Gedenken und Gedächtnis: Memory and commemoration in contemporary German literature. A digital media repository for the study of German literature & culture

The digital media repository Memory and Commemoration is an extensive collection of interviews with contemporary German writers, mostly based in Berlin.  Geared toward intermediate and advanced students of German, the collection centers on the authors’ views on memory and commemoration, a key theme in German literature and society.

The repository encourages students to explore how events of the German past, such as the Holocaust and reunification, are remembered in literary texts, and in particular, how poetic strategies are used to juxtapose the past and the present, how the remembering subject is constructed and the ways in which private and subjective memories are embedded in collective memory.  Furthermore, the interviews investigate the ways these authors create and maintain discourse of private and collective memory via their literary texts as it is discussed and reflected in present-day Germany.

By means of an interactive interface, students can focus on specific interview segments and build collections, collaborate with each other and compare findings. Students explore the complex interconnections that form literary texts, such as those between text and culture, and between text and the author’s personal history.  Students can compare different approaches to writing, as well as aesthetic concepts, and different ways in which writers construct memories.  
The digital media repository may be used either in conjunction with the authors’ literary work or as a standalone, providing students with a rich view of a variety of approaches to the literary construction of memory.  Memory and Commemoration has been used in German language and literature courses at MIT since 2004.

Sponsors:
The Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning, Yale University, New Haven, CT.
The Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation, Boston.

Project Lead