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May 2017

Press Contact:

Anne Meerboth-Maltz
Tel. (312)781-5185
Fax (312) 781-5188
E-mail: ameerboth@mdna.com

Messe Düsseldorf North America
150 North Michigan Avenue
Suite 2920
Chicago, IL 60601


The drupa Prize 2017 was awarded to Anne Sokoll from the Faculty of Philosophy at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany for her doctoral thesis on the “The Circle of Writing Workers in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). History, Aesthetics and Cultural Practice of a Movement.” The Euro 6,000 prize was presented by Claus Bolza-Schünemann (CEO of Koenig & Bauer AG and Chairman of the drupa committee), Werner M. Dornscheidt (President & CEO of Messe Düsseldorf) and Prof. Dr. Anja Steinbeck (President of Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf) at the Industry-Club Düsseldorf (Germany) on May 31, 2017.

“In her work, Anne Sokoll carried out an academic study examining the background of the movement of “writing workers” in the GDR for the first time and attempted to shed some light on this field of literature and the associated movement that thousands of people were part of,” commented Claus Bolza-Schünemann.

Her doctoral these deals with the issue that the majority of authors in the GDR refused to embrace the ideology of the Socialist Union Party (SED), the leading state party of the republic, in their literature and to educate the workers in the workers’ and farmers’ state along the party’s political lines. As a result, in the 1950s the SED planned to have the workers themselves write under the slogan “Take up your Pens” in order to create new socialist nationalist literature for the GDR. Professional writers were asked to go to factories and report on the “magnificent society reorganization” from their own perspective. This led to over 250 literary circles being formed in the GDR which became the contact points for those with an interest in writing. Under the guidance of experienced writers and journalists the lay authors produced masses of text in those circles, which ultimately did not qualify as new GDR national literature. However, the diversity of companies and regions where these circles were located characterized the type and contents of the circle literature, providing insight into people’s lives and their work in the GDR. After the German reunification in 1989 most of the circles of writing workers disbanded but due to some activists the circle literature was not lost altogether.

“May this doctoral thesis awarded with the drupa Prize 2017 stimulate more commitment for the academic appraisal of the East and West German past that today forms part of the pan-German commemorative culture,” said Claus Bolza-Schünemann.

About the Award Winner
Anne Sokoll was born on in Cologne (Germany) on June 16, 1980. After finishing her secondary education examination she studied German philology, media and political sciences as well as “German as a foreign language” at the Faculty of Philosophy at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. In 2008 she completed an MA with distinction. In 2009 she started her doctoral thesis on the “Circle of Writing Workers in the GDR. On the History, Aesthetics and Cultural Practice of a Movement”. Successful disputation followed in March 2016 and the dissertation received summa cum laude and a distinction. Anne Sokoll currently works as a senior scientific advisor to the editors of the düsseldorf university press and as a lecturer in the Faculty of Philosophy at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf.

About the drupa Prize
Every year, Messe Düsseldorf awards the drupa Prize to the best doctoral thesis at the Philosophical Faculty of Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany. Since 1978, it has honored outstanding humanities dissertations produced at the Düsseldorf University and promoted their publication and distribution with prize money of EUR 6,000. The drupa Prize is awarded each year by an expert panel consisting of the President and Vice-President of the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, the Chairman of the drupa Committee and the President & CEO of Messe Düsseldorf.

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Messe Dusseldorf North America Located at 150 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2920, Chicago, IL. Phone: 312-781-5180. .