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Fragile Minds and Vulnerable Souls Cover

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Fragile Minds and Vulnerable Souls

The Matter of Obscenity in Nineteenth-Century Germany

By Sarah L. Leonard

Fragile Minds and Vulnerable Souls investigates the creation of "obscene writings and images" as a category of print in nineteenth-century Germany. Sarah L. Leonard charts the process through which texts of many kinds—from popular medical works to stereoscope cards—were deemed dangerous to the intellectual and emotional lives of vulnerable consumers. She shows that these definitions often hinged as much on the content of texts as on their perceived capacity to distort the intellect and inflame the imagination.

Leonard tracks the legal and mercantile channels through which sexually explicit material traveled as Prussian expansion opened new routes for the movement of culture and ideas. Official conceptions of obscenity were forged through a heterogeneous body of laws, police ordinances, and expert commentary. Many texts acquired the stigma of immorality because they served nonelite readers and passed through suspect spaces; books and pamphlets sold by peddlers or borrowed from fly-by-night lending libraries were deemed particularly dangerous. Early on, teachers and theologians warned against the effects of these materials on the mind and soul; in the latter half of the century, as the study of inner life was increasingly medicalized, physicians became the leading experts on the detrimental side effects of the obscene. In Fragile Minds and Vulnerable Souls, Leonard shows how distinctly German legal and medical traditions of theorizing obscenity gave rise to a new understanding about the mind and soul that endured into the next century.

Franz Kafka Cover

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Franz Kafka

Narration, Rhetoric, and Reading

Edited by Jakob Lothe, Beatrice Sandberg, and Ronald Speirs

Franz Kafka: Narration, Rhetoric, and Reading presents essays by noted Kafka critics and by leading narratologists who explore Kafka’s original and innovative uses of narrative throughout his career. Collectively, these essays by Stanley Corngold, Anniken Greve, Gerhard Kurz, Jakob Lothe, J. Hillis Miller, Gerhard Neumann, James Phelan, Beatrice Sandberg, Ronald Speirs, and Benno Wagner examine a number of provocative questions that arise in narration and narratives in Kafka’s fiction. The arguments of the essays relate both to the peculiarities of Kafka’s story-telling and to general issues in narrative theory. They reflect, for example, the complexity of the issues surrounding the “somebody” doing the telling, the attitude of the narrator to what is told, the perceived purpose(s) of the telling, the implied or actual reader, the progression of events, and the progression of the telling. As the essays also demonstrate, Kafka’s narratives still present a considerable challenge to, as well as a great resource for, narrative theory and analysis.

German Writing, American Reading Cover

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German Writing, American Reading

Women and the Import of Fiction, 1866-1917

In postbellum America, publishers vigorously reprinted books that were foreign in origin, and Americans thus read internationally even at a moment of national consolidation. A subset of Americans’ international reading—nearly 100 original texts, approximately 180 American translations, more than 1,000 editions and reprint editions, and hundreds of thousands of books strong—comprised popular fiction written by German women and translated by American women. German Writing, American Reading: Women and the Import of Fiction, 1866–1917 by Lynne Tatlock examines the genesis and circulation in America of this hybrid product over four decades and beyond. These entertaining novels came to the consumer altered by processes of creative adaptation and acculturation that occurred in the United States as a result of translation, marketing, publication, and widespread reading over forty years. These processes in turn de-centered and disrupted the national while still transferring certain elements of German national culture. Most of all, this mass translation of German fiction by American women trafficked in happy endings that promised American readers that their fondest wishes for adventure, drama, and bliss within domesticity and their hope for the real power of love, virtue, and sentiment could be pleasurably realized in an imagined and quaintly old-fashioned Germany—even if only in the time it took to read a novel.

Germany's Colonial Pasts Cover

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Germany's Colonial Pasts

Eric Ames

Germany’s Colonial Pasts is a wide-ranging study of German colonialism and its legacies. Inspired by Susanne Zantop’s landmark book Colonial Fantasies, and extending her analyses there, this volume offers new research by scholars from Europe, Africa, and the United States. It also commemorates Zantop’s distinguished life and career (1945–2001).
Some essays in this volume focus on Germany’s formal colonial empire in Africa and the Pacific between 1884 and 1914, while others present material from earlier or later periods such as German emigration before 1884 and colonial discourse in German-ruled Polish lands. Several essays examine Germany’s postcolonial era, a complex period that includes the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany with its renewed colonial obsessions, and the post-1945 era. Particular areas of emphasis include the relationship of anti-Semitism to colonial racism; respectability, sexuality, and cultural hierarchies in the formal empire; Nazi representations of colonialism; and contemporary perceptions of race. The volume’s disciplinary reach extends to musicology, religious studies, film, and tourism studies as well as literary analysis and history. These essays demonstrate why modern Germany must confront its colonial and postcolonial pasts, and how those pasts continue to shape the German cultural imagination.

Goethe and Judaism Cover

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Goethe and Judaism

The Troubled Inheritance of Modern Literature

Karin Schutjer

 In Goethe and Judaism, Schutjer aims to provide a broad, though by no means exhaustive, literary study that is neither apologetic nor reductive, that attends to the complexity and irony of Goethe’s literary work but takes his representations of Judaism seriously as an integral part of his thought and writing. She is thus concerned not simply with accusing or acquitting Goethe of prejudice but rather with discerning the function and logic of his relationship to Judaism, as seen within his work. Her premise is that Goethe’s conception of modernity—his anxieties as well as his most affirmative vision concerning the trajectory of his age—are deeply entwined with his conception of Judaism. Schutjer argues that behind his very mixed representations of Jews and Judaism stand crucial tensions within his own thinking and a distinct anxiety of influence. Indeed, Goethe, she contends, paradoxically wrestles against precisely those impulses in Judaism for which he feels the greatest affinity, which most approach his own vision of modernity. The discourse of wandering in Goethe’s work serves as a key site where Judaism and modernity meet.

Goethe's Allegories of Identity Cover

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Goethe's Allegories of Identity

By Jane K. Brown

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Goethe Yearbook

Vol. 1 (1982) through current issue

The Goethe Yearbook, first published in 1982, is the flagship publication of the Goethe Society and is dedicated to North American Goethe scholarship. The Yearbook invites submissions in English or German on Goethe, his works, his contemporaries, or the period 1770-1832 in general. For further information about back issues or manuscript submission, please visit http://www.goethesociety.org/pages/yearbook.html

Heidegger, Holderlin, and the Subject of Poetic Language Cover

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Heidegger, Holderlin, and the Subject of Poetic Language

Toward a New Poetics of Dasein

Jennifer Gosetti-Ferencei

Heidegger's interpretations of the poetry of Hlderlin are central to Heidegger's later philosophy and have determined the mainstream reception of Hlderlin's poetry. Gosetti-Ferencei argues that Heidegger has overlooked central elements in Hlderlin's poetics, such as a Kantian understanding of aesthetic subjectivity and a commitment to Enlightenment ideals. These elements, she argues, resist the more politically distressing aspects of Heidegger's interpretations, including Heidegger's nationalist valorization of the German language and sense of nationhood, or Heimat.In the context of Hlderlin's poetics of alienation, exile, and wandering, Gosetti-Ferencei draws a different model of poetic subjectivity, which engages Heidegger's later philosophy of Gelassenheit, calmness, or letting be. In so doing, she is able to pose a phenomenologically sensitive theory of poetic language and a new poetics of Dasein,or being there.

Hugo Von Hofmannsthal and the Austrian Idea: Cover

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Hugo Von Hofmannsthal and the Austrian Idea:

Selected Essays and Addresses, 1906-1927

Translated and Edited by David S. Luft

The Austrian writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929) was one of the great modernists in the German language, but his importance as a major intellectual of the early twentieth century has not received adequate attention in the English-speaking world. One distinguished literary scholar of his generation called Hofmannsthal a “spiritual-moral authority” of a kind German culture had only rarely produced. This volume provides translations of essays that deal with the Austrian idea and with the distinctive position of German-speaking Austrians between German nationalism and peoples to the East, whether in the Habsburg Monarchy or beyond it, as well as essays that locate Hofmannsthal’s thinking about Austria in relation to the broader situation of German and European culture. “It is the true accomplishment of this translation that Hofmannsthal’s language, recreated in a clear and elegant English, regains its melody of an earlier time. If there ever was a captivating documentation of the European potential of Austria beyond the stereotypes of “Vienna at 1900,” it has been brought together in this volume of essays that responded to the tragic challenges of World War I in a constructive way.” Frank Trommler, University of Pennsylvania

In the Place of Language Cover

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In the Place of Language

Literature and the Architecture of the Referent

Claudia Brodsky

The placein the title of Claudia Brodsky's remarkable new book is the intersection of language with building, the marking, for future reference, of material constructions in the world. The referentBrodsky describes is not something first found in nature and then named but a thing whose own origin joins language with materiality, a thing marked as it is made to begin with. In the Place of Language: Literature and the Architecture of the Referent develops a theory of the referentthat is thus also a theory of the possibility of historical knowledge, one that undermines the conventional opposition of language to the real by theories of nominalism and materialism alike, no less than it confronts the mystical conflation of language with matter, whether under the aegis of the infinite reproducibility of the image or the identification of language with Being.Challenging these equally naive views of language - as essentially immaterial or the only essential matter - Brodsky investigates the interaction of language with the material that literature represents. For literature, Brodsky argues, seeks no refuge from its own inherently iterable, discursive medium in dreams of a technologically-induced freedom from history or an ontological history of language-being. Instead it tells the complex story of historical referents constructed and forgotten, things built into the earth upon which history takes placeand of which, in the course of history, all visible trace is temporarily effaced. Literature represents the making of history, the building and burial of the referent, the present world of its oblivion and the future of its unearthing, and it can do this because, unlike the historical referent, it literally takes no place, is not tied to any building or performance in space. For the same reason literature can reveal the historical nature of the making of meaning, demonstrating that the shaping and experience of the real, the marking of matter that constitutes historical referents, also defers knowledge of the real to a later date. Through close readings of central texts by Goethe, Plato, Kant, Heidegger, and Benjamin, redefined by the interrelationship of building and language they represent, In the Place of Language analyzes what remains of actions that attempt to take the place of language: the enduring, if intermittently obscured bases, of theoretical reflection itself.

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