chapter  8
23 Pages

Postmonolingual Struggles and the Poetry of Uljana Wolf

WithMirjam Gebauer

This chapter argues that some of the conflicts that take place in the postmigrant condition are fought on a linguistic battlefield. Yasemin Yildiz refers to this situation as the ‘postmonolingual condition’, a situation in which ideas of languages as pure, self-contained and separated units are challenged by ideas of languages as hybrid, fluid and open systems. The increased significance of conflicts about language in the postmigrant condition, it is argued in the chapter, may be better understood when considering language as a cultural institution that plays an important role in the formation of identities and cultural positionings. Using the field of German literature as a case in point, the chapter shows how ideas of languages as hybrid are gaining influence and notions of languages as pure and ideas of monolingual constellations as a state of normality are dissolving. Not only are phenomena of multilingualism simply accepted, they are regarded as generative for artistic creativity. However, new lines of conflict between multilingualism and monolingualism are observed as populist currents have regained influence in society. On this backdrop, the chapter analyses works by contemporary German poet Uljana Wolf as a prominent example of an experimental and translingual poetics that taps into various discourses of society and traces mutually conflictual conceptions of language while examining their political and cultural implications.