Eugen Banauch: Home as a Thought between Quotation Marks

The thesis “‘Home’ as a Thought between Quotation Marks” is the first comprehensive approach to investigate exile literature by Jewish Third Reich refugees in Canada. It defines the subject matter for a study which is long overdue within the particular field, combines various methodologies from different disciplines, and is intended to be a point of departure for further studies. The cultural production of the Jewish, Austrian, German, Canadian writers Henry Kreisel, Eric Koch, Carl Weiselberger, and Charles Wassermann, who all came to Canada as internees in the 1940s and stayed on in Canada after 1945, is investigated. Although the readings undertaken here mainly concentrate on these four writers, also other Canadian writers or former Canadian internees of Austrian or German descent such as Helene Askenasy, Marthe Karlweis, Walter Jelen, Peter Heller, Anthony Fritsch, Hans Eichner, Ernest Borneman, Walter Igersheimer, and Harry Seidler are read in this context. The writers I investigate here have been on the margin concerning critical and popular reception of their works in Germany and Austria and, with the exception of Kreisel, also in Canada. As the temporal scope of the investigation includes more than 60 years, an investigation of the host society needs to think context not as a static concept but take into account the tremendous changes within the Canadian socio-cultural formation from the early forties to the beginning of the new millenium. Covering such a long period of time also necessitates a new theoretical notion, the concept of ‘fluid exile’. It is used as an inclusive approach which at the same time semantically points to exile as determinant at the beginning of the cultural contact with Canada. It thus provides a chance to integrate highly divergent constructions of transcultural selves meandering between and negotiating Jewish, Canadian, Austrian, and German worlds and their manifold crossings, in and as texts which become contact zones.

(University of Vienna)