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Anna Seghers

The Challenge of History

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Edited by Helen Fehervary, Christiane Zehl Romero and Amy Kepple Strawser

Anna Seghers: The Challenge of History features essays by leading scholars devoted to this most important German writer whose novels and stories have been read by millions worldwide. The volume is intended for teachers and students of literature and for general readers. The contributions address facets of Seghers’s large body of work which is characterized by reflections on political events shaping world history and written in a highly imaginative array of narrative styles. The first section focuses on the author’s famous novel The Seventh Cross. Articles in the next two sections analyze her reactions to crises that marked the twentieth century and her connections to other relevant thinkers of her time. The last section features new translations of Seghers’s works.

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Edited by Efraim Podoksik

Doing Humanities in Nineteenth-Century Germany, edited by Efraim Podoksik, is a collaborative project by leading scholars in German studies that examines the practices of theorising and researching in the humanities as pursued by German thinkers and scholars during the long nineteenth century, and the relevance of those practices for the humanities today.
Each chapter focuses on a particular branch of the humanities, such as philosophy, history, classical philology, theology, or history of art. The volume both offers a broad overview of the history of German humanities and examines an array of particular cases that illustrate their inner dilemmas, ranging from Ranke’s engagement with the world of poetry to Max Weber’s appropriation of the notion of causality.

Ernst Bloch’s Speculative Materialism

Ontology, Epistemology, Politics

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Cat Moir

In Ernst Bloch’s Speculative Materialism: Ontology, Epistemology, Politics, Cat Moir offers a new interpretation of the philosophy of Ernst Bloch. The reception of Bloch’s work has seen him variously painted as a naïve realist, a romantic nature philosopher, a totalitarian thinker, and an irrationalist whose obscure literary style stands in for a lack of systematic rigour. Moir challenges these conceptions of Bloch by reconstructing the ontological, epistemological, and political dimensions of his speculative materialism. Through a close, historically contextualised reading of Bloch’s major work of ontology, Das Materialismusproblem, seine Geschichte und Substanz (The Materialism Problem, its History and Substance), Moir presents Bloch as one of the twentieth century’s most significant critical thinkers.

Law in West German Democracy

Seventy Years of History as Seen Through German Courts

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Hugh Ridley

Law in West German Democracy relates the history of the Federal Republic of Germany as seen through a series of significant trials conducted between 1947 and 2017, explaining how these trials came to take place, the legal issues which they raised, and their importance to the development of democracy in a country slowly emerging from a murderous and criminal régime. It thus illustrates the central issues of the new republic. If, as a Minister for Justice once remarked, crime can be seen as ‘the reverse image of any political system, the shadow cast by the social and economic structures of the day’, it is natural to use court cases to illuminate the eventful history of the Federal Republic’s first seventy years.

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Karl Kautsky

Edited by Ben Lewis

Once deemed ‘the pope of Marxism’, Karl Kautsky (1854–1938) was the leading theoretician of the German Social Democratic Party and one of the most prominent public intellectuals of his time. However, during the twentieth century a constellation of historical factors ensured that his ideas were gradually consigned to near oblivion. Not only has his political thought been dismissed in non-Marxist historical and political discourse, but his ideas are equally discredited in Marxist circles.
This book aims to rekindle interest in Kautsky’s ideas by exploring his democratic-republican understanding of state and society. It demonstrates how Kautsky’s republican thought was positively influenced by Marx and Engels – especially in relation to the lessons they drew from the experience of the Paris Commune.

Baroque

Figures of Excess in Seventeenth-Century European Art and German Literature

Peter J. Burgard

What is the Baroque? Where did it come from and where did it go? Why do we have to ask these questions? Because art historians seem largely satisfied with their answers and most scholars of German literature are not satisfied, yet have stopped asking.
This book discerns in the Baroque an aesthetic phenomenon that crosses both media and national boundaries in its celebration of excess and its disintegration of system, unity, and identity. The compositional principles and theoretical implications of the Baroque, as it first arose in Italian art, find expression in German poetics, drama, poetry, and narrative – expression accessible only through resolute close reading. Readings of Bernini, Borromini, Velázquez, Rubens, Fracanzano, and de Hooch precipitate readings of Opitz, Gryphius, Fleming, Zesen, Hoffmannswaldau, and Grimmelshausen, demonstrating that seventeenth-century German literature both is Baroque and confirms what the Baroque is.

Philosophizing Brecht

Critical Readings on Art, Consciousness, Social Theory and Performance

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Edited by Norman Roessler and Anthony Squiers

This anthology unites scholars from varied backgrounds with the notion that the theories and artistic productions of Bertolt Brecht are key missing links in bridging diverse discourses in social philosophy, theatre, consciousness studies, and aesthetics. It offers readers interdisciplinary perspectives that create unique dialogues between Brecht and important thinkers such as Althusser, Anders, Bakhtin, Benjamin, Godard, Marx, and Plato. While exploring salient topics such as consciousness, courage, ethics, political aesthetics, and representations of race and the body, it penetrates the philosophical Brecht seeing in him the never-ending dialectic—the idea, the theory, the narrative, the character that is never foreclosed. This book is an essential read for all those interested in Brecht as a socio-cultural theorist and for theatre practitioners.

Contributors: Kevin S. Amidon, José María Durán, Felix J. Fuch, Philip Glahn, Jim Grilli, Wolfgang Fritz Haug, Norman Roessler, Jeremy Spencer, Anthony Squiers, Peter Zazzali.

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Jeremy Spencer

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This intended paper will address the dialogue between Brecht’s theory and method and the authors associated with the development of so-called “Screen Theory” of the British film magazine Screen between 1971 and 1979. Authors such as Stephen Heath did not read Brecht to appeal to the authority of a person but to articulate a “truly dialectical practice” in a new situation, namely, the reflection on cinema and the intervention of the practice of film in ideology. Heath was concerned with how Brecht’s theory and practice could be used to understand film as an “ideological intervention” and therefore the “possible actuality” of Brecht’s dialectical work. This paper explores the actuality of Brecht’s ideas—his “critical lessons”—in the context of Screen, as part of the magazine’s defence of political modernism or the “politics of form,” how they were mobilised in relation to political cinema, semiotic theory, and psychoanalysis.

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José María Durán

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This essay explores the claim made by the so-called dialogical aesthetics that the emphasis of today’s socially engaged art lies on a modality of engagement and theatricality that follows the footsteps of the historical avant-garde. It asks if the framework of dialogism is an adequate one for the analysis of today’s socially engaged art practices that claim to be transformative. In searching for an answer, it examines the intersection of thinkers such as Brecht, Althusser, Voloshinov and Medvedev in the context of contemporary art practices.

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Philip Glahn

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This essay discusses Brecht’s “technics of aesthetics,” his attitude toward class struggle as the active engagement with the tools of intellectual-as-material production, as articulated through the playwright’s disdain for the passive politicking and complicit posturing of his contemporaries in the face of capitalist exploitation and fascist violence. Accusing the “Tuis” or “Tellekt-uell-ins,” including Thomas Mann, Andre Gide, Georg Lukacs, and the “Frankfurtists,” of wanting to save Geist and Kultur rather than addressing questions of ownership and power, Brecht instead sought a proletarian understanding of art as active contest over the mechanisms of representation and imagination, the devices that link the perception of the given to inscribed as well as latent histories and thus multiple, potential futures. Brecht’s attempt at determining a “useful” position of artistic agency and solidarity is traced through his writings on popular culture and communication apparatuses, his poetry, letters and plans to pen a “Tui-novel.”