Emphasizes the fluid relationship between literature, cinema, and social life


Framed Visions analyzes the pivotal role American mass media and popular culture have played in shaping the political, social, and psychological identity of postwar Germans and Austrians. Through detailed readings of films, novels, plays, and poems of a variety of contemporary artists--including Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders, Elfriede Jelinek, Herbert Achternbusch, Monika Treut, Peter Handke, and Rolf Dieter Brinkmann--Gerd Gemünden reveals the paradoxical stance of this generation toward American politics and Hollywood aesthetics. On the one hand, they are pulled toward a culture that has shaped childhood images, tastes and desires; on the other, they reject American politics and the colonizing effect of its mass culture.
In contrast to most scholarship about the reception of U.S. culture abroad, this study underscores the imaginary relation of contemporary German and Austrian artists to America. Topics such as "Americanization" and "cultural imperialism" are therefore treated not as a foreign principle imposed from the outside but as ways that German and Austrian artists have tried to come to terms with their own problematic culture and history. Gemünden's study elucidates how the culture of the United States has been mapped in contradictory ways onto questions of national and cultural identity in Germany and Austria over the last thirty years.
Gerd Gemünden is Assistant Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Dartmouth College.