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GLL Colloquium - John Slattery, PhD Candidate: "The Light/Fading Light of Hope for Utopia"

Event Type
Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures
Room 2090B Foreign Languages Building (2nd floor office area, near 2nd floor mailroom)
Mar 5, 2019   5:30 - 6:30 pm  
John Slattery, PhD Candiate, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures
Free and open to the public.
Originating Calendar
School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics Calendar

Abstract: Numerous sunsets are present in Christa Wolf’s Der geteilte Himmel (1963) and Eugen Ruge’s In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts (2011). Wolf’s narrator describes the protagonist Rita after her final farewell to Manfred under the twilit skies of a setting sun; with a western sky still full of fading light and an eastern sky not yet completely dark. The narrator’s convolution of which direction is brighter can also be seen in the critiques of both capitalism and socialism throughout the novel.

In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts is the multi-generational story of a communist family and their gradual fading of hope for a communist utopia throughout and after the existence of the GDR. The protagonist, Alexander, travels to Mexico in 2001. What starts out with music and tourism turns into a critique of class differences in capitalist Mexico. The theme of sunsets is ubiquitous throughout the novel.


This talk examines sunsets and their ties to a critique of capitalism and socialism, as well as utopian hope. By allowing these themes to oscillate with each other, this paper interprets the texts’ respective messages  about utopia.

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