European Literatures of Military Occupation

Shared Experience, Shifting Boundaries, and Aesthetic Affections

Edited by Matthias Buschmeier and Jeanne E. Glesener

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Occupation literature: a new perspective on European identities

What does it mean to live under occupation? How does it shape the culture and identities of European nations? How does it affect the way we write and read literature? These are fundamental questions that set the stage for an in-depth exploration. Focusing on the literary works of writers from various European countries that were occupied by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union or the Allies during and after World War II, the contributions in this edited volume seek to unravel the complex interplay between historical circumstances and literary expression. Centred on the concept of occupation literature as a genre in its own right, differentiating it from 'war literature', the book navigates this subtle distinction, drawing connections with the Holocaust novel and extending the timeframe beyond Nazi occupation.

European Literatures of Military Occupation argues that the multifaceted experiences of occupation have played a pivotal role in shaping European identities. Moreover, the volume links European identities to the experience of occupation by unveiling the complex and diverse ways in which writers respond to historical and political circumstances. Introducing the concept of 'affective realism' and exploring its intersection with the occupation novel, the book provides nuanced insights into the intricate relationship between history, identity, and literature. It combines theoretical perspectives relevant to researchers in the humanities with detailed case studies, generating a truly interdisciplinary perspective, enriched by a strong transnational dimension, creating a cohesive narrative that intervenes innovatively in the fields of literary, cultural, and historical criticism.

Ebook available in Open Access.
This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Contributors: Klaus-Michael Bogdal (Bielefeld University), Jan Andres (Bielefeld University), Benedikts Kalnačs (University of Latvia), Stefan Laffin (Leibnitz University of Hannover), Daniela Lieb (Centre national de littérature, Luxembourg), Atinati Mamatsashvil (Ilia State University), Christopher Meid (University of Freiburg), Aleksandar Momčilović (independent scholar), Jeroen Olyslaegers (independent literary author), Joanna Rzepa (University of Essex), Sandra Schell (Heidelberg University), Meinolf Schumacher (Bielefeld University), Stefanie Siess (Heidelberg University)

Format: Edited volume - paperback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

360 pages

ISBN: 9789462704077

Publication: June 10, 2024

Languages: English

Jeanne E. Glesener is an associate professor in Luxembourgish Literature, and Head of Institute at Université du Luxembourg.
Matthias Buschmeier is an associate professor (Akademischer Direktor) for German Literature in the European Context at Bielefeld University.

War is back in Europe, and, less noticed, so is occupation. This volume reminds us how World War II occupations have been represented in literature. Very timely and important! - Tatjana Tönsmeyer, Bergische Universität Wuppertal


European Literatures of Military Occupation, 1938-55 establishes ‘occupation literature’ as a distinct generic category. Rather than fighters, as does the war novel, occupation literature portrays civilians entangled in complex and often ambivalent relationships with the invader. The volume makes a bold claim that it is indeed the experience of occupation that forms the basis for European identity. It therefore becomes an important intervention at the time when Brexit and the widespread rise of populism have put in jeopardy the shared sense of Europeanness, while the war in Ukraine has reminded Europeans of the importance of unity and solidarity in the face of external threats. - Prof. Helena Duffy - University of Wroclaw