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  • Author or Editor: May Mergenthaler x
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This essay explores the concepts and practices of culture and the public sphere that Wieland, Goethe, and Schiller outline and realize in their journals, letters, and other writings. The background of this investigation is the ongoing debate in Germany about the function of a majority culture, based on a national tradition, in a multi-cultural, democratic society. The investigation of the three authors’ concepts and practices of both the public sphere and publishing demonstrates that majority cultures can be conceived in a variety of ways that can be more or less compatible with a liberal society. In their journals, Die Horen and Propyläen, Schiller and Goethe, respectively, are speaking to an ideal public, with the support of a select number of like-minded authors, aiming at the establishment of a national, symbolically structured culture and education (Bildung) that shows affinities to absolutist political structures. By contrast, Wieland opens his Der Teutsche Merkur up to a variety of contributors and readers, which are conceived and accepted as fallible, though teachable, with the goal of furthering the development, over a long period of time, of a national culture that is, at the same time, universal and timeless, thereby questioning the concept of nationhood.

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