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Schnoor, Rainer (Hrsg.)

Amerikanistik in der DDR: Geschichte – Analysen – Zeitzeugenberichte

 

trafo verlag, Berlin 1999, [= Gesellschaft - Geschichte - Gegenwart, Bd. 19], 256 S., ISBN 3-89626-197-5, 24,80 EUR

 

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Amerikanistik in der DDR? Selbst bei Leuten aus dem akademischen Metier aus westlichen Ländern trifft dieses Thema mitunter auf ungläubiges Kopfschütteln: Das gab‘s doch gar nicht! Das konnte und durfte es doch gar nicht geben in einem Staat, der so auf die Sowjetunion fixiert war wie die DDR.

Dieser Sammelband versucht, einen Beitrag zur Information, gegen ahnungslose oder böswillige Klischees oder gegen Ignoranz zu leisten.

Er versucht, etwas von dem zu bieten, was Jürgen Kocka vom Umgang mit der DDR-Geschichte erwartet: die Balance von Infragestellung und Selbstbehauptung, die Pflicht der damals Agierenden zur hermeneutischen Rekonstuktion, die historisch-empirische Bestandsaufnahme.

All dies wird dadurch unternommen, daß die Autoren eine kritische Analyse der Dokumente vornehmen, die der Anglistik-Amerikanistik-Ausbildung in der DDR zugrunde lagen. Ebenso wird ein kritischer Blick auf die verschrifteten Forschungsergebnisse geworfen.

Vor allem aber - und darin liegt das Besondere des Bandes - stellen die Autorinnen und Autoren aus der Insider-Position die Evolution des Faches dar, das zwar nicht zu den wichtigsten im Gefüge der DDR-Gesellschaftswissenschaften und Philologien gehörte, sich doch aber einer besonderen Aufmerksamkeit erfreute. Diese Aufmerksamkeit kam von "oben" und von "unten". Sie bewirkte, daß sich die DDR-Amerikanistik in einem Regelkreis bewegte und bewegen mußte: Da waren die politischen und ideologischen Parameter des Systems, da war der eigene Anspruch auf adäquate Repräsentation der USA in Forschung und Lehre, und da waren die Erwartungen eines großenteils USA-interessierten Publikums.

Der Aufgabe der Rekonstruktion dieses Regelkreises stellen sich die Autorinnen und Autoren auf unterschiedliche Art, die von harter Retro- und Introspektion bis hin zur trotzigen Verteidigung damaliger Haltungen und Leistungen reicht.

Die Autorinnen und Autoren wissen, wovon sie reden: Die meisten waren zu DDR-Zeiten in markanten Positionen tätig.

Das Ergebnis ihrer Bemühungen sind Mosaiksteine zu einem noch zu schaffenden Gesamtbild einer Disziplin, deren Existenzbedingungen sich von den 50er bis zu den 80er Jahren durch die Veränderungen der politischen Großwetterlage merklich wandelten.

In der Darstellung von Zeitzeugenschaft und in der zeitgeschichtlichen Kontextualisierung, die über die Wende und die Wiedervereinigung hinausgeführt werden, liegt das Interessante dieses Bandes.

 

 

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Vorwort 9
Rainer Schnoor

Ten Years After – Veränderungen in den ostdeutschen Amerikanistik-Landschaften seit 1989 13
Rainer Schnoor

Amerikanistik in 40 Jahren DDR: Eine wissenschaftshistorische Skizze 29
Rainer Schnoor

Amerikanistik an den Hochschulen und Schulen der DDR zwischen zentralistischer Steuerung und Emanzipation 51
Gudrun Bahls/ Wolfgang Wicht

Die Amerikanistik an der Universität Leipzig (1950–1990) – 40 Jahre Gratwanderungen eines ungeliebten Faches 67
Eberhard Brüning

Zur Erforschung der USA-Historiographie nach dem II. Weltkrieg in der DDR 87
Alfred Loesdau

Forschungen zur Außenpolitik der USA – Zwischen ideologischen Zwängen und der Wahrnehmung von Realitäten 101
Claus Montag

Die Native American Studies und ihre Rezeption in der DDR 123
Ulrich van der Heyden

USA-Populärkultur in der DDR: Bewertung und Interpretation in den Medien und in der Amerikanistik 153
Thomas Fuchs

Westöstliche engagements: Eine bi(bli)ographische Reminiszenz 173
Robert Weimann

Über den Umgang mit dem Diskurs von Poststrukturalismus und Postmoderne in der DDR 189
Utz Riese

Wie ich "Amerika" in Greifswald und anderswo studierte: Erinnerungen an die 1980er Jahre 211
Anette Brauer

Vor und nach drei Semestern am Colby College: Forschungsmöglichkeiten in der USA-Landeskunde und die Rezeption ihrer Ergebnisse in der DDR 221
Elfi Schneidenbach

Das Flaggschiff: USA-Redakteur beim "Neuen Deutschland" 229
Klaus Steiniger

Amerikanistik in Potsdam: Eine Chronologie von Erinnerungen 237
Heinz Wüstenhagen

Summaries 243

Personenregister 249

 

Summaries

Ten years after
Rainer Schnoor, editor of this volume, formerly senior lecturer in American Studies at Potsdam College of Education, now senior lecturer at Potsdam University, describes the post-1989 developments in East German American Studies. He distinguishes between the 1989/1990 interregnum and the subsequent gradual substitution of the East German by the West German academic system. He draws a map of the contact zones of incoming West German and the remaining incumbent East German faculty.

40 Years of American Studies in the GDR…
In this essay in the history of science the author attempts a sketch of the evolution of American Studies in the GDR. By incorporating political and cultural history as well as the history of ideas and personal recollection, he draws a picture of the expanding scope and opportunities of the field, its achievements and deficits.

Education and Educationudies in the GDR…
Gudrun Bahls, formerly coordinator for English and American Studies at the GDR Ministry of Education, now teacher of English at Brandenburg College, and Wolfgang Wicht, also coordinator at the Ministry of Education until 1976, then Professor of English Literature at Potsdam College of Education, now in retirement, analyze the administrative, formal framework for English and American Studies from the ministry‘s perspective.
They show that the discipline was, on the one hand, centrally directed by the state but, on the other hand, was relatively free to shape a profile of its own. From firsthand experience they trace the stages of curricular development and changes in GDR literary theory.

American Studies at Leipzig University…
Eberhard Brüning, one of the nestors of American Studies in East Germany, formerly Chair of English and American Studies at Karl-Marx-University in Leipzig and Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts, now professor emeritus, writes the history of his department from 1950-1990, describes the survival strategies in his field in an unfriendly environment in the 1950s and 1960s as well as the new opportunities offered in the 1970s and 1980s, the era of détente and diplomatic recognition of the GDR by the USA.

Postwar US Historiography Research in the GDR…
Alfred Loesdau, formerly professor at the Academy of Social Sciences at the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity (Communist) Party in Berlin, now in retirement, analyzes his department‘s research, an ideological critique of "bourgeois" historiography in general and US postwar history writing in particular. In self-critical introspection he shows how politically oriented approaches limit and stifle research and lead to simplified conclusions.

US Foreign Policy Research in the GDR…
Claus Montag, historian and former Chair of US Foreign Policy Studies at the Institute of International Relations in Potsdam-Babelsberg ; now, in retirement, editor and coordinator of various academic projects, reviews the close determination of science by the demands of politics and the negative consequences of this relationship for research.
As a former diplomat he shows how foreign policy was shaped by ideological constructs with a minimum of political science support.

Native American Studies in the GDR...
Ulrich van der Heyden, formerly researcher at the Academy of Sciences, now at Berlin’s Humboldt University, has been one of the few Native American Studies Experts in the GDR.
In his carefully documented paper he analyzes the sources and components of the "noble savage" image of American Indians in the GDR. He describes the East German history of and the enormous public interest in the field and the ways to satisfy this interest.

US Popular Culture in GDR American Studies and Media…  
Thomas Fuchs, who earned his Ph. D. from the University of Oregon and presently teaches American Studies at Magdeburg, surveys a field of great public and little academic importance in the GDR: US popular culture.
Enthusiastically received by the younger generation and attacked by officials in state, education, and culture, US popular culture, especially rock music, was never a field of cultural analysis in GDR American Studies.

West-East Bi(bli)ographical Recollection…
Robert Weimann, formerly professor at Potsdam and at Humboldt University, Director of Research in English and American Literature at the GDR Academy of Sciences, long-term President of the German Shakespeare Society (Weimar) ; now, as an emeritus, Professor of Drama at the University of California, Irvine, presents his personal recollection of his transatlantic engagements.
These engagements had a twofold purpose: to contribute to the development of advanced, nondogmatic Marxist literary theory in East and West and to appropriate Western literary theory in the GDR. In stylistic elegance this bio- bibliographical sketch gives evidence of Weimann‘s position as a mediator between two worlds.

Poststructuralism and Postmodernism in GDR Literary Theory…
Utz Riese, originally teacher of English, then researcher at the Academy of Science‘s English and American Literature Research Group ; now at the Berlin Center for Literary Studies, discusses the extraordinary character of the Weimann research group and its attempt to appropriate poststructuralism and postmodernism for GDR literary studies.
He analyzes the efforts to overcome the limited concept of literature and realism by the concepts of representation and appropriation. He shows the frictions between the relatively homogeneous, rational, teleological Marxist theory and the heterogeneous postmodernist constructs.

"America" in Greifswald in the 1980s…
Anette Brauer, in the 1980s student of English and Russian at Greifswald University, one of the few GDR exchange students in the USA, now on the faculty of Greifswald‘s English and American Department, relates her individual impressions of being a student of English in the GDR of the 1980s. She recalls the ideological penetration of the studies leading to overflow effects and political disinteredness amongst students.
She describes her cultural shock after her return from her study trip in 1988.

American Studies after Three Semesters at Colby College...
Elfi Schneidenbach, who studied English and Russian at Leipzig, received her doctorate at Jena University, worked in the Ministry of Higher Education and the Academy of Sciences.
After the Academy was dissolved in 1991/92, she has been working as a free-lance language instructor and translator.
In her paper she surveys the development of GDR-USA academic exchange in the 1970s and 1980s and describes the thorny path of selecting, "processing" and preparing candidates for study trips to the USA. She uses her own experience as a case study.

Covering the USA for the Communist Party Daily "Neues Deutschland"…
Klaus Steiniger, who studied law at Berlin‘s Humboldt University, first worked as an attorney and mayor, then in the GDR Foreign Ministy, became the leading expert on the USA in the "Neues Deutschland". Today in retirement, he works as a free-lance journalist and author.
In his paper he draws a vivid picture of the Cold War frictions he encountered in his journalistic work, the complicated process preceding the diplomatic recognition of the GDR by the USA in 1974, and the subsequent opportunistic attitude of GDR officialdom toward the USA.

American Studies in Potsdam…
Heinz Wüstenhagen, formerly Professor of American Literature at Potsdam College of Education, is now an emeritus. In this chronology he analyzes the evolutionary stages in English-American Studies in Potsdam.
He highlights the cultural and academic importance of West Berlin for East German Americanists before the Wall and ends on a critical note concerning his field in East Germany after reunification.