226/1030: Update in work and life 

I’ve been following a blogger (maybe I’ll remember to link him here at a later date) who recently has been posting daily updates of what he accomplished with his dissertation each day. It really is a log of his work in a way that seems more productive than trying to produced polished (barely, if at all) posts each time. I’m probably going to do a mix of what I’ve been doing and what he does.

This new style of logging may become especially productive given the fact that I’ve recently been forced to rent a desk due to a shifting home situation and actually have to commute to work on my dissertation now, which somehow motivates me to get stuff done again. I’ve relocated the stack of articles and notes that have been gathering dust on my desk in the apartment to my new desk. Along with a binder where I’ve already started sorting, a new binder, a hole-puncher (two-hole, as the Germans do), a remote keyboard and my motivation, coffee, tea, and milk, the items I’ve brought have yielded a few hours of work and some organization of old material.

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While I have a serious problem to tackle with the large amount of stuff I’ve read and haven’t annotated or organized properly (and the task seems very daunting), I somehow manage to just keep adding new material. But I think if I can have the discipline to start annotating and organizing those right away, I may slowly see a way through the morass.

Most recently, I attended a conference about discourse in public places and the search for resonance, and I selectively attended the one presentation where Bakhtin, my favorite Russian theorist, was the focal point along with Yoko Tawada, Habermas, and a few others. The main takeaway from that session was that a) Tawada would be a productive author to look at for “voice,” b) the difference between voice and Bakhtin’s “utterance” may be found in the body/language discussion, and I’m a Bakhtin pro, or at least more than the academic laymen (this is not to be confused with actually being an expert- I just know more than the basic understanding of his theories, if there even is such a thing). This realization of my position in the academic world is further validated by acceptance into a prestigious research school and the award of a scholarship.

That’s right, the biggest news for my dissertation work is that I’m soon going to be paid more for working on my dissertation than I got paid working a part-time “real” job. Not only do I have 20 hours more a week to work on my diss, but I have more resources with which to do the work (and party afterwards). Work hard, play hard. Life is pretty sweet.

While I am writing this on day 227, I plan to post somehting else today as well, so it’s filling in for the 226th day that I missed .

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124/1030: a new generation of German literature 

Let’s just ignore the fact that I took a 50 day vacation and do feel guilty about it. Apparently, I also wanted to have my literature review and draft of the introduction done by March. So far, that is not happening. On the other hand, it’s not too late to make it happen.

Today, I want to write a little bit more about contemporary German literature. There is a trend, beginning in the 2010s of prominent publishing houses supporting a new generation of writers with migrant background.  I would say that writers such as Zafer Senocak, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Feridun Zaimoglu and Yoko Tawada mark the first generation, opening the definition of German literature to those without migrant background. However, in light of the post-Soviet border crises and ethnic tensions, as well as revolutions throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East, one could say that contemporary German literature reflects refugee paths and causes. Of course, this is distinct from the 1930s and 40s when Germany was the land of departures, not the destination. Of this new generation, one can consider Olga Grjasnowa, Abbas Khider, Saša Stanišić, and Senthuran Varatharajah as representatives of writers who produce content for a society that should open its eyes to its new members and who benefit from a society that wants to satisfy its questions and concerns. 

I make the last note  with a slightly veiled criticism that these writers are “priviledged” to represent vast numbers of asylum seekers and migrants to Germany and their stories are often taken as the truth of what the person with migrant backrogund experiences in Germany, and one must remember that these experiences on and off the page are hugely varied and individual. Still, their writings are interesting and help describe the new multicultural and multiethnic space of Germany. 

I will have to explain that last note in more detail, and hope to do so in the coming days. I just needed a way to get back on track. 

Some things I did do that were productive for my PhD since last posting: applied for another scholarship, read Vor der Zunahme der Zeichen, started reading NW, began working through Irina Rajewsky’s book on Intermediality, a book called History, Memory and Migration, and one on intercultural literarture. So, I haven’t been totally lazy, but it’s time to get back on track. 

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2017 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality.