From London to Leipzig and back: (Post-)Punk, ‘Endzeit’ and Gothic in the GDR

Schrijnders, Marlene (2019). From London to Leipzig and back: (Post-)Punk, ‘Endzeit’ and Gothic in the GDR. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis investigates Goth culture (in the widest sense, including Post-Punk, New Wave and New Romantic scenes, genres and styles) in the GDR between 1983 and 1989/1990 from state and participants perspectives. Drawing on the major works within Gothic, subculture, and postmodern theory, this thesis explores the ‘subcultural capital’ of the pluriform, multi-scene East German Goth culture in official state documents and in ‘subcultural micro-media’ to answer the key question how Goth scenes were represented by different participants and political actors. Participants are considered as agents whose ‘spectacular style’ brought them in conflict with society and authority, and who performed different politics of representation which varied between self-marginalisation and demystification, and between isolation and ‘liberalisation through negotiation’. The thesis explores the uniqueness of East German Goth(ic) while considering it as a transnational phenomenon in the Cold War Zeitgeist of the 1980s. The ‘local boundedness’ made East German Goth develop both similarly and differently compared to Goth scenes in the West. The study demonstrates that symbolic representations of Goth contain sets of social and political relationships and practices as well as existential conflicts, strategies, and solutions. It will on the one side be shown how social groups which are considered ‘Goth’ produced meaning, identity, and ‘ideology’. On the other side, it will be shown that the state applied the principle of homology and semiological method to understand subcultural phenomena and what the results of this were. The overarching question of this study is dual: How is Gothic culture and how are participants in Gothic culture represented in the individual interpretations and translations of ‘Gothic’ in micro-media produced by participants, and how is Gothic culture and how are participants in Gothic culture represented in official state documents and embedded in the political-ideological narrative and terminology? The dual perspectivity gives insights into what is referred to in this thesis as ‘Post-Punk transition’ in subcultural ‘texts’, and ‘Post-Punk confusion’ in state theory. It will be shown in this thesis how Punk evolved into Goth, what marks this transition in the subcultural micro-media, and how this transition is reflected in official state documentation. The thesis also shows that within both perspectives, there are difference and ambivalence. The representations of Goth in the GDR are an ideal case study to explore how subcultural identities and meanings are constructed through language and rhetoric, and that definitions of ‘subculture’ and ‘Goth’ are fluid and subject to time and space.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Modern Languages
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D890 Eastern Hemisphere
D History General and Old World > DD Germany
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
J Political Science > JC Political theory
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PD Germanic languages
P Language and Literature > PT Germanic literature


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