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Against the backdrop of an insurgent far right and numerous deadly neo-Nazi attacks, various cultural practitioners have written far-right violence into Germany’s collective memory and imagined more inclusive futures in its wake. This volume explores contemporary examples from literature, music, theatre, film, television and art that respond to this situation. They demonstrate that, alongside the ways in which art expands the public sphere in terms of what is said and who is heard, aesthetic questions of how artistic works are presented are a crucial part of how they open up new perspectives.
Romantic Anti-Capitalism and the Invention of the Proletariat
Translator:
In the early 19th century, a new social collective emerged out of impoverished artisans, urban rabble, wandering rural lower classes, bankrupt aristocrats and precarious intellectuals, one that would soon be called the proletariat. But this did not yet exist as a unified, homogeneous class with affiliated political parties. The motley appearance, the dreams and longings of these figures, torn from all economic certainties, found new forms of narration in romantic novellas, reportages, social-statistical studies, and monthly bulletins. But soon enough, these disorderly, violent, nostalgic, errant, and utopian figures were denigrated as reactionary and anarchic by the heads of the labour movement, since they did not fit into their grand linear vision of progress. In this book, Patrick Eiden-Offe tells their story, tracing the making of the proletariat in Vörmarz Germany (1815–1848) through the writings of figures like Ludwig Tieck, Moses Hess, Wilhelm Weitling, Georg Weerth, Friedrich Engels, Louise Otto-Peters, Ernst Willkomm, and Georg Büchner, and in so doing, revealing a striking similarity to the disorderly classes of today.
Author:
The book offers a critical account of how utopian thinking became defeated as a tool of philosophy whose explicit objective has been to not only analyse but emancipate the world. While such philosophy was originally inseparable from ideas of a radically better society it aimed to realise, many of its most influential practitioners today object to the use of utopian ideas. Countering this scepticism, the book argues in favour of utopian thinking. By elucidating a concept of utopia freed of its alleged pitfalls, the book contends that utopian thinking indeed presents an important resource for achieving emancipatory social goals.
Conversations with Jewish Refugees from Germany and Austria
In Émigré Voices Lewkowicz and Grenville present twelve oral history interviews with men and women who came to Britain as Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria in the late 1930s. Many of the interviewees rose to great prominence in their chosen career, such as the author and illustrator Judith Kerr, the actor Andrew Sachs, the photographer and cameraman Wolf Suschitzky, the violinist Norbert Brainin, and the publisher Elly Miller. The narratives of the interviewees tell of their common struggles as child or young adult refugees who had to forge new lives in a foreign country and they illuminate how each interviewee dealt with the challenges of forced emigration and the Holocaust. The voices of the twelve interviewees provide the reader with a unique and original source, which gives direct access to the lived multifaceted experience of the interviewees and their contributions to British culture.
Contemporary and Historical Interventions in Blake and Brecht
Author:
In Towards a Productive Aesthetics: Contemporary and Historical Interventions in Blake and Brecht, Keith O’Regan mobilises a constellative approach to compare the political-aesthetic strategies of William Blake (1757-1827) and Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956). O’Regan traces two similar trajectories in each author’s work: an exploration of how capitalist domination defines conjunctures, and an investigation of how historical figures, themes and terrains illustrate past failures or losses that can be cleaved open for radical possibilities in the present. Brecht and Blake posit an “oppositional aesthetics of the now” that articulates a theory of experience under capitalism, while counter-posing an oppositional form of existence.
Cultural Politics between the Second and Third Internationals
The German Left and Aesthetic Politics examines the articulation of contending materialist aesthetic practices within the ideological fractures of the German Left between the Second and Third International. It is hinged on the major literary critical contributions of Franz Mehring, representative of the Second, and Karl Wittfogel and Georg Lukacs representing the Third. Both parties focussed on the bourgeois revolutionary cultural heritage and how it might provide examples for emulation. However, post the 1918 November Revolution a radical politically avant-garde challenged that tradition, and through figures like the Berlin Dadaists, Piscator’s proletarian theatre and later Brecht, with contributions from dissident Marxist intellectuals, like Karl Korsch and Fritz Sternberg, asked other questions and proposed other answers. Revisiting the contexts and contents of these exchanges allows one to understand the serious role allocated to the cultural in constructing the ‘third pillar of socialism’, its integrative dimension.
A Socio-Economic Analysis of a Religious Community in Eighteenth-Century Saxony
Based on hundreds of archival documents, Christina Petterson offers an in-depth analysis of the community building process and individual and collective subjectification practices of the Moravian Brethren in eighteenth-century Herrnhut, Eastern Germany between 1740 and 1760.
The Moravian Brethren are a Protestant group, but Petterson demonstrates the relevance of their social experiments and practices for early modernity by drawing out the socio-economic layers of the archival material. In doing so, she provides a non-religious reading of categories that become central to liberal ideology as the Moravians negotiate the transition from feudal society to early capitalism. As such The Moravian Brethren in a Time of Transition combines archival analysis with socio-economic change.
Author:
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.
Seventy Years of History as Seen Through German Courts
Author:
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.