Richard McCormick examines the concepts of postmodernity and postmodernism as they apply to West Germany, discussing them against the background of cultural and political upheaval in that country since the 1960s, rather than exclusively in the more familiar setting of intellectual history. Considering six literary and cinematic texts that are marked by a preoccupation with the self and subjectivity, he underscores the crucial influence of feminism on writers and filmmakers--and on the "postmodern." In a broad international context he describes the conflicting forces that affected the West German student movementthe rationalistic tradition of the Weimar Left and more "irrational" influences such as French existentialism and surrealism (as well as the American "Beat" movement and rock & roll)--and shows how these forces played themselves out so that dogmatic Marxist Leninism was repudiated in favor of a "New Subjectivity.".
At the center of the discussion are the novels Lenz by Peter Schneider, Class Love (Klassenliebe) by Karin Struck, and Devotion by Botho Strauss, and the films Wrong Move written by Peter Handke and directed by Wim Wenders, Germany, Pale Mother by Helma Sanders-Brahms, and The Subjective Factor by Helke Sander. The author shows how ongoing attempts to attack the separation of emotion from reason, life from art, the private from the public, and the personal from the political brought about changes in outlook, from the 1960s to the early 1980s, that are related to the rise of new political movements--ecology, nuclear disarmament, and feminism.
Originally published in 1991.
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"This is a most comprehensive and insightful account of major developments in West German culture since the 1960s. Film and literature studies often remain in isolation from each other. McCormick brings them together, and his interpretations gather force through their contextual framing. What I particularly like about the book is that it makes significant connections between American and German culture."--Andreas Huyssen, Columbia University
"Richard McCormick argues convincingly for a fundamentally historical understanding of postmodernism in literature and in culture in generala postmodernism resulting in large part from the increasing influence of feminism in West German cultural life. The historical examination of the New Left and its shifting view of the `politics of the self' is especially impressive, as is the analysis of the relationship between aesthetics and politics in the post-1968 period."--Patrice Petro, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee