Date: 4 May 2011 Time: 5.00 pm
Venue: Bowland North Seminar Room 17
DELC RESEARCH SEMINAR SERIES
Margaret Littler (Manchester)
'The Fall of the Wall as non-event in the work of Zafer Senocak and Emine Sevgi Özdamar'
Ten years after German unification the Turkish-German writer Zafer Şenocak memorably described the fall of the Berlin Wall as the coming together of 'Anatolian Berlin' and 'Soviet Berlin', thus downplaying the city's status as world-metropolis, and reminding us of its Cold War division and the large Turkish presence in West Berlin since the 1970s. In the same essay he juxtaposed the slogan 'Germany is not a country of immigration' with the assertion that 'Berlin is a city of immigration par excellence', a city where one can be at ease without feeling at home. Yet he, like many other acculturated Turks in Germany, found new barriers erected just as the Berlin Wall came down. This paper reviews German unification from the perspective of two of its immigrant intellectuals, with a particular focus on their literary representations of the Berlin Wall as a threshold rather than a barrier, and of the city's unstable foundations on the sandy Brandenburg earth. In Emine Sevgi Özdamar's Strange Stars Stare Toward Earth (2003) and Zafer Şenocak's Perilous Kinship (1998), it considers depictions of Berlin from a materialist perspective, not simply as backdrop but as dynamic milieu. From Özdamar's protagonist's charmed crossings of the Wall in the 1970s, to Şenocak's view of Berlin as permanent building site in the 1990s, the paper will consider how their writing cuts across the old political structure of East and West.
Margaret Littler is Professor of Contemporary German Culture at the University of Manchester, where she has taught since 1990. She is editor of Gendering German Studies (1997) and co-author with Brigid Haines of Contemporary Women's Writing in German: Changing the Subject (2004), and is currently working on a book project on the work of Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Zafer Şenocak and Feridun Zaimoğlu as 'minor literature' in Deleuze and Guattari's transformative, creative sense.
Who can attend: Anyone
Organising departments and research centres: European Languages and Cultures