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From its creation in 1950, to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the German Democratic Republic's Ministry for State Security closely monitored its nation's citizens. Known as the Staatssicherheit or Stasi, this organization was regarded as one of the most repressive intelligence agencies in the world. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's 2006 film The Lives of Others ( Das Leben der Anderen) has received international acclaim — including an Academy Award, an Independent Spirit Award, and multiple German Film Awards — for its moving portrayal of East German life under the pervasive surveillance of the Stasi.

In Totalitarianism on Screen, political theorists Carl Eric Scott and F. Flagg Taylor IV assemble top scholars to analyze the film from philosophical and political perspectives. Their essays confront the nature and legacy of East Germany's totalitarian government and outline the reasons why such regimes endure.

Other than magazine and newspaper reviews, little has been written about The Lives of Others. This volume brings German scholarship on the topic to an English-speaking audience for the first time and explores the issue of government surveillance at a time when the subject is often front-page news. Featuring contributions from German president Joachim Gauck, prominent singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann, journalists Paul Hockenos and Lauren Weiner, and noted scholars Paul Cantor and James Pontuso, Totalitarianism on Screen contributes to the growing scholarship on totalitarianism and will interest historians, political theorists, philosophers, and fans of the film.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813144986
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 07/22/2014
Pages: 276
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Carl Eric Scott is visiting assistant professor of politics at Christopher Newport University.

F. Flagg Taylor IV is associate professor of government at Skidmore College. He is the editor of The Great Lie: Classic and Recent Appraisals of Ideology and Totalitarianism.

Table of Contents

Introduction Carl Eric Scott F. Flagg Taylor IV 1

Part 1 Truth and Dissent

1 Post-totalitarianism in The Lives of Others F. Flagg Taylor IV 19

2 What Is a Dissident? The Travails of the Intellectuals in The Lives of Others Lauren Weiner 35

Part 2 Art and Politics

3 Communist Moral Corruption and the Redemptive Power of Art Carl Eric Scott 57

4 Long Day's Journey into Brecht: The Ambivalent Politics of The Lives of Others Paul A. Cantor 83

5 The Tragic Ambiguity, or Ambiguous Tragedy, of Christa-Maria Sieland Dirk R. Johnson 111

Part 3 The Lives of Others and Other Films

6 The Lives of Others, Good Bye Lenin! and the Power of Everydayness James F. Pontuso 137

7 On the Impossibility of Withdrawal: Life in the Gray Zone Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz 155

Part 4 The Lives of Others and the History of the GDR

8 Fiction or Lived History? On the Question of the Credibility of The Lives of Others Manfred Wilke 171

9 The Ghosts Are Leaving the Shadows Wolf Biermann 183

10 Against Forgetting: A Conversation with Joachim Gauck Paul Hockenos 189

11 East German Totalitarianism: A Warning from History Peter Grieder 203

Part 5 The Stasi in the GDR

12 The Stasi: An Overview Jens Gieseke 231

Acknowledgments 257

List of Contributors 259

Index 263

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