The talk will be held in German.
Stasiakten als life writing. Figurationen eines geheimdienstlichen Lebens
With the collapse of Eastern European communism there emerged a new text type and source for literary historians and historians alike: the secret police file. In Australia secret police files have become increasingly relevant for research on Australian writers with connections to the communist party, as well as in Germany where the files of the State Security (Stasi) of the GDR are of central importance for working through the East German past. This is particularly the case for the heavily infiltrated field of literature. On the one hand, the Stasi files, which have been publicly available since 1992, have been indispensable for researching many writers’ life histories, since there was scarcely an author who had no contact with the Stasi, either as a target of surveillance or as an informant or both. On the other hand, the files play an important role for those affected themselves – mainly for the victims of the regime – when looking back on their lives and writing their autobiographies. In light of the high value placed on the Stasi files it seems appropriate to investigate more closely the nexus between the secret police file and biography. My research project aims to examine the genre of the Stasi files as a form of life writing while also developing a pragmatics and poetics of the uses of Stasi files in writers’ biographies and autobiographies. In this lecture I aim to shed light on the Stasi file as a figuration of a secret police life, that is, a life of an enemy of the state, through which writers were classified as security risks and accordingly disciplined and punished.
Respondent: Ralph Jessen (Köln)