In the festive atmosphere surrounding the destruction of the Berlin
Wall on Nov. 9, 1989, the German people did not foresee the difficult
reunification issues ahead.
There was, for example, the question of what to do with nearly
5,000 so-called Wall dogs, the canine army that had
guarded the border and now, overnight, had lost their lifes
purpose. Could these dogsraised under Stalinism, trained as
killersbe reintegrated into European society as household
pets? Would East German dogs now flood the pet market, thereby devaluing
their West German counterparts?
Such serious, satirical questions are the trademark of Berlin-based
novelist and journalist Peter Schneider, who will visit Emory March
18April 5 as the Halle Institutes 2002 Distinguished
Fellow. The author of more than 20 books (including The German
Comedy, from which his essay Of Dogs and Germans
comes), Schneider also is a well-known social commentator.
Each year the Distinguished Fellow Program invites an international
personality to the Emory campus for several weeks of intensive interaction
with faculty, students and political and business leaders throughout
Atlanta. Schneiders visit marks an expansion of the program
into the arts and humanities.
In his latest novel, Eduards Homecoming, a West German
émigré living in the United States returns to Berlin
when he becomes one of millions of Germans entitled to reclaim family
property in the former GDR. When he begins to suspect that his deceased
grandfather bought the building from a Jewish friend in 1933, Eduard
(like an entire post-war generation) must contemplate his ancestors
complicity in the Holocaust.
Schneiders essays and articles have appeared in numerous
newspapers and journals, including The New York Times, Der
Spiegel, Le Monde and New Republic, and explore
issues such as the possible revival of German nationalism, the growth
of NATO and the influx of immigrants into Germany.
While at Emory, Schneider will share his insights in several meetings
with faculty and students. He will lead an advanced seminar for
German studies faculty on Writing the Grossstadtroman
(novel of a great city). He will visit undergraduate classes in
journalism and history to explore the role of novelist as social
critic. At Goizueta Business School, he will address the rocky cultural
marriage of the Chrysler/Daimler-Benz merger, the subject of his
Aug. 12, 2001, article in The New York Times Magazine.
Schneider is also the author of several screenplays, including
those for the films Messer im Kopf (Knife in the Head) and
Das Versprechen (The Promise), which follows the personal
tragedy of two lovers separated by the Wall. There will be a screening
of the latter on March 19, followed by a panel discussion with Emory
This years program will reach well beyond the Emory campus.
Schneiders schedule includes visits to classes in 10 area
colleges and universities, including Agnes Scott, Morehouse and
Georgia Tech. He also will give presentations to the Goethe Institute
and the Atlanta Council on International Relations.
Schneider will deliver three public lectures:
Sept. 11 and Its Aftermath: Media and the Collective
Conscience in Germany, March 21, 7 p.m., in the nursing school
Mourners Defining the Past: Current Politics of Memory
in Germany, April 4, 3:30 p.m., Kennesaw State University.
Americas Misunderstood Partner: A United Germany
in a Unifying Europe, April 5, 3:30 p.m., Oxford College.
In addition, Schneiders wife, Polish-born painter Ruza Spak,
will have an exhibit of her work at the Halle Institute. Spaks
paintings have been seen in U.S. galleries and on the cover of the
L.A. Book Review. An opening reception is scheduled for March 20
at 6 p.m.
For a full schedule of Schneiders visit, go to: www.emory.edu/OIA/Halle/schneider.html
or call 404-727-7504.