Fortieth Annual German Studies Association Conference, September 29 – October 2 2016, San Diego, CA
Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, child and adolescent perspectives on the GDR have come into focus again – as evidenced by bestsellers such as Marvel's graphic novel Kinderland (2014). Equally fascinating as such retrospectively created GDR imaginations are images of the GDR that developed within the socialist state and depict the lived realities of its citizens and particularly of its children and youth.
In the GDR, as in the Soviet Union, children's and youth literature was a vehicle for promoting socialist ideology. It resisted degenerating into corny, merely entertaining literature, highlighting instead politically relevant topics pertaining to German and Soviet history, proletarian internationalism, and the socialist German state. In fact, GDR society valued their youth as an important component of the state, and consequently literature for young people was considered part and parcel of high culture. Twenty-five years after German unification, it behooves us to investigate the literary imaginary of the GDR also from children's and young adults' perspectives – images that accrued during the years of quotidian socialism within East Germany as well as from the outside, and those that were generated after 1990.
This panel seeks papers that investigate images of the GDR presented in literature for children and young adults – written in as well as outside the GDR, and before as well as after the historical caesura of 1989/90. Contributions that examine literary traditions, influences, functions, aesthetics, censorship and Kindheitsbilder within GDR society are particularly welcome. We are open to inquiries into a wide range of genres, including children's fiction, youth novels, comics and graphic novels, children's and youth film (both DEFA film or post-wall productions) as well as non-fiction.