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Tell all the Truth but tell it slant –

Success in Circuit lies1

- Emily Dickinson

Even two decades after unification, current discussions of a lingering division between East and West Germans elicit doubts that Germany’s ongoing economic success provides an elixir against social alienation2. This article compares several works by two younger writers, Julia Schoch and Antje Strubel (both b. 1974), who transcribe elements of daily life as it is experienced from within this ongoing social alienation and who reference a feminist critique of power. Their works evidence what I label a residue from the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). This GDR residue comprises oblique references from or about the GDR brought into a contemporary (post-1990) setting and assesses reunified Germany from an under-represented perspective—that of former East Germans. Each writer experienced a historically unique situation: a childhood in the structured socialization of the GDR; a coming-of-age during the unparalleled socio-political changes of the Wende and re-unification; and a young adulthood of potential, positioned within the unfamiliar, consumer-centered society of reunified Germany. Within this GDR residue each author probes the previous state of control and criticizes power structures in the reunified Federal Republic. Both authors scrutinize contemporary Germany, and their texts trace established themes of love, loss, and power; yet a GDR residue adheres to certain descriptions of experience, place, and socialization. This residue resembles the German meaning of Schmutzfilm or a filmy residue that covers a surface, rather than Schutzfilm or a coating that protects a surface. GDR residue in Schoch and Strubel allows both authors to critique institutions of power and justice —past and present.

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