Jessica Ortner

Jessica Ortner

Associate Professor

I studied comparative literature, German and Cultural Studies in Odense (DK), Zürich and Copenhagen. In 2012, I finished my doctoral thesis on representation of the Holocaust in the magnum opus of the Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek Die Kinder der Toten (1995). The thesis is published under the title Poetologie “nach Auschwitz”. Narratologie, Semarntik und sekundäre Zeugenschaft in Elfriede Jelineks Roman ‚Die Kinder der Toten.‘ (Berlin: Frank&Timme, 2016).

In the running and recent research project, I have turned my attention to migrant literature. I investigate circulation of memories from Eastern Europe /Balkan to the West (i.e. Germany, Scandinavia, UK), clashes of memory cultures, the interaction and frictions between institutional and artistic memory cultures and the impact of artistic works on art on cultural memory.

Between 2019 and 2022 i will be primary investigator of the collaborative project on post-Yugoslav migrant literature in Germany, Scandinavia and England

Primary fields of research

Memory studies

German and danish Holocaust literature by the second and third generation 

European and German memory culture

Contemporary austrian literature (Elfriede Jelinek, Thomas Bernhard)

Migrant literature

Current research

Mnemonic migration - Transnational Circulation and Reception of Wartime Memories in post-Yugoslav Migrant Literature (Running from 2019 until 2022)

In a time of increased migratory flows, it is of particular relevance to understand how migration changes the conditions for the construction of cultural memory and national identity. This project will do just that by investigating the impact of a pan-European wave of post-Yugoslav migrant literature on readers in the German, Scandinavian and English speaking regions. It will develop a multifaceted method for investigating the interplay between the migrant, as carrier of alien memories, the local “memory consumer”, and established frameworks of memory that govern what ought to be remembered and how. Conceptualizing the migrant’s transmission of (traumatic) memories into new frameworks of memories as mnemonic migration, the project investigates the ability of migrant authors to function as ambassador for Yugoslav war time memories in distant societies and to provide new discursive means that, in a reciprocal process, are able to affect elite discourses in the authors’ home countries.

 

Transcultural Memory as Battlefield of European Identity –The Making of Europe in Contemporary German-Language Migrant Literature (Running from 2016 to 2018)

This research project investigated the interrelations and frictions between imaginations of Europe in contemporary Jewish-German migrant literature and those brought forth on the political level of EU’s memory politics. The project will focus memory competitions between various national and transnational histories that hamper the attempt of the European Union to agree on a common understanding of the past. In this, I investigate interconnections and mutual influences between political and artistic formations of cultural memory and the ability of German-Jewish migrant literature to propel an understanding between conflicting versions of the past.

 

Teaching

German Memory culture

Austrian literature

Holocaust literature

Migrant literature

Nazism in Germany and Austria

Text analysis 

Fields of interest

Memory studies

European memory

Migrant literature

Jewish literaturen

Representation of Holocaust and Gulag

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