- Krieg und Frieden im 18. Jahrhundert: Kulturgeschichtliche Studien ed. by Stefanie Stockhorst
This volume collects the proceedings of the 2012 conference of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für die Erforschung des 18. Jahrhunderts, which took place in Potsdam during the festivities celebrating the tricentennial of the birth of Friedrich II. Hence, it is not at all surprising that among the essays presented here are several noteworthy attempts to fill in the gaps in the research concerning the [End Page 296] enlightened despot of Sanssouci. The essays that accompany these expositions of the philosopher-king’s battles on the page and the world stage are in some ways like the era they analyze. There are long lulls punctuated by bursts of scholarly erudition, seemingly tangential forays that come to naught, and an overall editorial strategy that might appear tailored to elicit a productive outcome but instead fails to marshal the chapters cogently.
The editorial strategy results in the volume being divided into four thematically organized sections containing a wide array of chapters. Stockhorst introduces the research presented in the volume with a chiasmic structure—how do people make war, and how does war make people—which ultimately provides very little enlightenment (26). There are several essays that do proffer genuinely new contributions to a field that has suffered from no lack of scholarly attention over the past few years. Holger Böning’s chapter, for example, expands on his previous work on the popular Enlightenment through an analysis of how the common soldier’s experience was reflected in texts written to encourage commoners to fight. Andrea Schmidt-Rösler’s contribution shares the results of a statistical study undertaken at the Universität Augsburg that analyzed the language of eighteenth-century peace treaties. She cleverly summarizes the study’s conclusion with the observation that there was a linguistic shift from the Latin pax to the French paix (430). In addition, the chapter by Angela Strauß argues for a reconsideration of the Patriotische Briefe by the field preacher Adolph Dietrich Ortmann, a text that has been tainted by its appropriation by the Nazis (563).
Essays by Christoph Willmitzer and Stephanie Dreyfürst deal with battlefield reporting, and a significant number of texts add a transnational dimension, including Sabine Volk-Birke’s essay on the English Jacobite uprising of 1745, Harald Heppner’s discussion of Austrian borders, Andreas Önnerfors’s account of the Anjala conspiracy in Sweden, and Hannah Spahn’s consideration of the early American Republic’s notion of its own relation to war and peace. Irmgard Egger’s chapter calls attention to the German soldiers who fought for the British in the American colonies. Other essays examine war financing (Iwan-Michelangelo D’Aprile), battlefield medicine (Robert Leventhal), sonic spaces in the eighteenth century (Marian Füssel, Manfred Heidler, and Laurenz Lütteken), and children’s literature (Sebastian Schmideler and Steffi Bahro). The essays by Marc André Bernier and Stefan W. Römmelt deal with Enlightenment authors’ choice of figures from antiquity as interlocutors and the two-hundredth anniversary of the Peace of Augsburg in 1755 respectively. Literary analyses are provided in Dirk Rose’s chapter on Lessing’s Briefe, die Neueste Litteratur betreffend, Robert Charlier’s chapter on Goethe’s Paläophron und Neoterpe, as well as in the chapter on Lenz’s Die Landplagen by Franz Fromholzer and Jörg Wesche. The chapter on church sermons by Johannes Birgfeld, whose Krieg und Aufklärung: Studien zum Kriegsdiskurs in der deutschsprachigen Literatur des 18. Jahrhunderts—an exhaustive study of the extent to which literary production was permeated by warfare—forms a useful complement to the texts presented in this volume and calls attention to an underexplored locus for future research. Among the chapters that deal with the Prussian monarch is Thomas Biskup’s superb essay on literary warfare via clandestine texts, which provides a corrective to research on the Prussian sovereign that has too often separated the Martian and Apollonian aspects of his output. Instead, Biskup shows that Friedrich II’s activities in the Republic of Letters cannot...