Marion Gerlind — Literature and Film of the GDR

Marion Gerlind — Literature and Film of the GDR


Thank You Susan and thank you everyone for coming out in this beautiful northern German weather. I want to say good morning and güten morgen. I invite you to start the week by exploring popular literature and culture of a country that no longer exists. We’ll not only travel to this wondrous place as Irmtraud Morgner said but we also travel back in time to the nineteen sixties and seventies which was a highly productive time in the GDR, little-known and overlooked by most Westerners. I’d like to introduce you to some literally gems by East German authors and filmmakers… Those whose work were fortunate enough to be translated into English. I created a course reader with excerpts which is available right now at Instant Copying and Laser Printing on University Avenue at Walnut Street close to the OLLI offices and also our classroom and University Hall. I highly recommend that you study the assigned text in preparation for each session; which will be approximately 50 pages per week. I provide guidin questions for close reading and discussion with partners and in small groups. This is an interactive seminar in which i facilitate whole-group discussions and also present short lectures. For our third session will be studying short prose biographies of heterosexual working-class women as well as two interviews by a lesbian leftist parliamentarian in the early nineteen nineties after the unification of Germany. Then we’ll read excerpts from Christa Wolf’s novel “Der geteilte Himmel” or “They Divided the Sky.” It’s a story that exemplifies how friends and families were torn apart by the division of Germany into a socialist and a capitalist country. I hope to also show you some clips from the film made after the book. In our third week we’ll watch section from Heiner Carow’s love story called “Die Legende von Paul und Paula” — the legend of Paul and Paula — which was nearly not released because of its political overtones. It’s one of the most popular and best known East German films and I would like to know who of you knows this film. Well that’s a lot to learn and hope you’ll join me. In our fourth session we’ll study Jurek Becker’s novel “Jakob der Lügner” — Jakob the Liar — about a Jew in a Polish ghetto during World War Two who keeps the hope of liberation alive among the ghetto inhabitants by pretending to possess a forbidden radio and listening to the news about approaching Red Army. We’ll then watch clips of Jacob the Liar in its East German/Czechoslovakian film production directed by Frank Beyer. This film became a huge success not only in the GDR but also internationally. We’ll conclude our seminar with an excerpt from Irmtraud Morgner’s fun and fantasy-filled novel “Leben und Abenteuer der Trobadora Beatriz
nach Zeugnissen ihrer Spielfrau Laura” And in English: “Life and Adventures of Trobadora Beatrice as chronicled by her minstrel Laura.” Morgner recreates the story of Beatrice de Dia, a troubadour in twelfth-century Provence. Unhappy with the misogyny of the Middle Ages, Beatrice makes a pact with Persephone to sleep for 810 years in order to wait for a time when women’s equality will have been realized. Unfortunately after a rude awakening in France in 1968, a visiting journalist urges Beatrice to visit his native land, the GDR, assuring her that this is an ideal country where women are truly free and emancipated. To learn if this is true please join me on Mondays at 10. Thank you.

local_offerevent_note September 23, 2019

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