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Why were modernist works of art, literature, and music that were neither by nor about Jews nevertheless interpreted as Jewish? In this book, Neil Levi explores how the antisemitic fantasy of a mobile, dangerous, contagious Jewish spirit unfolds in the antimodernist polemics of Richard Wagner, Max Nordau, Wyndham Lewis, and Louis-Ferdinand Celine, reaching its apotheosis in the notorious 1937 Nazi exhibition "Degenerate Art." Levi then turns to James Joyce, Theodor W. Adorno, and Samuel Beckett, offering radical new interpretations of these modernist authors to show how each presents his own poetics as a self-conscious departure from the modern antisemitic imaginary. Levi claims that, just as antisemites once feared their own contamination by a mobile, polluting Jewish spirit, so too much of postwar thought remains governed by the fear that it might be contaminated by the spirit of antisemitism. Thus he argues for the need to confront and work through our own fantasies and projections not only about the figure of the Jew but also about that of the antisemite.
Vol. 99 (2007) through current issue
Founded in 1899, Monatshefte is the oldest continuing journal of German studies in the U.S. It offers scholarly articles dealing with the language and literature of German-speaking countries and with cultural matter which has literary or linguistic significance. Issues contain extensive book reviews of current scholarship in German Studies. Every Winter issue features Personalia, a listing of college and university German Department personnel from across the U.S. and Canada, and special surveys and articles dealing with professional concerns.
Normality, Deviance, and Criminal Violence in Weimar Berlin
Sace Elder has exhaustively researched both newspaper and other popular and professional treatments of murder cases and archival sources of police investigations and trials in Berlin between 1919 and 1931. Murder Scenes is an innovative and insightful exploration of the ways in which these investigations and trials, and the publicity surrounding them, reflected and shaped changing notions of normality and deviance in Weimar-era Berlin. ---Kenneth Ledford, Case Western Reserve University Using police reports, witness statements, newspaper accounts, and professional publications, Murder Scenes examines public and private responses to homicidal violence in Berlin during the tumultuous years of the Weimar era. Criminology and police science, both of which became increasingly professionalized over the period, sought to control and contain the blurring of these boundaries but could only do so by relying on a public that was willing to participate in the project. These Weimar developments in police practice in Berlin had important implications for what Elder identifies as an emerging culture of mutual surveillance that was successful both because and in spite of the incompleteness of the system police sought to construct, a culture that in many ways anticipated the culture of denunciation in the Nazi period. In addition to historians of Weimar, modern Germany, and modern Europe, German studies and criminal justice scholars will find this book of interest. Sace Elder is Associate Professor of History at Eastern Illinois University.
Genealogy, Racial Science, and the Final Solution
How could Germans, inhabitants of the most scientifically advanced nation in the world in the early 20th century, have espoused the inherently unscientific racist doctrines put forward by the Nazi leadership? Eric Ehrenreich traces the widespread acceptance of Nazi policies requiring German individuals to prove their Aryan ancestry to the popularity of ideas about eugenics and racial science that were advanced in the late Imperial and Weimar periods by practitioners of genealogy and eugenics. After the enactment of Nazi racial laws in the 1930s, the Reich Genealogical Authority, employing professional genealogists, became the providers and arbiters of the ancestral proof. This is the first detailed study of the operation of the ancestral proof in the Third Reich and the link between Nazi racism and earlier German genealogical practices. The widespread acceptance of this racist ideology by ordinary Germans helped create the conditions for the Final Solution.
Focusing on German romance films, domestic melodramas, and home front films from 1933 to 1945, Nazi Film Melodrama shows how melodramatic elements in Nazi cinema functioned as part of a project to move affect, body, and desire beyond the confines of bourgeois culture and participate in a curious modernization of sexuality engineered to advance the imperialist goals of the Third Reich. Rather than reinforcing traditional gender role divisions and the status quo of the nuclear family, these films were much more permissive about desire and sexuality than previously assumed. Offering a comparative analysis of Nazi productions with classical Hollywood films of the same era, Laura Heins argues that Nazi melodramas, film writing, and popular media appealed to viewers by promoting liberation from conventional sexual morality and familial structures, presenting the Nazi state and the individual as dynamic and revolutionary. Drawing on extensive archival research, this perceptive study highlights the seemingly contradictory aspects of gender representation and sexual morality in Nazi-era cinema.
Books, Literature, and the Culture of Consumption in Germany, 1770–1815
The consumer revolution of the eighteenth century brought new and exotic commodities to Europe from abroad—coffee, tea, spices, and new textiles to name a few. Yet one of the most widely distributed luxury commodities in the period was not new at all, and was produced locally: the book. In Necessary Luxuries, Matt Erlin considers books and the culture around books during this period, focusing specifically on Germany where literature, and the fine arts in general, were the subject of soul-searching debates over the legitimacy of luxury in the modern world.
Building on recent work done in the fields of consumption studies as well as the New Economic Criticism, Erlin combines intellectual-historical chapters (on luxury as a concept, luxury editions, and concerns about addictive reading) with contextualized close readings of novels by Campe, Wieland, Moritz, Novalis, and Goethe. As he demonstrates, artists in this period were deeply concerned with their status as luxury producers. The rhetorical strategies they developed to justify their activities evolved in dialogue with more general discussions regarding new forms of discretionary consumption. By emphasizing the fragile legitimacy of the fine arts in the period, Necessary Luxuries offers a fresh perspective on the broader trajectory of German literature in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, recasting the entire period in terms of a dynamic unity, rather than simply as a series of literary trends and countertrends.
Catholicism and National Indifference in a Central European Borderland
This is a fascinating local story with major implications for studies of nationalism and regional identities throughout Europe more generally. ---Dennis Sweeney, University of Alberta "James Bjork has produced a finely crafted, insightful, indeed, pathbreaking study of the interplay between religious and national identity in late nineteenth-century Central Europe." ---Anthony Steinhoff, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Neither German nor Pole examines how the inhabitants of one of Europe's most densely populated industrial districts managed to defy clear-cut national categorization, even in the heyday of nationalizing pressures at the turn of the twentieth century. As James E. Bjork argues, the "civic national" project of turning inhabitants of Upper Silesia into Germans and the "ethnic national" project of awakening them as Poles both enjoyed successes, but these often canceled one another out, exacerbating rather than eliminating doubts about people's national allegiances. In this deadlock, it was a different kind of identification---religion---that provided both the ideological framework and the social space for Upper Silesia to navigate between German and Polish orientations. A fine-grained, microhistorical study of how confessional politics and the daily rhythms of bilingual Roman Catholic religious practice subverted national identification, Neither German nor Pole moves beyond local history to address broad questions about the relationship between nationalism, religion, and modernity.
New German Dance Studies offers fresh histories and theoretical inquiries that resonate across fields of the humanities. Sixteen essays range from eighteenth-century theater dance to popular contemporary dances in global circulation. In an exquisite trans-Atlantic dialogue that demonstrates the complexity and multilayered history of German dance, American and European scholars and artists elaborate on definitive performers and choreography, focusing on three major thematic areas: Weimar culture and its afterlife, the German Democratic Republic, and recent conceptual trends in theater dance._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Maaike Bleeker, Franz Anton Cramer, Kate Elswit, Susanne Franco, Susan Funkenstein, Jens Richard Giersdorf, Yvonne Hardt, Sabine Huschka, Claudia Jeschke, Marion Kant, Gabriele Klein, Karen Mozingo, Tresa Randall, Gerald Siegmund, and Christina Thurner.
Jewish Students of Postwar Germany
Jewish Displaced Persons (DPs) survived in concentration and death camps, in hiding, and as exiles in the Soviet interior. After liberation in the land of their persecutors, some also attended university to fulfill dreams of becoming doctors, engineers, and professionals. In The New Life: Jewish Students of Postwar Germany, Jeremy Varon tells the improbable story of the nearly eight hundred young Jews, mostly from Poland and orphaned by the Holocaust, who studied in universities in the American Zone of Occupied Germany. Drawing on interviews he conducted with the Jewish alumni in the United States and Israel and the records of their Student Union, Varon reconstructs how the students built a sense of purpose and a positive vision of the future even as the wounds of the past persisted. Varon explores the keys to students’ renewal, including education itself, the bond they enjoyed with one another as a substitute family, and their efforts both to reconnect with old passions and to revive a near-vanquished European Jewish intelligentsia. The New Life also explores the relationship between Jews and Germans in occupied Germany. Varon shows how mutual suspicion and resentment dominated interactions between the groups and explores the subtle ways anti-Semitism expressed itself just after the war. Moments of empathy also emerge, in which Germans began to reckon with the Nazi past. Finally, The New Life documents conflicts among Jews as they struggled to chart a collective future, while nationalists, both from Palestine and among DPs, insisted that Zionism needed “pioneers, not scholars,” and tried to force the students to quit their studies. Rigorously researched and passionately written, The New Life speaks to scholars, students, and general readers with interest in the Holocaust, Jewish and German history, the study of trauma, and the experiences of refugees displaced by war and genocide. With liberation nearly seventy years in the past, it is also among the very last studies based on living contact with Holocaust survivors.