenated Turkish-German authors. Following on from Adelson’s work, Brigid Haines in The Eastern Turn in Contemporary German, Swiss and Austrian Literature (2008) has described an “Eastern Turn” in German language literature; that is, a new wave of migrant writing in Germany, Switzerland and Austria produced by authors from Eastern Europe and former Yugoslavia. Haines points to this being evident in the trend of the Chamisso Prize winners in recent years, with authors of Eastern European origin superseding Turkish-German authors who had previously dominated. Research on this “Eastern Turn” has failed to failed to include authors with Albanian or Kosovar background writing in German, or  texts which take Albanian and Kosovar issues and recent history as their primary focus. The primary objective of my thesis then became addressing this gap and to expand this turn into a “South-Eastern Turn”, which would include such Albanian and Kosovar migrant authors.

My doctoral work examines the image of Albania and Kosovo in contemporary German language literature, and assesses how Albania and Kosovo are represented by authors of different nationalities writing in German, and how the issues of migration, Albania’s Communist regime and its legacy, and the Kosovo War are treated in these texts.

As I learned more about Albania and Kosovo’s histories (as well as learning the Albanian language), my own interests shifted more to the issues of cultural traumas and how they are processed. Stuart Taberner in Transnationalism and German Language Literature in the 21st Century (2017) posits that the archive of transnationalism and writing by migrants coming to German-speaking countries is an archive of trauma. I wanted to highlight the memory work being done by these authors in their texts treating the issues of the Hoxha Communist dictatorship in Albania or the Kosovo War in societies where such memory work is absent in the official discourses in the two countries. These Albanian and Kosovar authors would be unable to publish their texts in their country of origin, and so in treating national traumas which are not part of the official national narrative, they then become part of a diasporic counterdiscourse. Ultimately, one of the main concerns of the “South-Eastern Turn” in German language literature is to disrupt the smooth official narrative produced by the dominant discourse in Albania and Kosovo, and to make readers aware that there are other voices, previously excluded, to complicate and problematize the understanding of this history.



CfP: GSAI Conference ‘Zeitgenossenschaft’, 15-16th November at Mary I, Limerick.

„Wir Autoren sind die geborenen Einmischer“ formulierte Heinrich Böll in seiner programmatischen Schrift „Einmischung erwünscht“ (1977) und fasste damit ein Verständnis von Autorschaft zusammen, das im deutschen Sprachraum seit geraumer Zeit einen festen Platz einnimmt.

Die Vorstellung, dass ein Schriftsteller aktuelle Entwicklungen aufgreift und mit nahezu prophetischer Klugheit seine Umgebung beurteilt, durchzieht die deutsche Literaturgeschichte von Heinrich Heine über die Exilliteratur bis hin zu Texten von Gegenwartsautoren wie Ilija Trojanow. Dieses Konzept der poetischen Zeitgenossenschaft erfuhr im Laufe der Zeit eine Politisierung hin zu einer engagierten Literatur im Sinne Jean-Paul Sartres, begriffen als potentiell subversives Medium, das einer Gesellschaft den Spiegel vorzuhalten vermag. Das Bild des Autors wandelte sich dabei vom weisen Dichtergenie zum Gewissen der Nation.

Besonders in der Nachkriegszeit erfuhr dieses Verständnis von Autorschaft mit der Gruppe 47 einen bis dato neuen Grad der Institutionalisierung. Autoren wie Günter Grass und Martin Walser wurde nicht nur eine Deutungshoheit in Bezug auf ihre Umwelt zugesprochen, sie etablierten darüber hinaus den Schriftstellertypus des unliebsamen Zeitgenossen, der sich auch außertextuell engagiert. Doch so prominent die Rolle des öffentlichen Intellektuellen in deren Wirkungskreis war, so sehr wird gegenwärtig ein Mangel an kritischen Stimmen in der Literatur diagnostiziert.

Hat Bölls Postulat in der Gegenwartsliteratur seine Gültigkeit verloren? Oder verlagern sich öffentliche Diskurse lediglich auf andere Medienformate?

Denn durch zunehmend komplexere internationale und interkulturelle Verflechtungen werden Mediengewohnheiten und damit auch die Austragungsorte kritischer Diskussionen zwangsläufig vielschichtiger. Gleichzeitig rückt vor dem Hintergrund von Globalisierung und Migration das Verhältnis von Zeit und Raum immer stärker in den Blickpunkt von Schriftstellern. Zeitgenossenschaft muss daher nicht auf ihr politisches Moment beschränkt sein, sondern kann auch Zeit- und Raumerfahrungen in der heutigen Netzwerkgesellschaft und dann beispielsweise das Genre der Reiseliteratur, den historischen Roman oder autobiographische Gattungen einschließen. Gerade dieses Zeit-Raum-Verhältnis wird auch im Medium Film und hier besonders ausgeprägt in Filmen des Neorealismus, Dokumentarfilmen oder Roadmovies verhandelt. Mag der Begriff in unserem Sprachgebrauch eng mit kritischem Engagement verknüpft sein, kann ein Autor zudem jenseits dieser Motivation als Zeitzeuge eines bestimmten Ereignisses oder als Zeitgenosse einer anderen Person auftreten. Und schlussendlich ist die Rolle von Zeitgenossenschaft aus sprach- oder übersetzungswissenschaftlicher Perspektive ebenso zu diskutieren wie ihre Bedeutung für den DaF-Unterricht bzw. die Auslandsgermanistik im Allgemeinen. Um dieser Vielfalt Rechnung zu tragen und möglichst neue Perspektiven auf das Thema zu öffnen, wird für die Konferenz von einem bewusst weiten Begriff von Zeitgenossenschaft ausgegangen.

Vorträge könnten sich mit folgenden Themen auseinandersetzen, sind aber selbstverständlich nicht darauf beschränkt:

  • Exilliteratur, Holocaustliteratur, Trümmerliteratur, DDR-Literatur
  • Migrations- und interkulturelle Literatur
  • Politik und Gegenwartsliteratur
  • Erinnerungskultur und Zeitgenossenschaft in Literatur, Film und anderen Medien
  • Darstellung von Zeit und Raum in der Literatur und anderen Medien
  • Diaristische Formen in der Literatur und anderen Medien
  • Fakt und Fiktion in der Literatur und anderen Medien
  • Vox populi und kulturelle/mediale Eliten
  • Politische, literarische u.a. Diskurse aus soziolinguistischer Sicht
  • Zeitgenossenschaft und Sprachbewusstsein
  • Zeitgeschehen und politische Themen im Fremdsprachenunterricht

Interdisziplinäre Beiträge sind ebenso willkommen wie Projekte von Nachwuchsforscher/innen.

Abstracts (Deutsch oder Englisch, max. 400 Wörter) sowie ein kurzer akademischer Lebenslauf können eingereicht werden bis zum 01.06.2019 an: und


Hanna Rompf

Sandra Wagner

Unterstützt von:

Sabine Egger

Christiane Schönfeld


Michelle Müntefering at TCD: The Future of Europe from a German Perspective (Sept. 19th)


The Department of Germanic Studies, Trinity College Dublin, together with the German Embassy Dublin and the Germanic Society TCD, is delighted to host a public lecture by Michelle Müntefering, State Minister for International Cultural Policy at the Federal Foreign Office. Frau Müntefering will address the following topic:

“The Future of Europe from a German Perspective: The Relevance of Cultural and Educational Exchange”

The lecture is aimed primarily at undergraduate students, but all colleagues, postgraduate students, and other interested parties are warmly welcome to attend. It takes place on Wednesday Sept. 19th at 5pm in the Debating Chamber of the Graduate Memorial Building (GMB) on Library Square:

FREE EU ROAMING – A play from Ireland, Germany and the UK about national identity

  • Preview Sep 08 @ 18:45
  • Tickets €11
  • Dates Sep 09-13 @ 21:00
  • Tickets €14 / 12 conc.
  • Duration 60 mins

Venue: Smock Alley Theatre Boys’ School

An Irishwoman, an Englishwoman and a Germanwoman walk into a bar. A hostel bar in Barcelona where a fight for Catalonian independence rages on the streets outside. Aside from disrupted festival-going plans, all they hold in common is a hangover. Trapped, the travellers rip stereotypes into confetti. Grab your passport for a buzzing trip of laughs through the past, present and future of three nations.


Part of the Dublin Fringe Festival

Book here!

CfP: Conflict, Crisis, Culture. German Studies Association of Ireland 16-17 Nov

We invite proposals for the upcoming GSAI conference Conflict, Crisis and Culture, on 16-17th November 2018 at University College Dublin. Presentations will be 20 minutes in length, and may be given in German or English.

Abstracts in Word format, not exceeding 250 words in length, should be sent as email attachment to Gillian Pye ( and Sabine Strümper-Krobb ( Please include your affiliation in the body of the email. Deadline for abstracts 1st Sept.


Conflict, Crisis and Culture

Significant anniversaries relating to conflicts and crises in the German-speaking lands are taking place in 2018, and often they are situated in a transnational framework: 170 years have passed since the Revolutions of 1848; 100 years since the end of the First World War; 50 years since the protests of the ‘68 movement; 10 since the 2008 financial crisis; and, following the so-called Zirkeltag on the 5th February 2018, the Berlin Wall has now been down for longer than it was standing. Contemporary conflicts and crises, including the so-called crisis in contemporary Germanistik, the rise of AfD/ Pegida, the refugee crisis, have also had an impact upon the German language, German culture as well as the teaching of German.

Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:

·       the relationship of conflict and crises to cultural and linguistic change

·        the relationship between politics, economics and culture as debated in literature and culture

·       the contribution of cultural texts towards radical movements

·       cultural texts and the process of dealing with conflict and expressing trauma

·       the concept of ‘Sprachkrise’ in all its manifestations since modernity

·       perceived ‘cultural conflict’ and ‘cultural crises’

Zu der GSAI Tagung am 16-17 November 2018 am University College Dublin laden wir zu Beiträgen zum Tagungsthema Konflikt, Krise und Kultur ein. Die Vortragsdauer beträgt 20 Minuten.

Vortragsvorschläge im Word-Format (250 Wörter), sollten bis zum 1. September 2018 als Email-Anhang an die Organisatorinnen Gillian Pye ( und Sabine Strümper-Krobb ( geschickt werden.


Konflikt, Krise und Kultur

2018 kommt es zu verschiedenen Gedenktagen, die an Konflikte und Krisen in den deutschsprachigen Ländern erinnern und durch die diese sich häufig in einen transnationalen Zusammenhang einordnen lassen: 170 Jahre sind seit den Revolutionen von 1848 vergangen, 100 Jahre seit dem Ende des Ersten Weltkriegs, 50 Jahre seit den Protesten der 1968er Bewegung, 10 Jahre seit der Finanzkrise von 2008; zudem ist, seit dem sogenannten „Zirkeltag“ des 5. Februar 2018, der Zeitraum seit dem Fall der Berliner Mauer erstmals länger als der Zeitraum ihrer Existenz.

Aktuelle Konflikte und Krisen – das Erstarken von AfD/Pegida, die Flüchtlingskrise, und schließlich die sogenannte Krise der zeitgenössischen Germanistik haben ebenfalls eine Einwirkung auf die deutsche Sprache, die deutsche Kultur und nicht zuletzt den DaF-Unterricht gehabt.

Beiträge könnten sich unter anderem mit folgenden Themen befassen, müssen sich aber nicht auf diese beschränken:

·       Das Verhältnis zwischen Konflikten, Krisen und kulturellem und linguistischem Wandel

·       Das Verhältnis zwischen Politik, Wirtschaft und Kultur

·       Der Beitrag kultureller Produktion zu radikalen Bewegungen

·       Kulturelle Texte und die Bewältigung von Konflikt und Trauma

·       Das Konzept von ‚Sprachkrise‘ in all seinen Manifestationen seit der Moderne

·       Andere als Kulturkonflikte oder Kulturkrisen wahrgenommene Prozesse und Entwicklungen