FYS: German Cultural Studies from 1871 - Present

Faculty Member

Roland Dollinger



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Anna Mitgutsch’s House of Childhood (2000) and Jenny Erpenbeck’s Visitation (2008) use places as holders of cultural memory and historical witnesses. House of Childhood follows Max Berman as he returns to his childhood village to reclaim his Jewish family’s house. Visitation offers snapshots of German life in the same house in different time periods. Cultural memory, in Jan Assmann’s theory, is memory rooted in objectivized culture. When culture is crystallized into texts, images, buildings, landscapes, etc., these objects hold the history of a group and inform the group’s unity and self-image. Assmann outlines six characteristics of cultural memory: concretion of identity, capacity to reconstruct, formation, organization, obligation, and reflexivity. The town of H. in House of Childhood and the central house in Visitation meet each of these characteristics. The novels explore the importance of cultural memory in situations where memory is not passed on by people.

Publication Date

Spring 2020

Document Type



House of Childhood, Anna Mitgutsch, Jenny Erpenbeck, Visitation, memory, German, Jewish


Comparative Literature | German Language and Literature | Modern Literature | Theory and Criticism

Open Access


Cultural Memory through Spaces: An Analysis of A. Mitgutsch’s House of Childhood and J. Erpenbeck’s Visitation