The GDR Today

Research, Students
Friday 10th January 2014 (08:30-18:00)

For further details, please contact the organisers: Dr Joanne Sayner ( and Dr Sara Jones (

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A postgraduate colloquium co-organised with colleagues from the Universities of Bristol and Bangor and supported jointly by the University of Birmingham’s Graduate Centre for Europe and Institute for German Studies. It will bring together postgraduate researchers from across the UK to consider recent developments in the history and representation of East Germany. Professor Helmut Peitsch (Universität Potsdam) and Professor Dennis Tate (University of Bath) will act as discussants for the student papers.


8.30-9.00 Registration and Coffee

9.00-9.15 Welcome Address

9.15-10.30 Panel 1 – Literature and Culture

Chair: Professor. Helmut Peitsch, Respondent: Prof. Dennis Tate

  • 1. The culinary GDR: representations of food and rituals of eating in contemporary German films and museums, Stefanie Kreibich (Bangor University)
  • 2. "Major cultural commemorations and the construction of cultural & political identity in the GDR", David Zell (University of Birmingham)
  • 3. "Kleist Reception in GDR Literature and Theatre", Stephan Ehrig (University of Bristol)
  • 4. Shifting Perspectives: Christa Wolf - From Victim to Perpetrator, Jeannine Jud (NUI Galway, Ireland)

10.30-11.30 Panel 2 – Film and Visual Culture

Chair: Professor Dennis Tate, Respondent: Dr Joanne Sayner

  • 5. 'Surely the East Germans didn't make films about the Holocaust?' Representations of Jewish persecution in East German Cinema, Elizabeth Ward (University of Leeds)
  • 6. The cinematographic relationships between France and the GDR, Perrine Val (University of Paris/Centre Marc Bloch)
  • 7. The Problem of the Missing Museum: Adventures and Misadventures in the Exhibition of Photographs in the GDR, Sarah Goodrum (University of South California)

11.30-12.00 Coffee

12.00-13.00 Panel 3 – The Politics of History and History of Politics

Chair: Dr Debbie Pinfold, Respondent: Dr Anna Saunders

  • 8. What is the relationship between the history and/or culture of the GDR and its representation in memory?, Ivor Bolton (University of Birmingham)
  • 9. The GDR in urban perspective: Urban Development and conflicts of interests within the East German state, Christian Rau (Universität Leipzig)
  • 10. Socialism in Our Village: Remembering the GDR through the Local Lens, Marcel Thomas (University of Bristol)

13.00-14.15 Lunch

14.15-15.15 Panel 4 – History or Memory? Communicating the East German Past

Chair: Dr Joanne Sayner, Respondent: Professor Helmut Peitsch

  • 11. The GDR's Third Generation – Between Identity Crisis and Self-discovery, Katrin Bahr (presenter) and Melanie Lorek (University of Massachusetts/University of New York)
  • 12. Public and Private Memories of the German Democratic Republic: Does Generation Matter?, Pamela Heß (Goethe University Frankfurt/M.)
  • 13. Memory as transmission - an East German generation ‘remembers’ the GDR, Hanna Haag (University of Hamburg)

15.15-15.45 Coffee

15.45-17.00 Panel 5 – Museums and Memorials

Chair: Dr Anna Saunders, Respondent: Dr Sara Jones

  • 14. The 'Lost Decade'? The 1950s in GDR Museums, Stephanie Bostock (Bangor University)
  • 15. The Romance with Resistance: The Instrumentalisation of Narratives of Resistance at Museums of the German Democratic Republic, Michaela Dixon (University of Manchester)
  • 16. The GDR as a model: An exhibition concept, Susanne Wernsing (Vienna)
  • 17. A new model for Dark Tourism?, Doreen Pastor (University of Bristol)

17.00-18.00 Concluding remarks