|dc.description.abstract||This thesis explores the representation of Heimat in Stephan Thome’s novel Grenzgang (2009). The concept of Heimat is a subjective and therefore challenging idea, as a result there is no generally accepted definition of Heimat. Thus notions that contribute to the conception of Heimat – nostalgia, womanhood, the triad of province-city-world as well as nationhood and tradition – are analysed in the present work.
Far beyond the cliché of an idyllic Heimat as a place to escape from real life, Grenzgang demonstrates a more modern version of the concept. The inhabitants of the Hessian town Bergenstadt, especially the protagonists Thomas and Kerstin, have to deal with the harsh reality of their lives. Since the Hessian countryside is caught up in the processes of globalization, its inhabitants have new opportunities, but they have to come to terms with new threats as well. The result is increasing insecurity, which in turn is partly buffered by the existing tradition of the “Grenzgang,” i.e. walking along the limits of the town in order to re-establish its borders. That tradition is the connecting element in this novel, causing the inhabitants of Bergenstadt to experience a feeling of security and identity in the traditional community. Furthermore, they build up a relationship with their rural environment and their history.
The novel Grenzgang demonstrates that Heimat can be acquired actively through social relations even if this Heimat is threatened by insecurity. The thesis stresses the progressive character of the individual acquisition of traditions while its special focus is on the subjectivity of the concept of Heimat: Each character has to find his or her own form of Heimat and by extension his or her identity. Grenzgang shows that this can be successfully experienced in the present day. Furthermore the novel's realistic treatment of the countryside differs from the positively-transfigured, negative or ironic representations of previous Heimat novels.||en