Georgetown Professor Examines Rhetoric of Radical Politics in West Germany in the 1970s
Washington, DC -- Friederike Eigler, professor of German and chair of the German Department at Georgetown University, presented her paper “Dehistorization of Political Violence? ‘Das Rote Jahrzehnt’ in auto/biographical accounts by Stephan Wackwitz and Gerd Koenen” at this year’s Modern Language Association annual Convention in Chicago. Her paper focuses on the ways in which two Ex-68ers—Gert Koenen and Stephan Wackwitz—revisit the larger social, political, and discursive context of the 1970s.
In her paper, Eigler discusses how German authors Koenen and Wackwitz examine the ‘rhetoric of violence’ that pervaded the student protest movements of the late 1960s, and the numerous leftist/Marxist groups that emerged in the 1970s. “Looking back at this period,” she writes, “they seek to understand why violence became widely acceptable--at least in theory--as a legitimate means not only of resisting but also of provoking state sanctioned violence.”
“These accounts – fascinating hybrids of historiography, autobiography, and critical analysis – challenge and provoke readers who hold deep-seated sympathies with the political activism of the 1970s,” writes Eigler. “Yet the accounts by Koenen and Wackwitz alone are insufficient for providing ‘uninitiated’ readers, especially younger readers (accustomed to the rhetoric of the ‘war against terrorism’), with a comprehensive historical understanding of radical politics in West Germany of the 1970s.”
About the Modern Language Association
The Modern Language Association, the largest and one of the oldest American learned societies in the humanities (est. 1883), promotes the advancement of literary and linguistic studies. The 30,000 members of the association come from all fifty states and the District of Columbia, as well as from Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. PMLA, the association’s journal of literary scholarship, has published distinguished scholarly articles for over one hundred years. Approximately 9,500 members of the MLA and its allied and affiliate organizations attend the association’s annual convention each December. The MLA is a constituent of the American Council of Learned Societies and the International Federation for Modern Languages and Literatures.
About Georgetown University
Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in America, founded in 1789 by Archbishop John Carroll. Georgetown today is a major student-centered, international, research university offering respected undergraduate, graduate and professional programs on its three campuses in Washington, DC. For more information about Georgetown University, visit www.georgetown.edu.
Eigler presented her paper on Saturday, December 29, 2007 as part of panel 433. The RAF (Red Army Faction) in Literature and Autobiography.