Sally Hudson '10

Herausforderungen an die deutsche Kulturnation: Literatur, Politik und die Rolle des Intellektuellen um 1990

As a German and Government double major, I sought a theme for my honors project that combined German national identity with its cultural achievements. Especially since World War II, German identity politics and German literature have been closely intertwined. I was particularly interested in the concept of the German Kulturnation (culture nation) as a source of identity around the time of reunification in a historically and territorially complicated national identity. I designed my project with an emphasis on the German unification treaties and publications of German intellectuals around the time of these treaties.

Written in German, my honors project studies the role of the German intellectual as "organizer" of the German Kulturnation in the unification of 1990. The first chapter investigates the German public sphere and the role of the intellectual in that sphere by analyzing writings by the philosophers Immanuel Kant and Jürgen Habermas. Then I look at how contemporary intellectuals came to terms with two themes of German unification - the German-Polish border and the Treuhandanstalt, an organization in charge of privatizing East German firms. With a look at the political realities of the unification treaties and the cultural commentary of intellectuals at this time, I sought to provide a nuanced view of the German Kulturnation and its significance.