Brian Haman: Pluralistic Selves and the Negotiation of Belonging

Pluralistic Selves and the Negotiation of Belonging: Post-WWII Russian-German Literature and Eastern Europe

By examining a broad selection of post-WWII Russian-German poetry, prose, and literary criticism, my research aims to highlight an often overlooked aspect of German and Eastern European history and thereby to promote a greater awareness of the entangled histories of Eastern Europe and of the relevance of these histories for contemporary debates. More specifically, the research focuses on the writings of three ethnic German authors who worked in different circumstances, different capacities, and in different locations across the former Soviet Union: Herold Belger (1934-2015), Alexej Debolski (1916-1997), and Rudolf Jacquemien (1908-1992). At its core the research aims to weave the transhistorical into the transcultural and transnational. By applying postcolonial theories of diaspora, exile, and migration, the research eschews the zero-sum game of competitive memory in favour of Michael Rothberg’s notion of multidirectional memory, which creates transhistorical and transcultural connections and thereby enlists memory as a means of solidarity amongst disparate groups. In addition to Rothberg’s work on memory, my research draws on various postcolonial and postmodern theories. A number of texts by Belger are read in light of Homi Bhabha’s third space theory. Postmodern theories of humour advanced by Margaret Rose and Linda Hutcheon yield insights into the function of satire in Debolski’s prose. Jacquemien often combined Soviet realism with science fiction and Brian analyzes a number of his novels according to Marxist theories of utopia and the social imagination, with particular emphasis on Jameson’s notion of ‘generic discontinuities’. In other words, postcolonial theories of borders and borderlands, mixing, hybridity, language, translation, double consciousness, homesickness, memory, and nostalgia inform my study of twentieth-century Russian-German authors and their works.

Brian Haman

Dr Brian Haman is a Postdoctoral Associate Fellow in German with the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Warwick, where he received his PhD in German Studies. His primary research strands focus on German Romantic literature and twentieth-century ethnic German authors in the former Soviet Union, respectively, and his previous fellowships include New Europe College (Bucharest), Fulbright (Vienna), and DAAD (Marbach), amongst others. His current research considers the German-language writings of the ethnic German Kazakh writer, Herold Belger, and explores whether Belger’s literary output can be understood as a model for moving beyond the postcolonial struggle for ethnic, cultural, and political autonomy in favour of intercultural encounters. Haman is also working on a book project that examines the journey motif in German romantic culture around 1800. Expanding Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy’s insistence on the centrality of the transcendental subject for the Jena romantics in their aesthetic transformation of philosophical ideas, the monograph identifies the journey motif as a recurrent narrative element of the Jena constellation (Hardenberg, Tieck, F. Schlegel) as well as those on its margins (Hölderlin, Richter, Günderrode, Schiller) and thereby underscores the productive interface between literature and philosophy across various genres (novel, shorter prose fiction, and poetry).
Practicing poet, sometime translator, and avid traveller, his non-academic interests are numerous. He is the Book Review Editor of The Shanghai Literary Review, a contributor to Asian Review of Books, and his writing has appeared in The Guardian and elsewhere.


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