The “Third Alternative”: Imagining a New Historiography in Cassandra

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Christa Wolf's novel Cassandra moves toward a utopic vision by connecting practices of historiography with change and social justice. Troy's downfall is associated with a historiography that presents itself as objective, privileges the public realm over the private, and silences contradictory voices. Wolf's utopic mountain community, the use of an authorial frame, and the example of Cassandra's narrative present a more useful approach, in which facts and narratives are understood not as part of an irrefutable Truth but rather as mediated traces of the past, open to question and interpretation. This renewed historiography leads to social action as a person's or community's positioning is reconsidered in light of new voices or complex understandings of the past. Cassandra thus encourages a historiography that is constantly open and in process so as to change not only the way people understand the past but also the way they move into the future.

Keywords: Cassandra; Christa Wolf; Historiography; Social Justice; Social Theory; Utopia

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2005

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