Uh… what’s that thing one has when others have faith in one to take care of one’s responsibilities and “get the job done”? Oh, yeah- accountability.
Well, that’s something I need to work on (clearly, it’s not even part of my vocabulary).
But here’s an idea of my thesis project and what most of my reading centers around now. That way, I can have an updated “about” page (and still do a lot of “not-reading”). Seriously though, I update this blog to help keep myself accountable for the academic and intellectual activity that should be a part of my lifestyle.
Quick and dirty overview: Our present is marked by a radical split between space and place. Unbound by the physical place we occupy, we have come to travel endless layers of space and the universal condition of people has become one explained by hybridity. People move between virtual and physical worlds, countries, perspectives and radical ideas. And yet the most visible form of hybridity remains immigration. We see how immigration, nomadism, and exilic displacement, and their resulting in-betweeness are crucial to intellectual, spiritual, and artistic development. We are becoming used to our national borders being challenged from within, rather than from without as it had been for much of the formative years of our nations. Immigrants are sources of energy and creativity, “busily redefining” the culture of their accepted homelands (Rushdie). Yet they are also sources of conflict, apathy, or difficulty, failing to accept or become accepted by the world around them. Writers, often with immigrant background, depict these contrasting views of immigrants in ways marked by their own experiences and these experiences define the state of our nations. These novels are also increasingly popular; today, we see more and more authors leave the printers of our national printing presses who expand the bubble of what it means to be a German or an English writer.
Intellectuals and non-intellectuals alike are concerned with the migrant. An act self-understood as nation building since the beginning of travel and immigration has also always simultaneously represented a threat. Yet it is often the intellectuals who successfully articulate the fear and juxtapose it against the positive aspects of migration. Often, these are writers with migrationshintergrund and they are multilingual or exophonic, choosing to write in a language that is not their mother tongue. The language created by the multilingual writer is the closest mirror for the non-bilingual to experience the vibrant and multifaceted existence of a world of migration while continuing to belong to the non-bilingual, non-immigrant. This is possible because the writer is part of the same world.
Thesis task: to determine how writers with different kinds of immigrant background explore the relationship between language, identity and the world during the contemporary postmodernist movement in Europe. This includes determining how the writer creates a world that is filled with the many voices of his or her existence. Ultimately, this thesis will provide some answers for the following questions: What does Migrationshintergrund mean? What causes us to leave our “homeland?” In what ways do Monica Ali and Olga Grjasnowa differently portray the experience of the immigrant? What determines the positive or negative experience of an “exile?” What is exile? What does it actually mean, to “integrate?” Why are these works that ask these questions becoming “bestsellers?”
Plan: for my Master’s Thesis, I intend to complete a comparative literary study of Monica Ali’s Brick Lane and Olga Grjasnowa’s Der Russe ist einer, der Birken liebt in light of Bakhtin’s theories on the novel. My introduction will provide a frame to look at these novels from a Bakhtinian perspective. Then, I will address each book individually, discussing what is unique about them in the broader genre of “exile literature.” To do this, I will focus on the use of “voices.” Finally, I intend to use the comparison of both works to help develop an idea of the differences in literary creation of contemporary second and third-generation migrants.
Theory: I am taking a Cultural Studies, Post-colonial, and Formalist (Russian and U.S. School) approach.
(and, um, I claim all the rights for this text because it’s mine and because I can. no copying without citing, please!)