Cristina Spinei: Representations of Otherness: Voices “from Outside” in Contemporary German-speaking Literature
Representations of Otherness: Voices “from Outside” in Contemporary German-speaking Literature
This project deals with new forms of literary exoticism in contemporary German-language literature such as texts written by Terézia Mora, Dimitré Dinev, Yurii Andrukhovych and Saša Stanišić. Each text contains at least one new form of literary exoticism. Common to the novels’ plots is that all are located in the present from where the past is at best remembered or recapitulated. The starting point of the narrators for their stories is the German-speaking world, even if parts of the plot take place elsewhere. Categories of here and now can be regarded as constitutive for the literary exoticism of the present. In addition to the mentioned temporal-spatial anchoring, there are some old topoi and motifs in terms of content, which must be counted to these new forms due to their contemporary shaping. This includes, for example, the topos of the ‘noble savages’. A certain role in the exotic view of the foreign, of the other, is still played by criticism of civilization and by motifs of longing. But what is far more important in the present process of exoticism is revealing the self-conception of this exoticism as a kind of anti-racism, a form of expression of tolerance, which significantly differentiates the procedure from the exotic travel descriptions of the 18th century, for example. Comparable distancing effects can also be observed. In the main, this new exoticism is an individual-related one, distinguishing a certain group or individuals from the masses on the basis of quite arbitrary features and isolating them, thereby divesting them of the normative society, that is, of the main culture – although in a positive sense, but nevertheless transferring them ‘exo’: outside.
Cristina Spinei studied German, English and European Studies in Iaşi, Vienna, Constance and Regensburg. She is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in German Classicism, Romanticism, Realism and also in Literature and Media at the Institute for German Studies (University of Iaşi, Romania); she published her doctoral thesis in 2011 on Gregor von Rezzori and authored the first monograph on this multilateral writer. She has publications and talks at international conferences in the fields of competence: social and cultural history of Central Europe and of Bukovina; German literature of the 20th century; interrelatedness of literature, history and politics; communication theories; representations of the Holocaust in German literature. She has worked on several projects dedicated to the cultural landscape of Bukovina and has had, inter alia, a DAAD-Fellowship (University of Konstanz, 2002–2003), a Franz-Werfel- Doctoral fellowship (University of Vienna, 2008-2010), and a scholarship from the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (University of Regensburg, 2003-2005).