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Images of Germany in American Literature

Waldemar Zacharasiewicz

Publication Year: 2007

Although German Americans number almost 43 million and are the largest ethnic group in the United States, scholars of American literature have paid little attention to this influential and ethnically diverse cultural group. In a work of unparalleled depth and range, Waldemar Zacharasiewicz explores the cultural and historical background of the varied images of Germany and Germans throughout the past two centuries. Using an interdisciplinary approach known as comparative imagology, which borrows from social psychology and cultural anthropology, Zacharasiewicz samples a broad spectrum of original sources, including literary works, letters, diaries, autobiographical accounts, travelogues, newspaper reports, films, and even cartoons and political caricatures.
    Starting with the notion of Germany as the ideal site for academic study and travel in the nineteenth century and concluding with the twentieth-century image of Germany as an aggressive country, this innovative work examines the ever-changing image of Germans and Germany in the writings of Louisa May Alcott, Samuel Clemens, Henry James, William James, George Santayana, W. E. B. Du Bois, John Dewey, H. L. Mencken, Katherine Anne Porter, Kay Boyle, Thomas Wolfe, Upton Sinclair, Gertrude Stein, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, William Styron, Walker Percy, and John Hawkes, among others.

Published by: University of Iowa Press


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p. v

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pp. vii-viii

Like every academic study, this one owes a debt of gratitude to many individuals and institutions. This volume has been in the making since the early 1990s during which time I have benefited from the support of many friends and colleagues, fellow students in the field of imagology, and hospitable academic institutions. ...

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1. Introduction: Images of Germany in America

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pp. 1-15

This volume presents images of Germany found in American literature since the late nineteenth century. The analysis takes its departure from an awareness of the dramatic reevaluation of Germany since 1815 (which a companion volume to this monograph will study), and considers not only the most important literary texts, ...

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2. Discovering Germany: The Early Nineteenth Century

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pp. 16-28

The first German settlement in Lancaster County around Germantown, founded as a village in 1683, remained the center of a gradually growing ethnic group. By 1747 the community had gained so much political clout that Benjamin Franklin prepared a pamphlet in which he tried to win their support for the defense of ...

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3. Differing Responses: The Late Nineteenth Century

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pp. 29-45

In the years following the Napoleonic Wars German culture had become a source of inspiration and a model for many American writers and intellectuals, and a visit to the country as part of the journey to the Old World or at the end of one’s studies had become more or less a necessity. The events of 1866 and 1870–1871, which ...

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4. Transatlantic Encounters: Fin-de-si

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pp. 46-67

Just as the worldview, the concept of science, and the image of Germany held by William James were shaped by his encounters in Central Europe, so the mental map of the European continent in the minds of other American academic teachers and administrators was equally formed by their years of study spent at German universities. ...

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5. Cultural Conflicts: The Early Twentieth Century

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pp. 68-89

While M

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6. Interlude: Before World War II

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pp. 90-121

For many years after the cessation of hostilities in 1918 American authors were still preoccupied with their wartime experiences. While they dissociated themselves emphatically from the anti-German propaganda of the war years,1 a number of war novels exposed the hollowness of the rhetoric and the seemingly high ideals ...

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7. The Return of Clich

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pp. 122-138

American society had long been dominated by the desire to keep out of the conflicts in the Old World (though it was prepared to enter into the “lend-lease” agreement with Britain). However, it was not until the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor forced the United States to enter the war that the public was again ready to ...

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8. The Burden of the Past: Post-War Germany

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pp. 139-175

The reports and above all the photographs of the liberation of emaciated prisoners from the concentration camps disclosed to the American public the extent of the bestial crimes of Nazi Germany, and justified for many observers the summary attribution of guilt to the Germans. Not surprisingly the writers accompanying the ...

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9. Conclusion: A Look toward the Future

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pp. 176-182

The analysis of the image of Germany in American literature since the latter half of the nineteenth century has confirmed the results of imagological research based on the examination of other texts from other cultures. The research has substantiated the view that the importance of individual experience is often limited ...


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pp. 183-226


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pp. 227-248


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pp. 249-253

E-ISBN-13: 9781587297786
E-ISBN-10: 1587297787
Print-ISBN-13: 9781587295249
Print-ISBN-10: 1587295245

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: cloth

OCLC Number: 651902432
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Images of Germany in American Literature

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Subject Headings

  • Packing-houses -- Middle West.
  • Agricultural industries -- Middle West.
  • Agricultural industries -- Environmental aspects -- Middle West.
  • Middle West -- Economic conditions -- 21st century.
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