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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.
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.
Charlotte Salomon and an Archive of Suicide
Charlotte Salomon's (1917-43) fantastical autobiography, Life? or Theater?, consists of 769 sequenced gouache paintings, through which the artist imagined the circumstances of the eight suicides in her family, all but one of them women. But Salomon's focus on suicide was not merely a familial idiosyncrasy. Nothing Happened argues that the social history of early-twentieth-century Germany has elided an important cultural and social phenomenon by not including the story of German Jewish women and suicide. This absence in social history mirrors an even larger gap in the intellectual history of deeply gendered suicide studies that have reproduced the notion of women's suicide as a rarity in history. Nothing Happened is a historiographic intervention that operates in conversation and in tension with contemporary theory about trauma and the reconstruction of emotion in history.
The European Novel and the German Book, 1680–1730
Many early novels were cosmopolitan books, read from London to Leipzig and beyond, available in nearly simultaneous translations into French, English, German, and other European languages. In Novel Translations, Bethany Wiggins charts just one of the paths by which newness-in its avatars as fashion, novelties, and the novel-entered the European world in the decades around 1700. As readers across Europe snapped up novels, they domesticated the genre. Across borders, the novel lent readers everywhere a suggestion of sophistication, a familiarity with circumstances beyond their local ken.
Into the eighteenth century, the modern German novel was not German at all; rather, it was French, as suggested by Germans' usage of the French word Roman to describe a wide variety of genres: pastoral romances, war and travel chronicles, heroic narratives, and courtly fictions. Carried in large part on the coattails of the Huguenot diaspora, these romans, nouvelles, amours secrets, histoires galantes, and histories scandaleuses shaped German literary culture to a previously unrecognized extent. Wiggin contends that this French chapter in the German novel's history began to draw to a close only in the 1720s, more than sixty years after the word first migrated into German. Only gradually did the Roman go native; it remained laden with the baggage from its "French" origins even into the nineteenth century.
Impasses of the Public Sphere from Hobbes to Habermas
This book revises the concept of the public sphere by examining opinion as a foundational concept of modernity. Indispensable to ideas like public opinionand freedom of opinion,opinion-though sometimes held in dubious repute-here assumes a central position in modern philosophy, literature, sociology, and political theory, while being the object of extremely contradictory valuations. Kirk Wetters focuses on interpretative shifts begun in the Enlightenment and cemented by the French Revolution to restore the concept of opinionto a central role in our understanding of the political public sphere. Locke's law of opinion,underwritten by the ancient conceptions of nomos and fama, proved to be inconsistent with the modern ideal of a rational political order. The contemporary dynamics of this problem have been worked out by Jrgen Habermas and Reinhart Koselleck: for Habermas the private law of opinion can be brought under the rational control of public discourse and procedural form, whereas Koselleck views modernity as the period in which irrational potentials were unleashed by a political-conceptual language that only intensified and accelerated the upheavals of history. Modernity risked making opinions into the idols of collective representations, sacrificing opinion to ideology and individualism to totalitarianism. Drawing on an intriguing range of thinkers, some not widely known to American readers today, Kirk Wetters argues that this transformation, though irreversible, is resisted by literary language, which opposes the rigid formalism that compels individuals to identify with their opinions. Rather than forcing thought to bind itself to stable opinions, modern literary forms seek to suspend this moment of closure and representation, so that held opinions do not bring all deliberative processes to a standstill.
Orientalism and the Figure of the Jew proposes a new way of understanding modern Orientalism. Tracing a path of modern Orientalist thought in German across crucial writings from the late eighteenth to the mid twentieth centuries, Librett argues that Orientalism and anti-Judaism are inextricably entangled._x000B_Librett suggests, further, that the Western assertion of “material” power, in terms of which Orientalism is often read, is overdetermined by a “spiritual” weakness: an anxiety about the absence of absolute foundations and values that coincides with Western modernity itself. The modern West, he shows, posits an Oriental origin as a fetish to fill the absent place of lacking foundations. This fetish is appropriated as Western through a quasi-secularized application of Christian typology. Further, the Western appropriation of the "good" Orient always leaves behind the remainder of the "bad," inassimilable Orient. _x000B_The book traces variations on this theme through historicist and idealist texts of the nineteenth century, and then shows how high modernists like Buber, Kafka, Mann, and Freud place this historicist narrative in question. The book concludes with the outlines of a cultural historiography that would distance itself from the metaphysics of historicism, confronting instead its underlying anxieties. _x000B_
DEFA Fairy-Tale Films
From Paul Verhoeven’s The Cold Heart in 1950 to Konrad Petzold’s The Story of the Goose Princess and Her Loyal Horse Falada in 1989, East Germany’s state-sponsored film company, DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft), produced over forty feature-length, live-action fairy-tale films based on nineteenth-century folk and literary tales. While many of these films were popular successes and paved the way for the studio’s other films to enter the global market, DEFA’s fairy-tale corpus has not been studied in its entirety. In The Politics of Magic: DEFA Fairy-Tale Films, Qinna Shen fills this gap by analyzing the films on thematic and formal levels and examining their embedded agendas in relation to the cultural politics of the German Democratic Republic. In five chapters, Shen compares the films with earlier print versions of the same stories and analyzes revisions made in DEFA’s film adaptations. She also distinguishes the DEFA fairy-tale films from National Socialist, West German, and Disney adaptations of the same tales. Her archival work reconstitutes the cultural-historical context in which films were produced and received, and incorporates the films into the larger narrative of DEFA. For the first time, the banned DEFA fairy-tale comedy, The Robe (1961/1991), is discussed in depth. The book’s title The Politics of Magic is not intended to suggest that DEFA fairy-tale films were merely mouthpieces of official ideology and propaganda. On the contrary, Shen shows that the films run the gamut from politically dogmatic to implicitly subversive, from kitschy to experimental. She argues that the fairy-tale cloak permitted them to convey ideology in a subtle, indirect manner that allowed viewers to forget Cold War politics for a while and to delve into a world of magic where politics took on an allegorical form. The fact that some DEFA fairy-tale films developed an international audience (particularly The Story of Little Mook and Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella) not only attests to these films’ universal appeal but also to the surprising marketability of this branch of GDR cinema and its impact beyond the GDR’s own narrow temporal and geographic boundaries. Shen’s study will be significant reading for teachers and students of folklore studies and for scholars of German, Eastern European, cultural, film, media, and gender studies.
Feminism and the Postmodern in West German Literature and Film
Richard McCormick examines the concepts of postmodernity and postmodernism as they apply to West Germany, discussing them against the background of cultural and political upheaval in that country since the 1960s, rather than exclusively in the more familiar setting of intellectual history. Considering six literary and cinematic texts that are marked by a preoccupation with the self and subjectivity, he underscores the crucial influence of feminism on writers and filmmakers--and on the "postmodern." In a broad international context he describes the conflicting forces that affected the West German student movementthe rationalistic tradition of the Weimar Left and more "irrational" influences such as French existentialism and surrealism (as well as the American "Beat" movement and rock & roll)--and shows how these forces played themselves out so that dogmatic Marxist Leninism was repudiated in favor of a "New Subjectivity.".
At the center of the discussion are the novels Lenz by Peter Schneider, Class Love (Klassenliebe) by Karin Struck, and Devotion by Botho Strauss, and the films Wrong Move written by Peter Handke and directed by Wim Wenders, Germany, Pale Mother by Helma Sanders-Brahms, and The Subjective Factor by Helke Sander. The author shows how ongoing attempts to attack the separation of emotion from reason, life from art, the private from the public, and the personal from the political brought about changes in outlook, from the 1960s to the early 1980s, that are related to the rise of new political movements--ecology, nuclear disarmament, and feminism.
Originally published in 1991.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
What makes stories about portraits so gripping and unsettling? Portrait Stories argues that it is _x000B_the ways they problematize the relation between subjectivity and representation. _x000B_Through close readings of short stories and novellas by Poe, James, Hoffmann, Gautier, Nerval, Balzac, Kleist, Hardy, Wilde, Storm, Sand, and Gogol, the author shows how the subjectivities of sitter, painter, and viewer are produced in relation to representations shaped by particular interests and power relations, often determined by gender as well as by class. She focuses on the power that can accrue to the painter from the act of representation (often at the expense of the portrait’s subject), while also exploring how and why this act may threaten the portrait painter’s sense of self. Analyzing the viewer’s relation to the portrait, she demonstrates how portrait stories problematize the very act of seeing and with it the way subjectivity is constructed in the field of vision.