Gegenwartsliteratur Theme Issue: Emine Sevgi Özdamar

The latest issue of Gegenwartsliteraturedited by Paul Michael Lützeler and Thomas W. Kniesche, focuses on the work of Emine Sevgi Özdamar and features contributions by several WiGgies, including Leslie A. Adelson of Cornell University, Beverly M. Weber of University of Colorado Boulder, and Claire Amanda Ross of Washington University in St. Louis. Find abstracts of their work below and the complete table of contents here.

LESLIE A. ADELSON, “Future Narrative as Contested Ground: Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s “Bahnfahrt” and Michael Götting’s Contrapunctus.

Opening with Adorno’s 20th-century reflections “from damaged life” on exilic writing as a break in time, this essay analyzes innovative forms of radical futurity in little known 21st-century fiction by Emine Sevgi Özdamar, who holds emblematic status on Germany’s path from Turkish migration to transcultural Europe, and Michael Götting, who has authored the first sustained novel about Black German experience in contemporary Berlin. Minoritarian future-making in Özdamar’s “Bahnfahrt” (2008) and Götting’s Contrapunctus (2015) is illuminated in formal and social terms with the narratological concept of “future narrative” and Hannah Arendt’s philosophical insistence on a structural breach in the “heart of time.” The literary comparison demonstrates in turn Özdamar’s and Götting’s cutting-edge German-language contributions to future studies and narrative theory today

BEVERLY M. WEBER, “Precarious Intimacies: Politics and Solidarities in Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s Die Brücke vom Goldenen Horn.”

In this article I propose the notion of precarious intimacies as entry point into the representation of the political in Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s work. Through an analysis of Die Brücke vom Goldenen Horn, I explore intimacies as sites of transformation and political potentiality in the novel, as spaces that nurture political solidarities and spaces in which their loss is most keenly felt. Reading for precarious intimacies reveals aesthetic strategies that highlight the politically generative capacity of intimacy in the face of precarity, but also enacts a politics of interpretation that might challenge the conditions of precarity. I thus both examine the politics and aesthetics of intimacy as represented in the text, and consider the interpretive work of reading intimacy politically.

CLAIRE AMANDA ROSS, “The Avian Muttermund in Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei.

The mother-son narratives told by paternal grandmother Ayşe in Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei, which draw on two versions of the mythic mouth-vulva analogy, perpetuate more often than undermine dominant phallocentric discourse on motherhood. Her regular stories celebrate mothers who brutally combat the threat that non-mothers’ vaginae dentatae (devouring sexuality) pose to their sons and fathers. Yet, in her outlier, a divine mother bird acquires a loving tongue, enabling a womb-like relationship with a boy. The intersubjective relationship between boy and bird, based on an organ (tongue) that is present as a possibility, even when absent, undercuts the phallocentrism of Ayşe’s other tales and the (protagonist’s) world, and invites a feminist reconceptualization of even the penis itself.

Women Writing War: From German Colonialism through World War I, Available 9/20

Drs. Barbara Kosta, Katharina von Hammerstein, and Julie Shoults’ Women Writing War: From German Colonialism through World War I will be published by De Gruyter on September 20. The edited volume, which grew out of a panel at WiG 2014, features essays by many WiGgies and explores “female-authored, German-language texts focusing on German colonial wars and World War I and the discourses that promoted or critiqued their premises.” Congratulations to the editors and contributors on this important volume! Check out the table of contents, below. Reminder: If you purchase a copy through Amazon, make sure to make Coalition of Women in German Inc your designated AmazonSmile charity.

Introduction: Women Writing War: From German Colonialism through World War I – Katharina von Hammerstein, Barbara Kosta, and Julie Shoults

Representations of Colonial Conflicts

“Who Owns Hereroland?”: Diverse Women’s Perspectives on Violence in the German-Herero Colonial War – Katharina von Hammerstein

Christian Love and Other Weapons: The Domestic Heroine of the Multiracial Colonial Mission “Family” as an Antiwar Icon in Hedwig Irle’s Mission Memoirs – Cindy Patey Brewer

Girls, Imperialism and War in Women’s Writing from the German-Herero War and WWI – Maureen O. Gallagher

Views from the Colonies on WWI

Woman on the Edge of Time: Frieda Schmidt and the Great War in East Africa – Marianne Bechhaus-Gerst

World War I in Samoa as Reported by Frieda Zieschank in the German Colonial Magazine Kolonie und Heimat – Livia Rigotti

Political Perspectives on Nationalism and WWI

Bertha von Suttner’s Die Waffen nieder! and the Gender of German Pacifism – Shelley E. Rose

Ricarda Huch’s First World War – James M. Skidmore

Hermynia Zur Mühlen: Writing a Socialist-Feminist Pacifism in the Aftermath of WWI – Julie Shoults

Constructing the Labor of War: Girls, Mothers and Nurses

Girls Reading the Great War: German and Anglo-American Literature for Young Women, 1914–1920 – Jennifer Redmann

Käte Kestien’s Als die Männer im Graben lagen: WWI Criticism through the Lens of Motherhood – Cindy Walter-Gensler

Three Nurses’ Life-Writing: Scrapbook, Portrait, and Construction of a Self – Margaret R. Higonnet

Narratives of Loss and Grief in Art and Literature

Writing and Reading Death: German Women’s Novels of World War I – Erika Quinn

War Widows’ Dilemma: Emotion, the Myths of War and the Search for Selbständigkeit – Erika Kuhlman

Intimations of Mortality from Recollections of Atrocity: Käthe Kollwitz and the Art of Mourning – Martina Kolb

Didem Uca Writes about Multilingual Theater Project for Fulbright Blog

In a post for the Fulbright Student Program Blog entitled “All the World’s a Stage: Theater as Community Engagement,” Didem Uca, PhD candidate (ABD) at the University of Pennsylvania, reflects on how the experience of writing and performing in an intercultural theater project during her time as a Fulbright Fellow in Berlin impacted her scholarship and teaching.

Collaborating with the cast and crew felt like putting theory into practice; it gave me first-hand experience of the kinds of transcultural labor performed by the writers and protagonists I examine in my research, simultaneously enriching my understanding of transnational, multilingual art forms and my own self-understanding as a Turkish-American PhD Candidate in German studies. Writing and performing in this production and even helping to create the sets has invigorated my desire to become an active participant in contemporary German culture rather than a mere observer. I also feel encouraged to incorporate the arts in my teaching, scholarship, and activist work so that students and members of the community may feel inspired to make German culture their own.

Read more here.

Dr. Vanessa Plumly Honored with AATG Award

Congratulations to Dr. Vanessa Plumly of SUNY New Paltz on receiving a German Embassy Teacher of Excellence Award from the American Association of Teachers of German! Award recipients are “outstanding up-and-coming teachers who may have started a new program or revitalized an existing one, and contribute to their AATG chapter.” Dr. Plumly will be honored at the AATG/ACTFL Convention in November.

Dr. Vanessa Plumly


Turkish-German Yearbook, Vol. 8: Tradition und Moderne in Bewegung

The editors of the Jahrbuch Türkisch-Deutsche Studien are pleased to announce Volume 8: Tradition und Moderne in Bewegung. The articles in this volume bear witness to the productive energy of the interplay between tradition and modernity, whether in theater, literature, or popular culture. At the same time, they emphasize the importance of cultural intermediaries, including translators. The volume thus illustrates that – despite (or precisely because of) political developments in Turkey and Germany, alike – a multitude of Turkish-German themes remain vital in both society and the academy, urging further consideration, investigation, discussion, and presentation.

The volume features an article by WiGgie Steffen Kaupp titled “Palimpsestic Performances: Adaptation and Intertextuality in Nurkan Erpulat and Jens Hillje’s Verrücktes Blut” and WiGgie Didem Uca is Assistant Editor of the journal. The volume is open access and available here: