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Vol. 42 (2006) through current issue
The objective of Seminar is to propagate the scholarly and critical knowledge und understanding of Germanic Studies, meaning the study primarily of literature and culture of the German-speaking countries, and secondarily of literature and culture in other Germanic languages excluding English.
Coexistence and Violence in the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Borderlands
Shatterzone of Empires is a comprehensive analysis of interethnic relations, coexistence, and violence in Europe's eastern borderlands over the past two centuries. In this vast territory, extending from the Baltic to the Black Sea, four major empires with ethnically and religiously diverse populations encountered each other along often changing and contested borders. Examining this geographically widespread, multicultural region at several levels--local, national, transnational, and empire--and through multiple approaches--social, cultural, political, and economic--this volume offers informed and dispassionate analyses of how the many populations of these borderlands managed to coexist in a previous era and how and why the areas eventually descended into violence. An understanding of this specific region will help readers grasp the preconditions of interethnic coexistence and the causes of ethnic violence and war in many of the world's other borderlands both past and present.
Nietzsche and the Art of Virtue
In The Smile of Tragedy, Daniel Ahern examines Nietzsche’s attitude toward what he called “the tragic age of the Greeks,” and shows it to be the foundation not only for his attack upon the birth of philosophy during the Socratic era, but also for his overall critique of Western culture. Through an interpretation of “Dionysian pessimism” (the need to risk suffering and death), Ahern clarifies the ways in which Nietzsche sees ethics and aesthetics as inseparable and how their theoretical separation is at the root of Western nihilism. Ahern explains why Nietzsche, in creating this precursor to a new aesthetics, rejects Aristotle’s medicinal interpretation of tragic art and concentrates on Apollinian cruelty as a form of intoxication without which there can be no art. Ahern shows that Nietzsche saw the human body as the vessel through which virtue and art are possible, as the path to an interpretation of “selflessness,” as the means to determining an order of rank among human beings, and as the site where ethics and aesthetics are inseparable.
Sonnets to Orpheus is Rainer Maria Rilke's first and only sonnet sequence. It is an undisputed masterpiece by one of the greatest modern poets, translated here by a master of translation, David Young.
Rilke revived and transformed the traditional sonnet sequence in the Sonnets. Instead of centering on love for a particular person, as has many other sonneteers, he wrote an extended love poem to the world, celebrating such diverse things as mirrors, dogs, fruit, breathing, and childhood. Many of the sonnets are addressed to two recurrent figures: the god Orpheus (prototype of the poet) and a young dancer, whose death is treated elegiacally.
These ecstatic and meditative lyric poems are a kind of manual on how to approach the world - how to understand and love it. David Young's is the first most sensitive of the translations of this work, superior to other translations in sound and sense. He captures Rilke's simple, concrete, and colloquial language, writing with a precision close to the original.
Vacation, Magic, and the Attraction of Goethe
Wearied by his life as an administrator at the Duke’s court in Weimar, in 1786 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe departed unannounced in the middle of the night for what had been the destination of his imagination since childhood: Italy. His extended stay there dramatically affected his views of art, architecture, prose, poetry, and science. When he returned to Germany and Weimar, Goethe’s experiences translated into his life and work in ways that influenced countless others as they developed Germany’s own brand of high culture. The Spell of Italy: Vacation, Magic, and the Attraction of Goethe tracks the peculiar space Italy occupies in the cultural consciousness of German writers by reconsidering the Italian journeys of Goethe and Winckelmann and the legacy of those journeys in the works of Heine, Nietzsche, Freud, Mann, Carossa, and Bachmann. Author Richard Block contests previous assumptions about Italy as a place to encounter classical culture and creative rebirth. His study examines the degree to which Germany’s literary and cultural traditions appropriated a phantasmic Italy, showing how Winckelmann’s art history and Goethe’s Italian journey predisposed later writers to search for an aesthetic ideal in Italy that did not exist, and how their search for this absent ideal eventually resulted in disillusionment and deception. Building on previous work on Goethe, literary theory, and cultural history, The Spell of Italy offers compelling new ways of understanding Germany’s fascination with Italy from the eighteenth century to its troubled political history of the twentieth century.
Liberalism and the Antisemitism Dispute in Bismarck's Germany
Refugees, Americans, and a German Town, 1945-1952
In 1936, the Nazi state created a massive military training site near Wildflecken, a tiny community in rural Bavaria. During the war, this base housed an industrial facility that drew forced laborers from all over conquered Europe. At war's end, the base became Europe's largest Displaced Persons camp, housing thousands of Polish refugees and German civilians fleeing Eastern Europe. As the Cold War intensified, the US Army occupied the base, removed the remaining refugees, and stayed until 1994. Strangers in the Wild Place tells the story of these tumultuous years through the eyes of these very different groups, who were forced to find ways to live together and form a functional society out of the ruins of Hitler's Reich.
World War II, The Holocaust, and Rural Judaism
Sussen Is Now Free of Jews offers a close look at the legacy of a few Jewish families from Sussen-a village in the District of Goppingen, which is located in the state of Baden Wurttemberg in southern Germany. The author, Gilya Gerda Schmidt, looks at this rural region through the lens of two Jewish families-the Langs and the Ottenheimers-who settled there in the early twentieth century. As a child, she shared with the Langs the same living space for just a few months. She remembers her mother's telling her of the Jews who lived in Sussen until the Holocaust. More than thirty years later, in a used bookstore in Knoxville, Tennessee, the author accidentally found documentation verifying the Jewish presence in a book about the surviving Jews of Wurttemberg. In it, she found confirmation that there had been Jews living in Sussen until the Holocaust. For the first time, she had the proof she needed to look into the reality behind this lingering mystery. Here began her detective-like journey to find out what happened to the Jews of Sussen. A decade of research into local and regional archives ensued, and this very penetrating study is the result. In it, the author attempts to shed light on not just the original question of what happened to the two families during the Holocaust but also on a host of other questions: What was it like to be Jewish in rural southern Germany a century ago? What were the Jewish traditions of this region? What were the relations between Jews and Christians before the Holocaust? And where did those family members who were able to escape or who survived the concentration camps go when they left Sussen or Goppingen? Few witnesses came forward, yet the documents in the archives spoke volumes. This micro-history records the not-so-romantic journey of two Jewish families who lived in the Fils Valley. The study also addresses issues of being an American prisoner of war; of resuming life after the Holocaust; of the bureaucratic nightmare of requisitions, restitution, and reparations; and of life in America. This unique book will be of interest to a general readership and is an important book for scholars in German and Holocaust studies.
An Artist's Coming of Age in the Third Reich
Berlin 1939. A few months after Kristallnacht, eighteen-year old Irene Spicker tries to flee to Belgium but ends up in a Nazi prison. Freed after a few weeks, she tries again—this time, in the dark of night, she successfully crosses the frontier. The Germans invaded Belgium, and Irene was forced into hiding. Constantly on the move, she worked as a farmhand, at one point using false identity papers. Arrested by the Gestapo, she sat in a cellar prison cell destined for transport to Auschwitz. To calm her fears, she made a small detailed drawing of her hand which was to save her life. Incarcerated in the concentration camp in Mechlen, she was assigned to paint signs, posters and numbers for her co-prisoners to wear around their necks. This is Irene Awret’s story of her first twenty-five years, from coming of age in a middle-class Jewish family to Mechlen where she met the young sculptor Azriel Awret, to liberation and freedom once more.
Copublished with Dryad Press.