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Valentina Di Rosa (L'Orientale University of Naples)

Valentina Di Rosa

Valentina Di Rosa
Image Credit: Héloïse Faure

Fellow in Research Area 4: "Literary Currencies"

June – July 2021

Traditions in progress: (Post-)GDR poetry in the ‘German-German’ Literary Field

This research project deals with the reception of GDR experimental poetry since the 1980s, especially during the years of the Wende and the transitional period of the 1990s. The starting point is the underground milieu of younger and less younger poets who, after Wolf Biermann's forced expatriation in 1976, sought to create a counter-public sphere (Gegenöffentlichkeit), by establishing continuity with both the historical avant-gardes and the cultural codes imported from the world beyond the Wall.

The project aims at reframing the impact of these new languages in the changed context of the 1990s, when a newly formed ‘German-German’ literary field became a contested territory of divided memories and conflicting values. The ‘newcomers’ had to negotiate their East German identities, coming to terms with the aesthetic and ideological categories of judgment sanctioned by the dominant West German culture. 

The project will trace the strategies through which most GDR poets began to relocate themselves and their works in the hybrid context of the reunified nation, testing the ground for a self-reflective re-appropriation of their ‘subjective authenticity’ and, in so doing, reviving the cultural legacy of the GDR. 

Accordingly, the research will include interviews with some of the former protagonists of the unofficial GDR scene as well as a critical reappraisal of the historiographical category of 'post-GDR-Literature', to evaluate its scientific currency more than thirty years after the official collapse of the socialist state. These trajectories will lead not least to focus on the prestige of key voices of the contemporary canon – poets as varied in style and gesture as Elke Erb, Durs Grünbein, Lutz Seiler, Uljana Wolf – whose cultural background was mostly shaped during the years spent in the GDR.

Valentina Di Rosa is a Professor of Modern and Contemporary German Literature as well as of Theory and Practice of Literary Translation at L'Orientale University of Naples. She is a Founding Director of the Literary Laboratory "scrittureletturetedesche" and Scientific Curator of the homonym series of Poetics Lectures established at L'Orientale University in cooperation with Goethe-Institut, Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici, and Literarisches Colloquium Berlin.

Her main research focuses include Early Expressionism and Artist Colonies around 1900; German-Jewish Culture of the Early 20th Century; Exile Literature; East German Literature before and after 1989; Experimental Poetry of the 21th Century; Contemporary Translation Theories.

Among her most recent publications are Im Gegenwind, in: J. Kasper/ A. Renker / F. Vitali (ed.): Dante vielstimmig übersetzt. Dreißig Mal Guido i’ vorrei, Wien / Berlin 2021 (in print); (ed with G. Sgambati, in print), Oltre il Novecento. Trasformazioni dell'immaginario nella letteratura tedesca contemporanea, Milano, Edizioni Mimesis 2021; (edited with J. Röhnert), Im Hier und Jetzt. Konstellationen der Gegenwart in der deutschsprachigen Literatur seit 2000, Köln Weimar Wien, Böhlau Verlag 2019.

As a literary translator, she has edited selected works of several authors of 20th and 21th century such as Else Lasker-Schüler, Alfred Andersch, Hartmut Lange, Heiner Müller, Anita Pichler, Lutz Seiler. She is currently working on an anthology of poems by Durs Grünbein (Crocetti Editore, Milano 2022).