The Afterlife of Files: Herta Müller's Story of Surveillance


ACLS Fellowship Program


Modern Languages


This monograph reconstructs Herta Müller’s story of surveillance by communist Romania’s secret police. It includes detailed analyses of her own secret police file, the file of her former husband, writer Richard Wagner, as well as informer and cadre files. Each chapter presents a multilayered and polyphonic file story, unraveling the skewed life segments that are coded and recorded in these files and recovering them in biographical acts. This constellation of file stories that intersect and overlap with Müller’s own presents a precarious collage of life stories during the Cold War. Intricate and particular, these stories illuminate the blurred boundary between victims and perpetrators in a society ripe with fear, suspicion, and misinformation.