Dwelling in GDR Literature



In this article I treat the way the GDR authors Günter de Bruyn, Brigitte Reimann, and Christa Wolf reconsidered domesticity and urbanism in key works from the late 1960s. Their reflections on prescriptive Wohnkultur, life in tenement apartments, and the relationship between domesticity and life cycles were responses to new regimes of image circulation and represented alienation in shifting urban environments. In engaging with these processes, these writers linked innovation in literary form to the possibility for critical intervention in debates on the political value of new and inherited spaces of everyday life. Their sophisticated conceptual engagements with social change and reflections on the status of language yielded a literary modernism unique to the GDR, yet with intellectual parallels to critiques of modern architecture, commodity fetishism, and institutionality in the FRG, France, and the United States.