CfP – The Phantasmatic GDR: The Socialist Imaginary Today (GSA 2020)

Open Call for Papers sponsored by the GSA Interdisciplinary GDR and German Socialisms Network for the 44th Annual Conference of the German Studies Association, Washington D.C., October 1-4, 2020.

Deadline: January 15, 2020

The Phantasmatic GDR: The Socialist Imaginary Today

2020 marks not only the 30th anniversary of German unification of 1990, but also the end of 40 years of real-existing socialism in the GDR. Remarkably, the bygone state and its culture, but also a variety of myths about everyday life in socialism continue to occupy the German imaginary — as the entire gamut of TV series, films, and popular novels in recent years reveals.

In a series of panels at the GSA 2020, we therefore want to look back at what socialism meant for those who lived in the GDR, and simultaneously raise awareness for the fact that nowadays, “knowledge” about the GDR is often not so much transferred via GDR culture and historical research as through an assortment of cultural artifacts – ranging from graphic novels and films to works of art – that were produced after 1990, and therefore serve to create an imaginary, or as Stephen Brockmann has termed it, a “phantasmatic GDR.”

In order to acknowledge the 30th anniversary of 40 years of socialism in Germany, the “GDR and Socialisms Network” seeks papers that critically engage with visions of the GDR as presented in post-unification literature, film, art, music, and other cultural products. This includes, but is by no means limited to the following topics:

–        East German culture and/or its reception since 1990

–        The Nazi past and (esp. East German) present

–        The role of Ostalgie for today’s views of the GDR

–        The role of websites like “Open Memory Box” on our understanding of the GDR

–        Physical reminders of the GDR in the urban environment, and attempts to save and/or eliminate them

–        The relationship between PEGIDA and/or the AfD and current views of the GDR

Please submit a 200 to 250-word abstract and a short CV (no more than two pages) to April Eisman ( and Sonja Klocke ( by Wednesday, January 15, 2020. We expect to create a sequence of 2-4 panels.

The GDR and GERMAN SOCIALISMS NETWORK is a vehicle for connecting the diversity of current scholarship on the GDR with a broader academic base that explores the impact and meanings of Socialism in all of its manifestations, from its beginnings in the 19th century to the present. Encouraging both speculative and empirical methodologies, the Network seeks to bring together scholars operating in all fields and time periods for a productive exchange that questions the world in which we live and the political machinations that created it.

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