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Kritik: German Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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Kritik: German Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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Disciplining Germany

Youth, Reeducation, and Reconstruction after the Second World War

Jaimey Fisher

During Hitler’s reign, the Nazis deliberately developed and exploited a youthful image and used youth to define their political and social hierarchies. After the war, with Hitler gone but still requiring cultural exorcism, many intellectuals, authors, and filmmakers turned to these images of youth to navigate and negotiate the most difficult questions of Germany’s recent, nefarious past. Focusing on youth, education, and crime allowed postwar Germans to claim one last realm of sovereignty against the Allies’ own emphatic project of reeducation. Youth, reeducation, and reconstruction became important sites for the occupied to confront not only the recent past, but to negotiate the present occupation and, ultimately, direct the future of the German nation. Disciplining Germany analyzes a variety of media, including literature, news media, intellectual history, and films, in order to argue that youth and education played a central role in Germany’s coming to terms with the Nazi past. Although there has been a recently renewed interest in Germany’s coming to terms with the past, this attention has largely ignored the role of youth and reeducation. This lacuna is particularly perplexing given that the Allies’ reeducation project became, in many ways, a cipher for the occupational project as a whole. Disciplining Germany opens up the discussion and points toward more general conclusions not only about youth and education as sites for wider socio-political and cultural debates but also about the complexities of occupation and the intertwining of different national cultures. In this investigation, the study attends to both “high” and “low” cultural text—to specialized versus popular texts—to examine how youth was mobilized across the generic spectrum. With these interdisciplinary approaches and timely interventions, Disciplining Germany will find a diverse readership, including upper-division and graduate courses in German studies and German history as well as those general readers interested in Nazi Germany, cultural history, film and literary studies, youth culture, American studies, and post-conflict and occupational situations.

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Foreign Words

Translator-Authors in the Age of Goethe

Susan Bernofsky

The turn of the nineteenth century was a particularly fertile period in the history of translation theory and practice. With an unprecedented number of works being carefully translated and scrutinized, this era saw a definite shift in the dominant mode of translation. Many translators began attempting, for the first time, to communicate the formal characteristics, linguistic features, and cultural contexts of the original text while minimizing the paraphrasing that distorted most eighteenth-century translations. As soon as these new rules became the norm, authorial translators—defined not by virtue of being authors in their own right but by the liberties they took in their translations—emerged to challenge them, altering translated texts in such a way as to bring them into line with the artistic and thematic concerns displayed in the translators’ own “original” work. In the process, authorial translators implicitly declared translation an art form and explicitly incorporated it into their theoretical programs for the poetic arts. Foreign Words provides a detailed account of translation practice and theory throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, linking the work of actual translators to the theories of translation articulated by Goethe, Wilhelm von Humboldt, and, above all, Friedrich Schleiermacher. Employing a variety of critical approaches, author Susan Bernofsky discusses in depth the work of Kleist, Hölderlin, and Goethe, whose virtuoso translations raise issues that serve to delineate a theory of translation that has relevance at the turn of the twenty-first century as well. Combining a broad historical approach with individual readings of the work of several different translators, Foreign Words paints a full picture of translation during the Age of Goethe and provides all scholars of translation theory with an important new perspective.

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The Spell of Italy

Vacation, Magic, and the Attraction of Goethe

Richard Block

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.

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Time’s Visible Surface

Alois Riegl and the Discourse on History and Temporality in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna

Michael Gubser

Alois Riegl’s art history has influenced thinkers as diverse as Erwin Panofsky, Georg Lukacs, Walter Benjamin, Paul Feyerabend, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari. One of the founders of the modern discipline of art history, Riegl is best known for his theories of representation. Yet his inquiries into the role of temporality in artistic production—including his argument that art conveys a culture’s consciousness of time—show him to be a more wide-ranging and influential commentator on historiographical issues than has been previously acknowledged. In Time’s Visible Surface, Michael Gubser presents Riegl’s work as a sustained examination of the categories of temporality and history in art. Supported by a rich exploration of Riegl’s writings, Gubser argues that Riegl viewed artworks as registering historical time visibly in artistic forms. Gubser’s discussion of Riegl’s academic milieu also challenges the widespread belief that Austrian modernism adopted a self-consciously ahistorical worldview. By analyzing the works of Riegl’s professors and colleagues at the University of Vienna, Gubser shows that Riegl’s interest in temporality, from his early articles on calendar art through later volumes on the Roman art industry and Dutch portraiture, fit into a broad discourse on time, history, and empiricism that engaged Viennese thinkers such as the philosopher Franz Brentano, the historian Theodor von Sickel, and the art historian Franz Wickhoff. By expanding our understanding of Riegl and his intellectual context, Time’s Visible Surface demonstrates that Riegl is a pivotal figure in cultural theory and that fin-de-siècle Vienna holds continued relevance for today’s cultural and philosophical debates.

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Words from Abroad

Trauma and Displacement in Postwar German Jewish Writers

Katja Garloff

When Paul Celan was charged with plagiarism in 1960, the ensuing public debate in West Germany threw the poet into a major personal crisis even though most German critics immediately came to his defense. This crisis coincided with a transformative moment in the history of Holocaust remembrance, its first generational reimagining in the wake of a number of highly publicized criminal trials. Words from Abroad takes its lead from this disjunction between public ritual and private crisis to chart the emergence of a new literary diaspora, examining German Jewish writers who were dislocated in the course of World War II and began rewriting their own displacement more than a decade after the war. The idea of diaspora had ceased to be a constructive element of Jewish culture in Germany during the nineteenth-century process of emancipation and assimilation, though this book argues that it becomes crucial in articulating the possibility of German Jewish identity after the Holocaust. Along with the works of Paul Celan, Words from Abroad examines selected German Jewish writers such as Peter Weiss and Nelly Sachs. The study of these authors is framed by theoretical reflections on the play of distance and proximity in German Jewish intellectuals after the Holocaust, including Theodor W. Adorno, Jean Améry, and Günther Anders. Drawing on postcolonial theory, diaspora studies, trauma theory, and psychoanalytical theory, author Katja Garloff offers an original and nuanced reading of the way in which these writers, in the wake of the Holocaust, experienced and variously created a vision of dispersion as both traumatic and productive. Words from Abroad is an important tool in investigating the works of these German Jewish writers and thinkers, but it is also a contribution to the interdisciplinary scholarship on trauma and displacement itself.

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