Send the link below via email or IMCopy
Present to your audienceStart remote presentation
- Invited audience members will follow you as you navigate and present
- People invited to a presentation do not need a Prezi account
- This link expires 10 minutes after you close the presentation
- A maximum of 30 users can follow your presentation
- Learn more about this feature in our knowledge base article
Transcript of Stasiland
The Nature of Truth
Outcome 1 - Text Response
Post War - Germany
Alternative Writing Style
Fiction or Non Fiction?
Beatrix Potter's 'Peter Rabbit'
Ostalgie is a term used to refer to nostalgia for the former East Germany. It is derived from the term "Ost" (East in German) and "Nostalgie" (Nostalgia).
The Fall of The Wall
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 in conjunction with the reunification that followed one year later saw many symbols of the German Democratic Republic swept away.
Many GDR brands disappeared from the stores and were replaced by Western products. Over time the East Germans came to feel nostalgia for particular aspects of their lives in East Germany, their culture and their way of living.
Ostalgie in Stasiland
Pages 70 & 74
"'I conformed, just like everybody else. But it's not true to say the GDR was a nation of seventeen million informers. There were only two in a hundred... You know, there's no real unity in this country, even after seven years. I don't feel like I belong here at all. Did you know that in the suburb of Kreuzberg in West Berlin they wanted the Wall back! To protect them from us!... Can you understand this German thinking?'"
Member of the Insiderkomitee; a secret society of Stasi men who write papers detailing their side of history;
Argues for the "beauties of socialist theories" which were present in the GDR.
Celebrate the Stasi, having "people everywhere!... We had them very high up! We had Gunter Guillaume as Chancellor Brandt's secretary..."
Dismissed the Capitalist ideology by comparing it to the Communist ideology of East Germany, "In the GDR you could go out alone at night as a woman! You could leave your apartment door open!"
His intense hatred of Capitalism is complementary to his devotion to the Socialist regime. He is nostalgic about the GDR lifestyle, and is "waiting for the Second Coming of Socialism"
The Cleaning Lady
Pages 90 & 97
Julia believed in the East as an alternative to the West and wrote to her many penpals to explain life in the GDR and get a sense of life in their countries; Algeria, Soviet Union and India.
"Right now she is black, red and yellow, uncharacteristically patriotic in the colours of the German flag"
"There were no drunks before the Wall came down... No-one was homeless as they are now"
"'I wanted to explain to people overseas about the GDR- That Communism was not such a bad system...We watched a lot of western television and I knew about unemployment , about homelessness, about hard drugs. And prostitution- prostitution! I mean how is it people think they can just buy a person? That was incredible to me.' She doesn't seem bitter about her belief in the GDR now. She seems, somehow, nostalgic"
Ostalgie in Stasiland
All content comes directly from these references:
Emily Chapman 'Untitled' Prezi
The Beginning of Communism
1848 - German philosophers, Marx and Engels, publish their groundbreaking political text 'The Communist Manifesto' in Britain during the Industrial Revolution. It was published in German.
During World War I, Russia, who was an ally of Britain and France, became caught up in a Revolution. Russia consequently withdrew from the war.
Communists took charge of the country during two separate uprisings during 1917, overthrowing the autocratic rule of the Tzar.
The country then became enveloped in a brutal civil war.
In the aftermath of both wars what was left of Russia became the USSR (Soviet Union)
World War 2
World War 1
Section 231, the War Guilt Clause, held Germany totally responsible for the war. Following on from this, Section 232 laid out that Germany would pay the victors compensation for loss and damage sustained throughout the war totalling approximately 132 million gold marks. Land was taken from Germany and handed over to neighbouring countries including France, Belgium and Poland. Germany was forced to reduce the size of their army to 100,000 men and were not allowed to have tanks or an airforce, although they could keep some of their navy
In the wake of the Versailles Treaty, all of Germany suffered extensive humiliation.
The Great Depression also descended on many countries in the years between the two wars.
Both of these factors aided in the rise of Nazism in Germany and contributed to the outbreak of WWII just over twenty years after the end of WWI.
The Treaty of Versailles
Rise of Nazism
Potsdam Conference (1945) How Germany fared this time
It was all about demilitarisation, denazification, democratisation, decentralisation and decartelization (development of a free-market economy). Again their capacity to fight another war was impacted by destroying controlling German industries that had the potential to build military equipment like plane or ships. Territories were moved around again. Germany was divided up into four main occupation zones (Britain, France, USA and USSR). Berlin was similarly divided. Germany was divided in two - a democratic West and a communist East.
The Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall and the Cold War
The Cold War intensified as the end of the War in the Pacific against Japan drew near. America was concerned that if the Soviets liberated Japan, then communism would spread through Asia as well as Europe.
In 1946, former British PM Winston Churchill, in a speech made in Westminster College, Missouri, uttered the following words:
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an
has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw,
, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must
, and all are
subject in one form or another,
not only to
to a very high and, in many cases,
increasing measure of control
After what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Soviets developed their own nuclear weapons and so began the nuclear arms race.
The Lives of Others
"There were parts of it that were fun though.../ I think I had the only job in the word where I got to go into a warehouse each morning and decide "who will I be today?" I got to choose a disguise. Sometimes I'd be a park ranger, sometimes a garbage collector... I really liked being a western tourist because the clothes were much better quality-real leather gloves- and I got to drive a Mercedes, or at least a VW Golf."
"...then I'd say, "Night all," to the others listening in. I meant it as a joke. I didn't let myself really think about whether there was another person on the line. It was a condition of sanity both to accept "GDR-logic" and to ignore it."
"East Germans separated themselves from Nazism. East and West Germany had an equally hard time addressing the National Socialist path. Both sides used different strategies of avoidance. The West were silent and buried themselves with the uprising of the industrial revolution. The East Germans saw themselves as the better Germany because they were beating the Nazi Party by fighting against the West. These different views created conflict even after reunification in 1990"- Dr Mueller.
"Like so many things, no-one can decide whether to make the Palast der Republik into a memorial warning from the past, or to get rid of it altogether and go into the future unburdened of everything, except the risk of doing it all again."
(pg 51 Funder)
Rica Buettner 'East Germany' Prezi
Though Stasiland itself is not a novel, and has been described as a piece of 'Narrative Journalism', it reads much like one, through Funder's use of...
learning German - so beautiful, so strange - at school in Australia on the other side of the earth.
was nonplussed about me learning such an odd, ugly language and, though of course too sophisticated to say it, the language of the enemy.
the sticklebrick nature of it, building long supple words by putting short ones together.
To inform, educate, expose, recount.
Journalistic writing style -
Much like an Autobiography...
First Person Central Narrator – ‘the I narrator’;
Funder is the centre, the focus of the story. We must rely on her perceptions. She has placed herself central and foremost in the story, despite her role as a mere
observer to events that have already transpired.
But just how reliable is she..?
Funder, by writing in such style, has forced us to trust her, to take her word as law. How reliable can she be? Who is to say she has not added elements to her text for mere effect, such as parts of Miriam’s attempted escape from East Germany. Perhaps she only made it over the first 'wire-mesh' fence?
Chapter 3 - Bornholmer Bridge
At Bornholmer Bridge, the border ran, in theory, along the space between the tracks...
'I had a look at the lie of the land and decided: not too bad.' Miriam could see the border installation, the cacophony of wire and cement, asphalt and sand. In front of where it began was a hectare or so of fenced-in garden plots, each with its own little shed.
How do we know this is what Miriam saw?
'It was dark and I was lucky - later I learned they usually patrolled the gardens well.'
Between her and the west there was a wire-mesh fence, a patrol strip, a barbed-wire fence, a twenty-metre-wide asphalt street for the personnel carriers and a footpath.
‘She may not be worthy of our trust, but she is all we have’. Pg 202
Writer in residence at Potsdam University at the time of writing
Completed studies at University of Melbourne and at UTS
Winner of the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize
Secret police of the former GDR
Trained spies as well as untrained civilian informers
Stasi stands for Staatssicherheit (
Motto: Schild und Schwert der Partei (
Shield and Sword of the Party
"Its job was to know everything about everyone, using any means it chose. It knew who your visitors were, it knew whom you telephoned, and it knew if your wife slept around." Pg5
Point Of View
97, 000 employees.
One Stasi for every
The GDR had an inexorable psychological grip on its people and when the wall came down, the nation collapsed and the population were left in a daze.
"Everyone suspected everyone else and the mistrust this bred was the foundation of social existence." pg 28
"Memory, like so much else, is unreliable. Not only for what it hides and what it alters, but also for what it reveals." Page 216
"Can you rework your past, the grit that rubs in you, until it is shiny and smooth as a pearl?" Page 157
"Why are some things easier to remember the more time has passed since they occurred?" Page 14
"The picture she has of herself is the one Stasi made for her." Page 229
"Now we can't even sleep here anymore or we'd get robbed. It's terrible morals these days." Pg251
"In a security state, after all, the least the authorities could do when they were incarcerating so many innocents was to clean up the criminals at the same time." Pg251
The Stasi Were People Too
"'I live,' he says fiercely, 'among the enemy.'" pg135
"I don't often reveal myself to people" pg86
"We are discriminated and ripped off blind from one minute to another in this Kapitalismus." pg175
"I've fallen between two stools, you might say." pg243
Natalie James 'Stasiland' Prezi
Callum van den Enden 'Stasiland - Anna Funder' Prezi
Luke Herring 'The Cold War' Prezi
S Shatek 'Untitled' Prezi
Fiction: literature in the form of prose that describes imaginary events and people.
Non-fiction: prose writing that is based on facts, real events, and real people, such as biography or history.
Where do we draw the line?
Why is Stasiland Non-Fiction?
Funder uses a number of techniques that are typical of non-fiction works, such as:
Funder makes reference to, and includes in her book, various historical documents to support her story. These are factual documents, and therefore enforce the non-fictional elements of the book.
Supports Funder's purpose in telling the effects of the Stasi and the Berlin Wall on citizens
"Signals for observation...” pg 7
"The Black Chanel, my dear ladies and gentlemen, caries filth and sewerage...And every Monday at this time, we are going to devote ourselves to, as you might say, a hygiene operation" pg 124
Funder also uses factual information embedded in the narrative to create a sense of authenticity.
"Protests began. On September 4 1990 campaigners occupied the lobby here, and a week later they began a hunger strike" pg 70
This creates a certain credibility, and gives the book a more factual tone.
“The majorities stretched credibility: 98 per cent; 95.4 per cent; 97.6 per cent.” pg 162
Funder quotes directly from her interviewees, which creates credibility in her writing, and makes it seem more realistic, for example:
"Hagen Koch nearly swallows the words. 'Four days later,' he says, 'this photo was taken.'" pg 168
"Julia wasn't daunted. 'I'm seeking work,' she said, 'because I am unemployed.'" pg 104
The quotes are taken directly from the source, which makes this aspect of the novel non-fictional.
The other major symbol of the Cold War was the Berlin Wall. Because it divided one city into two systems of government, it was the focus of much of the Cold War propaganda.
It was initially a barbed-wire fence.
However, due to an increasing amount of people seeking to escape from Communist Berlin into democratic West Berlin, the communists erected a wall through the city, effectively restricting the movements of East Berliners. It was patrolled by armed guards and had turrets and trenches to prevent escapes.
It stemmed the flow of escapes, and people were forced to become more creative in their escape plans.
The Wall was destroyed in 1990
Funder uses a number of techniques to develop a work with strongly biased implicit messages, such as:
How does authorial bias undermine
the factual nature of the book?
The strong presence of Funder's personal comments on the situation creates bias.
Statements like the above are biased. This is not representative of the genre of non-fiction, which is, in definition, objective.
"I know this argument as well: if you didn't buck the system, then it wouldn't harm you. But, from what I have seen, it probably would" pg 252
"After she died, grief came down on me like a cage." pg 244
Funder's use of repetitive syntax, and listing in the book creates a bias and an incredulous tone. This supports Funder's purpose of revealing the devastating effects of the Stasi on former East Germany
Overall, these quotes show how Funder creates a biased retelling of events - is this really history if it is biased?
Syntax & Repetition
“For the Stasi, it was beyond comprehension that a sixteen-year-old with no tools, no training, and no help, could crawl across their ‘Anti-Fascist Protective Measure’ on her hands and knees” pg 25
The book is structured as a novel: it is divided into distinct chapters which are all named accordingly; it is written in paragraph style, with no photographs or factual information other than textual information included. "
These chapter titles read like a novel, and the use of puns and sarcasm create unnecessary bias.
"Julia has no story" Chapter 9
"Drawing the line" Chapter 17
"Von Schni-" Chapter 13
“Apparently, even in the GDR, sleep deprivation amounted to torture, and torture, at least of minors, was not official policy” pg 29
Can history be without bias?
Does all history have a certain bias?
She is a journalist, not a historian.
It's all reported from a certain perspective, in a certain context and therefore, essentially there is always some sort of bias.
Even so, what kind of authority does Funder have on this topic?
Watch Former Stasi Agents Defend Their Deeds
Germans miss the 'good old days' of the GDR
Anna Funder in Conversation
Privacy and the State
View from the West Berlin side of graffiti art on the wall in 1986, and the infamous 'death strip' on the east side
The importance of memory
Moral courage and heroism
Deception, duplicity and lies
Nature of humankind's barbarity
Surveillance State and Control
Power of the written word
Dangers of nostalgia
Anna Funder - Daily life under communism
Ruth Thomas 'Insight Text Guide: Stasiland' Textbook
...and George Orwell's
which epitomises the idea of an Orwellian Surveillance State
i.e. 'Big Brother is watching you'
Matt Young 'Anna Funder: An Australian Perspective on German History' Online Article
“People were dancing on the Berlin wall, smashing it with hammers, pouring through in thousands with looks of sheer joy and disbelief.”
Dan Katz 'Adventures n Stasiland' Online Review from Workers Liberty
There are 3 Anna's
* Funder's voice :
1st Person Active
3rd Person Omniscient Voice
characters to voice their story.
– A sense of nostalgia for the way things were in East Germany.
Mauer im Kopf
– the sense of there still being a metaphorical wall in your mind that separates you from fully letting go of the past or embracing unified Germany. Not because you don’t want to – but because of the psychological damage inflicted during divided Germany.
– Unification of Germany.
– the process of coming to terms with the shame of the past.
German Terms in Stasiland
Words to describe the regime and the treatment of the individuals
A society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.
The different kinds of
memory is both personal and collective
memory is political
memory is malleable
...and also the central ideas of
" Memory like so much else, is unreliable. Not only for what it hides and what it alters, but also what it reveals." (p216)
trust in the state
trust in others
trust in ones capabilities
* who were the true victims of the regime and why?
* who were the perpetrators?
* who were both?
Some Themes and Ideas we will focus on are...
Luscombe English 2014 Blog (http://lusco2014.blogspot.com.au/)
* Focus on HUMAN RESPONSE
* Focus on not only the WHAT but the HOW.... (conceptual and construction)
eg WHAT has Funder written - themes/characters/ideas
BUT also the
HOW: setting, time, place, narrator, voice, imagery
*The Wall is capitalised into a Proper Noun to magnify its importance and establish it as an active participant in the narrative.
For more detailed overview of key ideas in Stasiland go to:
(Topics covered: power of the state, informers, enemies, victims, physical consequences, psychological problems, escape, and small triumphs)
Read the "Structure, language and style" section of this document to help consolidate your comprehension.
Her writing is:
6) colour usage
8) character description
9) language lexicon/vernacular (German)
10) anaphora and tetracolon
12) literary allusions (popular culture)
When Funder is writing in 3rd person evidentially, she uses the following references:
* newspaper advertisements
* use of figures
* personal testimony
* expert opinion
* reference to photographs
* historical referencing
Some helpful links on setting, characterisation and narrator :)
Also, think about the humour, irony, puns and sarcasm she utilises
Funder is an
George Orwell's '1984'...
Minister for State Security, Enrich Mielke, in a particularly Queen of Hearts-esque moment: ‘All this blithering about to
execute or not to
And, when necessary,
without a court
The infamous portraits of Enrich Honecker, the long-serving Head of State, evoke a sense of his Cheshire cat-like grin.
The book opens with
descending the stairs of
underground train station –
making her way
down the rabbit hole .
1. Berlin, Winter 1996
3. Bornholmer Bridge
5. The Linoleum Palace
6. Stasi HQ
7. The Smell of Old Men
8. Telephone Calls
9. Julia Has No Story
10. The Italian Boyfriend
11. Major N
12. The Lipsi
13. Von Schni--
14. The Worse You Feel
15. Herr Christian
16. Socialist Man
17. Drawing the Line
18. The Plate
20. Herr Bock of Golm
21. Frau Paul
22. The Deal
24. Herr Bohnsack
25. Berlin, Spring 2000
26. The Wall
28. Miriam and Charlie
For a summary of each chapter go to http://mentone12lit.wordpress.com/ and download the
Stasiland Revision PowerPoint
For more details on Structure, Language and Style read page 7 - 9 of
For more details on
key characters go to: http://mswhiteyear12english.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/goggle-doc-chracter-overview.pdf
Mrs White's Year 12 ENglish blog : 'Setting' Powerpoint http://mswhiteyear12english.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/stasiland-pp.pdf
Funder’s description of places and settings provide a parallel with the personal narratives in Stasiland.
‘East Germany still felt like a secret walled-in garden, a place lost in time.’
‘Tomorrow bruises will develop on my
skin, like a picture from a negative.’
The use of similes and metaphors
are woven throughout this text.
What do you think Funder is
suggesting by this statement?
'I sit on a green bench. I look at green tiles, breathe green air. Suddenly I don’t feel so good.'
‘At ground level Alexanderplatzis a monstrous
expanse of grey concrete designed to make
people feel small. It works.’
'It is a country that no longer exists, but here I am on a train hurtling through it – it’s tumbledown houses and bewildered people. The feeling needs a sticklebrick word: I can only describe it as horror-romance'
'I inhabit the grey end of the spectrum: grey buildings, grey earth, grey birds, grey trees. Outside, the city and then the
country spool past in black and white.'
'East Germany has disappeared, but its remains are still at the site.'
‘The Runden Ecke was huge. A set of stairs led up to the vast metal-clad double doors with studs on them. I shrank like Alice.’
The title of this text 'Stasiland', is an allusion to the ridiculous illogicality of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland'. As Anna tumbles down her rabbit hole she discovers ‘a land gone wrong’: she is trying to suggest the idea that East Germany was like another world, one that had different and strange rules that only they seemed to understand. Countless allusions to this text are used to amplify this sense of ‘madness’.
‘Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day. ‘No, No!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards.’ – Lewis Carroll
“I’ve been having Adventures in Stasiland. I’ve been in a place where what was said was not real, and what was real was not allowed, where people disappeared behind doors and were never heard from again, or were smuggled into other realms.” (p.120)
Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland'
Why did Funder leave
BERLIN, SPRING 2000
‘Next door a new museum has been inserted into the old landscape: The Contemporary History Forum Leipzig. This, it turns out, is the federally funded effort to put history of the separation of Germany behind glass.’ (p.271)
‘It’s more authentic: here in this building where people were held and interrogated, and where upstairs, their stolen biographies were filed away.’ (p.272)
‘I am annoyed that this past can look
so tawdry and so safe, as if destined
from the outset to end up behind
glass, securely roped off and under
press button control. Isn’t a museum
the place for things that are over?’
‘Outside it is hot; since morning
the trees have deepened their
green, and are making darker
shadows. I have nothing more to do here but wander back to the station.’
Note Funder’s authorial tone becomes different.
- Just like Berlin, her apartment appears to be a mismatch of furnishings with a décor that is grey, brown, beige, bland and broken.
- Kalus reveals to Funder how looks can be deceiving...
- How does Germany try to deal with rebuilding its past?
– chapter 2 – Why top floor?
– chapter 5
Funder’s description of
places and settings provide a parallel with the personal narratives in Stasiland.
YOUR TURN TO WRITE…
Write a body paragraph:
Berlin – Funder’s perception of it being a ‘Land gone wrong’.
Alexanderplatz Station - claustrophobic
Funder’s apartment – parallels Berlin; Funder’s state of being; Julia’s idiosyncratic behaviour
Museums – contrast the old with the new
Contrast Funder’s observations of Berlin from 1996 to her return in 2000.
Hohenschonhausen - Linoleum corridors, claustrophobic cells, 120 rooms available for interrogations
The honeycombed cells of the ex-Stasi…
‘Brown patterned wallpaper reaching halfway up the walls’
‘The smell of misery’
‘That room was where a deal was offered and refused, and a soul buckled out of shape, forever.’
To look for 'some of the stories from this land gone wrong' (p.9).
'I'm looking for people who
confronted the Regime as much as those who represented it' pg71
'I’m making portraits of people, East Germans, of whom there will be none left in a generation. This is working against forgetting, and against time.'
from behind the iron curtain
East Germany was divided into 217 districts, and the Stasi had an office in every one. (ref: 'The Firm')
During World War II, Russia, Britain and the US were allied against the Germans. The U.S. and Brits attacked Germany from the West and South, and the Russians attacked from the East. It was the Russians who finally took Berlin, leading to Hitler's suicide and Germany's surrender.
One of the reasons America chose to use nuclear weapons on Japan was not only to force their surrender, but to send a clear message to the Soviets regarding America's power.
The Cold War had very little actual conflict, it was more a war of ideal, and propaganda was one of the main weapons.
The propaganda was based on military capabilities, sport, the space race and the arts.
Both nations relied heavily on espionage.
As well as having nostalgia for everyday life, 'Ostalgie' was also inspired by the absence of unemployment and poverty in the GDR. Ostalgie could be inspired by the longing of the former East Germans for the preferred social system and the sense of community that was prevalent under the GDR. Renowned West-German magazine Der Spiegel asked past GDR-citizens whether the GDR "was the better state" (compared to the ruling of West Germany), 57% of them answered yes.
Another form of Ostalgie
“Who would have thought that a wall could be built!” she says. “That was also impossible! And who would have thought at the end that it might ever fall! That was also impossible!”
What is Ostalgie?
Ostalgie particularly refers to the nostalgia for aspects of regular daily life and culture in the former GDR (German Democratic Republic), which disappeared after reunification, following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Ballade vom kleinen Otto
Die werden Ketten knapper
Sweet Child in Time - Klaus Renft Combo 2006
Instead of referring to individuals
as characters (this is non-fiction) try:
• An innocent
• Just use their name
• Use Funder’s words:
"The most hated face"
"East German bad boy of
rock and roll”
in the past
LIVE IN PEACE
DIE FOR WALLSTREET
GDR Propaganda Poster 1949
Example of the actions of the Insiderkomitee.
Funder presented the testimony given to the descriptions of GDR citizens who had
fallen in the mills of the system. This has created a long-distance romantic -sounding way of nonfiction about life lies and betrayal, about resistance and inhumanity.
The " Society for the Protection of Civil Rights and Human Dignity eV " (GBM ), an umbrella organization for associations of former Stasi and Army member who procured shortly after the book was published a preliminary injunction ; the delivery was stopped. This was due to controversial stories about the handling of the GBM with critics .
Now appears " Stasi Land" in the new Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag - but without the offending passages . At the same time Anna Funder traveling for a week with an Australian camera crew by Germany that wants to make a film about it and old Stasi squad . One of the locations was the memorial at the former Stasi prison in Berlin- Hohenschonhausen . Lars -Broder wedge spoke with Anna Funder .
THE WORLD : Woman Funder , recently signboards were put up in the vicinity of the memorial Hohenschonhausen that point to the earlier events at this location . It was preceded by massive protests of former Stasi members . How do you evaluate their occurrence ?
Anna Funder : I have just learned of it during my stay in Germany . Obviously these people have received a boost. One reason is surely that there were few court convictions and they can claim that their action was not unlawful and therefore was
not a crime. It lacks these people any wrongdoing .
* This has been translated from a German publication:
Prisoner: Cell Block H
Australian TV series from the 1980s
Intertextual references are when authors refer to other well-known texts within their own works. The idea is that readers are always influenced by other texts, sifting through their memory, when reading a new one, and authors use deliberate intertextual references – or allusions – to other texts to tap into this.
‘Intertextuality’ is a theory that people can use to critique a text (like marxism, femism and post-colonialism), so the definition for what counts as ‘intertextuality’ is debatable. Basically it can refer to the author using the broad themes and ideas from one text in their own i.e. the movie ‘Clueless’ and its use of Jane Austin’s novel ‘Emma’. It can also mean the direct quotation of another text i.e. Taylor Swifts reference to Romeo in her song ‘Love Story’. The term ‘allusions’ (in a literary sense) also has the same basic meaning – the author ‘alludes’ to another text either explicitly or implicitly.
‘Intertextual references’ ‘intertextual allusions’ or ‘allusions’
What are they?
• In most cases writers make allusions because of the many emotions or ideas that readers may associate with the works to which the writer alludes.
• Let their audience understand new information, characters, plot, setting etc. by connecting it to something already familiar
• when writers borrow from previous texts, their work acquires layers of meaning.
• when a text is read in the light of another text, all the assumptions and effects of the other text give a new meaning to the original text.
• it might communicate what the writer wants to say better than he could have himself.
• It can create comic effect (think ‘Family Guy’ and ‘The Simpsons’)
• Allusions can help set the tone/mood for an episode.
• It can make a reading experience filled with challenges and puzzles that can only be solved with a great deal of research and study...
Which can also be a disadvantage…
• In order to understand intertextual references, or allusions, the reader needs to be familiar with a range of ‘well-known’ works or they:
o Won’t notice the reference or...
o Notice the reference but don’t understand what the author is implying
• Audiences may be narrowed down or excluded by the intertextual choices the author makes (i.e. middle-class white Australians)
• An author who relies on intertextual references to impart meaning risks confusing any audience member who is not familiar with the allusion. An individual who does not understand most of the references might find the reading to be completely incomprehensible.
• A non-fiction text that makes intertextual references to fictional texts risks discrediting itself, as the audience is left questioning whether the real story has been changed to ‘fit the mould’ of the fictional comparison.
• What does the writer want me to understand about this character, setting, plot, etc by connecting it to something which I am already familiar?
When you recognise an intertextual reference, ask yourself this:
It's not a new comparison, many – including Erich Meilke himself apparently – recognised the similarities between the Stasi Surveillance state and the dystopian fear and obscene state control of Orwell's futuristic novel. Allusions to Orwell are especially noticeable when Funder is talking about the extreme lengths the Stasi to control the GDR citizens (especially psychologically) i.e. Klaus’ band ‘no longer exists’ - this is a direct parallel to an episode in ‘1984’
She also refers to Orwell’s novel ‘Animal Farm’ in Miriam’s apartment which is a satire that supports the idea of communism but is brutal in its criticism of Russia. This was a book that was banned in both Western and Eastern countries at some stages, and her ownership of the book is a symbol of rebellion.
There is the comparison between Miriam and Peter Rabbit when Funder is describing her escape attempt over the wall. Funder is trying to evoke feelings of sweetness, innocence and cheekiness that the audience feels when thinking of Peter rabbit in an attempt to try and get the audience to feel those same responses when thinking of Miriam. Funder is also using this story as a way of playing with our expectations – Peter escapes from the mean Mr McGreggor, Miriam does not. She is trying to explain that the reality was much more brutal than the fairy tale.
For many in her audience, their only experience with prison from watching television shows like this. Funder is trying to tap into these preconceptions and break them. Again, she is trying to explain that the reality was much more brutal than the fictional dramatised world.
"I can't stay focused on the awfulness of it all, and my mind wanders, disobediently, to sitcoms. I think of the old TV series 'Prisoner', set in a women's prison: clanging metal gates before each ad break and a kindly lesbian in the laundry, steaming away."
"I want the benevolent prison governess of TV land to have existed, I want the lesbian with the heart of gold to have protected the little girl, and I think of what is still to come."