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Title: Screening the East : Heimat, memory and nostalgia in German post-unification film
Author: Hodgin, Nick
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis offers a close study of a wide range of films made between 1989 and 2005, which offer an insight into life in eastern Germany since unification. The principal focus is on the emergence of an east German identity, which, sixteen years since unification, continues to stimulate academic interest but which has seldom been explored in terms of contemporary film. East German identity is considered in its historical and cultural contexts, and with reference to three related issues - Heimat, memory and nostalgia. Having assessed the GDR's attempt to forge an identity and the debate surrounding a separate post-GDR identity, I move on to discuss the films, which are organised and analysed thematically. Drawing on social political studies, cultural theory and archival material, I consider the representation of provincial communities in the popular sentimental Heimat narratives of the early nineties and the period's sober social-critical films, which offer a corrective to the nostalgic impulses of the former. In the chapter that follows, I address the effects of unification on the urban population (principally that of Berlin), and turn to the east Germans' controversial celebration of the GDR past in the final chapter. The analysis of the films concludes that a new east German identity has emerged, one that involves an awkwardly articulated movement, whereby the east Germans face the future whilst simultaneously looking backwards. In some films, this leads to the resurgence of a localised community that celebrates the values of an imagined past, whether of a romanticised, a historical vision of German, or of an idealised GDR. In others, a yearning for the past hinders individuals' arrival in the present. The films, I conclude, ultimately demonstrate the continuation of an east German particularism that resists and problematises true integration between east and west.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available