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Women Warriors in German Literature and Culture in the Age of Goethe
Anarchism, Socialism, and Political Culture in Imperial Germany
The Culture of Drink in Early Modern Germany
In Bacchus and Civic Order, Ann Tlusty examines the social and cultural functions served by drinking and tavern life in Germany between 1500 and 1700, and challenges existing theories about urban identity, sociability, and power. Through her reconstruction of the social history of Augsburg, from beggars to council members, Tlusty also sheds light on such diverse topics as social ritual, gender and household relations, medical practice, and the concerns of civic leaders with public health and poverty. Drunkenness, dueling, and other forms of tavern comportment that may appear "disorderly" to us today turn out to be the inevitable, even desirable result of a society functioning according to its own rules.
Culture and Politics in Göttingen between the World Wars
Becoming a Nazi Town reveals the ways in which ordinary Germans changed their cultural lives and their politics from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s. Casting the origins of Nazism in a new light, David Imhoof charts the process by which Weimar and Nazi culture flowed into each other. He analyzes this dramatic transition by looking closely at three examples of everyday cultural life in the mid-sized German city of Göttingen: sharpshooting, an opera festival, and cinema. Imhoof draws on individual and community experiences over a series of interwar periods to highlight and connect shifts in culture, politics, and everyday life. He demonstrates how Nazi leaders crafted cultural policies based in part on homegrown cultural practices of the 1920s and argues that overdrawn distinctions between “Weimar” and “Nazi” culture did not always conform to most Germans’ daily lives. Further, Imhoof presents experiences in Göttingen as a reflection of the common reality of many German towns beyond the capital city of Berlin.
Travels through Germany
Nobody writes travelogues about Germany. The country spurs many anxious volumes of investigative reporting--books that worry away at the "German problem," World War II, the legacy of the Holocaust, the Wall, reunification, and the connections between them. But not travel books, not the free-ranging and impressionistic works of literary nonfiction we associate with V. S. Naipaul and Bruce Chatwin. What is it about Germany and the travel book that puts them seemingly at odds? With one foot in the library and one on the street, Michael Gorra offers both an answer to this question and his own traveler's tale of Germany.
Gorra uses Goethe's account of his Italian journey as a model for testing the traveler's response to Germany today, and he subjects the shopping arcades of contemporary German cities to the terms of Benjamin's Arcades project. He reads post-Wende Berlin through the novels of Theodor Fontane, examines the role of figurative language, and enlists W. G. Sebald as a guide to the place of fragments and digressions in travel writing.
Replete with the flaneur's chance discoveries--and rich in the delights of the enduring and the ephemeral, of architecture and flood--The Bells in Their Silence offers that rare traveler's tale of Germany while testing the very limits of the travel narrative as a literary form.
Modernity, Nation, and the Baroque
In Benjamin's Library, Jane O. Newman offers, for the first time in any language, a reading of Walter Benjamin's notoriously opaque work, Origin of the German Tragic Drama that systematically attends to its place in discussions of the Baroque in Benjamin's day. Taking into account the literary and cultural contexts of Benjamin's work, Newman recovers Benjamin's relationship to the ideologically loaded readings of the literature and political theory of the seventeenth-century Baroque that abounded in Germany during the political and economic crises of the Weimar years.
To date, the significance of the Baroque for Origin of the German Tragic Drama has been glossed over by students of Benjamin, most of whom have neither read it in this context nor engaged with the often incongruous debates about the period that filled both academic and popular texts in the years leading up to and following World War I. Armed with extraordinary historical, bibliographical, philological, and orthographic research, Newman shows the extent to which Benjamin participated in these debates by reconstructing the literal and figurative history of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century books that Benjamin analyzes and the literary, art historical and art theoretical, and political theological discussions of the Baroque with which he was familiar. In so doing, she challenges the exceptionalist, even hagiographic, approaches that have become common in Benjamin studies. The result is a deeply learned book that will infuse much-needed life into the study of one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century.
In transposing the Freudian dream work from the individual subject to the collective, Walter Benjamin projected a “macroscosmic journey” of the individual sleeper to “the dreaming collective, which, through the arcades, communes with its own insides.” Benjamin’s effort to transpose the dream phenomenon to the history of a collective remained fragmentary, though it underlies the principle of retrograde temporality, which, it is argued, is central to his idea of history. _x000B_The “passages” are not just the Paris arcades: they refer also to Benjamin’s effort to negotiate the labyrinth of his work and thought. Gelley works through many of Benjamin’s later works and examines important critical questions: the interplay of aesthetics and politics, the genre of The Arcades Project, citation, language, messianism, aura, and the motifs of memory, the crowd, and awakening._x000B_For Benjamin, memory is not only antiquarian: it functions as a solicitation, a call to a collectivity to come. Gelley reads this call in the motif of awakening, which conveys a qualified but crucial performative intention of Benjamin’s undertaking. _x000B_
Prostitution and the New German Woman, 1890–1933
During the late nineteenth century the city of Berlin developed such a reputation for lawlessness and sexual licentiousness that it came to be known as the "Whore of Babylon." Out of this reputation for debauchery grew an unusually rich discourse around prostitution. In Berlin Coquette, Jill Suzanne Smith shows how this discourse transcended the usual clichés about prostitutes and actually explored complex visions of alternative moralities or sexual countercultures including the “New Morality” articulated by feminist radicals, lesbian love, and the “New Woman.”
Combining extensive archival research with close readings of a broad spectrum of texts and images from the late Wilhelmine and Weimar periods, Smith recovers a surprising array of productive discussions about extramarital sexuality, women's financial autonomy, and respectability. She highlights in particular the figure of the cocotte (Kokotte), a specific type of prostitute who capitalized on the illusion of respectable or upstanding womanhood and therefore confounded easy categorization. By exploring the semantic connections between the figure of the cocotte and the act of flirtation (of being coquette), Smith’s work presents flirtation as a type of social interaction through which both prostitutes and non-prostitutes in Imperial and Weimar Berlin could express extramarital sexual desire and agency.
Cinema and Urban Nostalgia in the Postwall Era
Scarred by the Second World War, divided during the Cold War, and turned into a massive construction site in the early postwall years, Berlin has dramatically reinvented itself in the new millennium. Film has served a neglected but important function in this transformation.
In Berlin Replayed, Brigitta B. Wagner shows how old and new films set in Berlin created a collective urban nostalgia for the city’s best, most inclusive, and most conciliatory pasts in the face of its renewed purpose as the all-German capital. Exploring films such as Walter Ruttmann’s Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire, Tom Tykwer’s Run Lola Run, and Wolfgang Becker’s Good Bye, Lenin!, the book establishes that these films don’t merely feature the city but actively construct how viewers come to know different Berlins of the past and present. To illustrate how film has repeatedly remade the image of the city, Berlin Replayed focuses on four key periods: the golden 1920s, when the city was a major filmmaking center; the prewall 1950s, when Berlin had two ideologically opposed film industries; the politically transformative late 1980s and early 1990s; and the hyped start of the twenty-first century.
By showing how films have helped revive memories of the “good” Berlin and, by extension, the “good” Germany, Berlin Replayed reveals the underappreciated but powerful role film has played in the process of unifying Germany’s historical experience and bridging its physical and political divisions.
Displaced Persons in Postwar Germany
"Though its primary focus is on the immediate postwar, Between National Socialism and Soviet Communism will surely illuminate the contemporary crisis around citizenship and definitions of Germanness in the context of European Union and globalization." ---Geoff Eley, University of Michigan In May of 1945, there were more than eight million "displaced persons" (or DPs) in Germany---recently liberated foreign workers, concentration camp prisoners, and prisoners of war from all of Nazi-occupied Europe, as well as eastern Europeans who had fled west before the advancing Red Army. Although most of them quickly returned home, it soon became clear that large numbers of eastern European DPs could or would not do so. . In the aftermath of National Socialism, Germany thus ironically became a temporary home for a large population of "foreigners." Focusing on Bavaria, in the heart of the American occupation zone, Between National Socialism and Soviet Communism examines the cultural and political worlds that four groups of displaced persons---Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, and Jewish---created in Germany during the late 1940s and early 1950s. The volume investigates the development of refugee communities and how divergent interpretations of National Socialism and Soviet Communism defined these displaced groups. Combining German and eastern European history, Anna Holian draws on a rich array of sources in cultural and political history and engages the broader literature on displacement in the fields of anthropology, sociology, political theory, and cultural studies. Her book will interest students and scholars of German, eastern European, and Jewish history; migration and refugees; and human rights.