The portrayal of education in prose works of the German Democratic Republic : ideology and reality
The opening discussion on the debate amongst GDR educationalists and writers following the events of Autumn 1989 identifies education as a crucial area of research, which allows the further analysis of a broad range of societal issues. The thesis traces the historical and socio-political background to the German educational tradition, examining in particular its influence on the development of the 'Bildungsroman' as a literary genre. It highlights the conscious decision by GDR 'Bildungs- undKulturpolitiker', and writers, in the post-war period to combine these essentially bourgeois traditions with those of Marxism-Leninism, and considers the implications of this policy for both the emerging education system and subsequent GDR literature. Throughout, education is shown to be perceived as an integral and integrating element of societal policy, a belief reflected in the central position it is afforded in a wide range of literary works. The thesis acknowledges the brief emergence of a 'sozialistischer Bildungsroman' during the 'Aufbau' period, and discusses reasons why, in the years which followed, this form was increasingly adapted and finally abandoned. Looking both at children's and adult literature, the thesis not only offers analysis of essential educational axes - the potential conflict between product and process-oriented education, the mentor-protegée) relationship, the relationship of school and home life, school and the real world - but examines also the exploitation by writers of established educational patterns in their efforts to discuss broader societal issues and to question the role of literature itself.