Teaching in East Germany in the 1980s
Collaborating with my Stasi File
This essay reflects on Morrison’s experience teaching in East Germany in the 1980s through an exchange programme between Brown University and the (former) Wilhelm-Pieck-Universität Rostock. Of particular note is Morrison’s Stasi – or secret police – file. While some sections are typewritten, the pages from the IMs or “unofficial collaborators” are hand-written. Focusing on an incident from September 1985, when Morrison was in charge of the programme’s “wall newspaper,” this essay reflects on a student’s controversial article about “Good Women in the Soviet Union.” This was not received well by university authorities and threatened to undermine the delicately negotiated exchange programme. Research on the nature of secret police files from the former East Germany and other eastern European countries as literary narratives suggests that those drafting such files can be understood as fiction writers, including making totally innocent material sound shady. While one “unofficial collaborator” suggests that Morrison would be a good partner with Rostock in the future, some have suggested that he might have been intending to “turn” Morrison as a spy for East Germany.
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