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Building a National Literature

The Case of Germany, 1830 - 1870

by Peter Uwe Hohendahl

Building a National Literature boldly takes issue with traditional literary criticism for its failure to explain how literature as a body is created and shaped by institutional forces. Peter Uwe Hohendahl approaches literary history by focusing on the material and ideological structures that determine the canonical status of writers and works. He examines important elements in the making of a national literature, including the political and literary public sphere, the theory and practice of literary criticism, and the emergence of academic criticism as literary history. Hohendahl considers such key aspects of the process in Germany as the rise of liberalism and nationalism, the delineation of the borders of German literature, the idea of its history, the understanding of its cultural function, and the notion of a canon of major and minor authors.

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The Campaign State

Communist Mobilizations for the East German Countryside, 1945-1990

Communist regimes are defined by dictatorial power, state planning, and active propaganda machines. In The Campaign State, Gregory Witkowski explores the intersection of these three elements in East Germany by focusing on mass mobilizations. He dissects the anatomy of campaigns and argues that while mass mobilizations are often perceived as symbols of strength, they also indicate underlying systemic weaknesses. By focusing on the ability of regimes to mobilize individuals to transform society, he explains both the durability and the ultimate demise of the German Democratic Republic.

This study seamlessly blends an analysis of top-down campaign initiatives with the influence of such mobilizations on the grassroots level. For more than thirty years, East German leaders doggedly extended such mobilization efforts, yet complete success remained elusive. Witkowski reveals how local leaders, campaign participants, and peasants acted in ways both compliant and noncompliant with party goals to create societal change.

Campaigns became a ubiquitous part of life under communist rule. Witkowski shows that such mobilizations were initially an integral part of state-planning efforts and only later became ritualized, as party portrayals of goals and accomplishments diverged from East Germans’ lived experience. He argues that incessant campaigns exposed a substantial gap between rhetoric and reality in the German Democratic Republic that undermined the regime’s legitimacy. This valuable and original study will appeal to scholars and students of German history, Communism, and state planning.

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The Castles of the Rhine

Recreating the Middle Ages in Modern Germany

Far from being mere antiquarian or sentimental curiosities, the rebuilt or reused fortresses of the Rhine reflect major changes in Germany and Europe during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Taylor begins The Castles of the Rhine with a synopsis of the major political, social and intellectual changes that influenced castle rebuilding in the nineteenth century. He then focuses on selected castles, describing their turbulent histories from the time of their original construction, through their destruction or decay, to their rediscovery in the 1800s and their continued preservation today.

Reading this book is equivalent to looking at history though a romantic-nationalist kaleidoscope. Amply illustrated with maps and photographs, The Castles of the Rhine is a wonderful companion for anyone with dreams or experience of journeying along the Rhine.

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The Catholics and German Unity

1866-1871

George G. Windell

The Catholics and German Unity was first published in 1954. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

The period of German history between the overthrow of the old German Confederation in 1866 and the establishment of the Second Reich in 1871 was critical and far-reaching in its influence upon subsequent events in Germany and in Europe. It is, therefore, a period that still merits close scrutiny and analysis in all its aspects by historians.

In this detailed study, Professor Windell traces the development of political movements among German Catholics during those years and explores the relationship of the various streams of Catholic political action to the larger questions of German history. The War of 1866, which ended Austrian predominance in Germany, was a shattering blow to German Catholics. During the next five years they gradually adjusted to the new situations and were responsible for a series of political movements which exerted a powerful and generally underestimated effects on state governments, on other political parties, and on the domestic and foreign policy of Bismarck.

Although a substantial amount of material was available on Catholic political activity in the individual German states, it had not, until now, been synthesized into a comprehensive, single work placing these events in proper perspective against the broader canvas of history.

Of this book Hans Rothfels, professor of history at the University of Chicago and the University of Tubingen, Germany, says: "Without being partial to any side, in fact with considerable circumspection, the author analyzes and interprets a great nineteenth century dilemma to which the foundation of the German Reich adds only a specific issue."

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The Chain of Things

Divinatory Magic and the Practice of Reading in German Literature and Thought, 1850–1940

Eric Downing

In The Chain of Things, Eric Downing shows how the connection between divinatory magic and reading shaped the experience of reading and aesthetics among nineteenth-century realists and modernist thinkers. He explores how writers, artists, and critics such as Gottfried Keller, Theodor Fontane, and Walter Benjamin drew on the ancient practice of divination, connecting the Greek idea of sympathetic magic to the German aesthetic concept of the attunement of mood and atmosphere.

Downing deftly traces the genealogical connection between reading and art in classical antiquity, nineteenth-century realism, and modernism, attending to the ways in which the modern re-enchantment of the world—both in nature and human society—consciously engaged ancient practices that aimed at preternatural prediction. Of particular significance to the argument presented in The Chain of Things is how the future figured into the reading of texts during this period, a time when the future as a narrative determinant or article of historical faith was losing its force. Elaborating a new theory of magic as a critical tool, Downing secures crucial links between the governing notions of time, world, the "real," and art.

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Changing Places

Society, Culture, and Territory in the Saxon-Bohemian Borderlands, 1870-1946

Caitlin E. Murdock

Changing Places is an interesting meditation on the varying identities and rights claimed by residents of borderlands, the limits placed on the capacities of nation-states to police their borders and enforce national identities, and the persistence of such contact zones in the past and present. It is an extremely well-written and engaging study, and an absolute pleasure to read. ---Dennis Sweeney, University of Alberta "Changing Places offers a brilliantly transnational approach to its subject, the kind that historians perennially demand of themselves but almost never accomplish in practice." ---Pieter M. Judson, Swarthmore College Changing Places is a transnational history of the birth, life, and death of a modern borderland and of frontier peoples' changing relationships to nations, states, and territorial belonging. The cross-border region between Germany and Habsburg Austria---and after 1918 between Germany and Czechoslovakia---became an international showcase for modern state building, nationalist agitation, and local pragmatism after World War I, in the 1930s, and again after 1945. Caitlin Murdock uses wide-ranging archival and published sources from Germany and the Czech Republic to tell a truly transnational story of how state, regional, and local historical actors created, and eventually destroyed, a cross-border region. Changing Places demonstrates the persistence of national fluidity, ambiguity, and ambivalence in Germany long after unification and even under fascism. It shows how the 1938 Nazi annexation of the Czechoslovak "Sudetenland" became imaginable to local actors and political leaders alike. At the same time, it illustrates that the Czech-German nationalist conflict and Hitler's Anschluss are only a small part of the larger, more complex borderland story that continues to shape local identities and international politics today. Caitlin E. Murdock is Associate Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach. Jacket Credit: Cover art courtesy of the author

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Chosen Nation

Mennonites and Germany in a Global Era

Benjamin W. Goossen

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the global Mennonite church developed an uneasy relationship with Germany. Despite the religion's origins in the Swiss and Dutch Reformation, as well as its longstanding pacifism, tens of thousands of members embraced militarist German nationalism. Chosen Nation is a sweeping history of this encounter and the debates it sparked among parliaments, dictatorships, and congregations across Eurasia and the Americas.

Offering a multifaceted perspective on nationalism's emergence in Europe and around the world, Benjamin Goossen demonstrates how Mennonites' nationalization reflected and reshaped their faith convictions. While some church leaders modified German identity along Mennonite lines, others appropriated nationalism wholesale, advocating a specifically Mennonite version of nationhood. Examining sources from Poland to Paraguay, Goossen shows how patriotic loyalties rose and fell with religious affiliation. Individuals might claim to be German at one moment but Mennonite the next. Some external parties encouraged separatism, as when the Weimar Republic helped establish an autonomous "Mennonite State" in Latin America. Still others treated Mennonites as quintessentially German; under Hitler's Third Reich, entire colonies benefited from racial warfare and genocide in Nazi-occupied Ukraine. Whether choosing Germany as a national homeland or identifying as a chosen people, called and elected by God, Mennonites committed to collective action in ways that were intricate, fluid, and always surprising.

The first book to place Christianity and diaspora at the heart of nationality studies, Chosen Nation illuminates the rising religious nationalism of our own age.

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Christmas in Germany

A Cultural History

Joe Perry

For poets, priests, and politicians--and especially ordinary Germans--in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the image of the loving nuclear family gathered around the Christmas tree symbolized the unity of the nation at large. German Christmas was supposedly organic, a product of the winter solstice rituals of pagan Teutonic tribes, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and the age-old customs that defined German character. Yet, as Joe Perry argues, Germans also used these annual celebrations to contest the deepest values that held the German community together: faith, family, and love, certainly, but also civic responsibility, material prosperity, and national belonging.

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A Church Divided

German Protestants Confront the Nazi Past

Matthew D. Hockenos

This book closely examines the turmoil in the German Protestant churches in the immediate postwar years as they attempted to come to terms with the recent past. Reeling from the impact of war, the churches addressed the consequences of cooperation with the regime and the treatment of Jews. In Germany, the Protestant Church consisted of 28 autonomous regional churches. During the Nazi years, these churches formed into various alliances. One group, the German Christian Church, openly aligned itself with the Nazis. The rest were cautiously opposed to the regime or tried to remain noncommittal. The internal debates, however, involved every group and centered on issues of belief that were important to all. Important theologians such as Karl Barth were instrumental in pressing these issues forward. While not an exhaustive study of Protestantism during the Nazi years, A Church Divided breaks new ground in the discussion of responsibility, guilt, and the Nazi past.

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Cities of Refuge

German Jews in London and New York, 1935-1945

Contrasts the experiences of German Jewish refugees from the Holocaust who fled to London and New York City.

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