Contemplating Violence

Critical Studies in Modern German Culture


This volume illuminates the vexed treatment of violence in the German cultural tradition between two crucial, and radically different, violent outbreaks: the French Revolution, and the Holocaust and Second World War. The contributions undermine the notion of violence as an intermittent or random visitor in the imagination and critical theory of modern German culture. Instead, they make a case for violence in its many manifestations as constitutive for modern theories of art, politics, identity, and agency. While the contributions elucidate trends in theories of violence leading up to the Holocaust, they also provide a genealogy of the stakes involved in ongoing discussions of the legitimate uses of violence, and of state, individual, and collective agency in its perpetration. The chapters engage the theorization of violence through analysis of cultural products, including literature, museum planning, film, and critical theory. This collection will be of interest to scholars in the fields of Literary and Cultural Studies, Critical Theory, Philosophy, Gender Studies, History, Museum Studies, and beyond.
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Table of contents

Stefani Engelstein and Carl Niekerk: Introduction. Violence, Culture, Aesthetics: Germany 1789–1938
The Other Side of Modernity: War and the French Revolution
Stephanie M. Hilger: Sara’s Pain: The French Revolution in Therese Huber’s Die Familie Seldorf (1795–1796)
Stefani Engelstein: The Father in Fatherland: Violent Ideology and Corporeal Paternity in Kleist
Jeffrey Grossman: Fractured Histories: Heine’s Responses to Violence and Revolution
Imagining the Primitive; the Return of the Repressed
Laurie Johnson: The Curse of Enthusiasm: William Lovell and Modern Violence
Lynne Tatlock: Communion at the Sign of the Wild Man
Carl Niekerk: Constructing the Fascist Subject: Violence, Gender, and Sexuality in Ödön von Horváth’s Jugend ohne Gott
Violence in the Age of Globalization; German Culture and Its Others
Barbara Fischer: From the Emancipation of the Jews to the Emancipation from the Jews: On the Rhetoric, Power and Violence of German-Jewish “Dialogue”
Mark Christian Thompson: The Negro Who Disappeared: Race in Kafka’s Amerika
Claudia Breger: Performing Violence: Joe May’s Indian Tomb (1921)
Modernism, Modernization, and Representation
Lutz Koepnick: The Violence of the Aesthetic
Patrizia McBride: Montage and Violence in Weimar Culture: Kurt Schwitters’ Reassembled Individuals
Peter M. McIsaac: Preserving the Bloody Remains: Legacies of Violence in Austria’s Heeresgeschichtliches Museum


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