Pippi Beyond the Border: Pippi Longstocking in the German Democratic Republic

Field: Rhetoric, History, Children Literature
Project leader: Lisa Källström
Starting year: 2022
Project type: Project
Total funding: SEK 3,251,000

This project takes a broad approach to the reception of Pippi Longstocking in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). We (a historian and a rhetorician) start our exploration by looking at the differences between the two GDR editions of Pippi, from 1975 and from 1988, focusing on their physical and sensory qualities. Spotlighting three thematic threads – communist goals, pedagogy, and propaganda – we trace communist-inflected the visual and narrative rhetorical strategies children were supposed to appropriate. Specifically, we seek to define concrete examples and explain how children’s books were modified in the totalitarian society of the GDR to promote its view on children and childhood. The differences between the two GDR books, the BRD-license edition, and the Swedish original are also interesting because they shed new light on the cultural recoding at work in the processes of transnational media exchange in the Baltic Sea Region. To deepen our understanding of everyday life experiences of children, letters to Astrid Lindgren about Pippi are analysed and integrated into our research findings.