GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW: Volume XXX, Number 1 (February 2007)
    Master Narratives beyond Postmodernity:
    Germany’s “Separate Path” in Historiographical-Philosophical Light

    William W. Hagen
    University of California, Davis

    This essay assesses the configuration or emplotment of twentieth-century German history on display in important recent synoptic works. This affords an opportunity to reflect on the strength, in the aftermath of German reunification, of the long-influential concept of Germany’s “special path” (Sonderweg). Because this concept has often figured as a “master narrative” of modern German history, the question arises whether, in the light of various post-structuralist critiques, such large-scale historical interpretations are epistemologically admissible. The essay argues that, in non-exclusivist form, master or grand narratives are justifiable and necessary, but also that those it analyzes here do not persuasively encompass contemporary German circumstances.
    Between Contemplation and Distraction:
    Configurations of Attention in Walter Benjamin

    Carolin Duttlinger
    Wadham College, Oxford University

    Although Benjamin is best known for his advocacy of distraction (Zerstreuung) as the perceptual stance most appropriate for modernity, the contrasting concept of attention (Aufmerksamkeit) plays a similarly central, yet still more complex role in his thought, where it mediates between his earlier, religiously informed writings and his later political agenda. While attention underlies his assessment of different cultural-historical configurations and their impact on human perception and experience, it also takes on an important self-reflexive character, as its critical exploration refers back to Benjamin’s own theoretical approach, which relies on a particular, highly mobile form of attentiveness for its critical insights and response.
    Three Decades of Protest in Berlin Land-Use Planning, 1975–2005

    Carol Hager
    Bryn Mawr College

    Protest mobilization is often assumed to be temporary. This is not the case in Germany, as a look at grassroots mobilization in Berlin reveals. Protest arose there in the 1970s, as in Germany generally, over siting of a large energy project. Activists attacked not only the project itself, but also the legitimacy of the technocratic policymaking that produced it. Subsequent government efforts to streamline land-use planning have kept the legitimation issue alive. Lacking an institutional home for citizen participation in planning, protesters in Berlin and elsewhere continue to play a vital role in forcing policymakers to take residents’ views seriously.
    Goethes Volksbegriff und Habermas’ Begriff der ‚Lebenswelt’:
    Die Kultur der norditalienischen Städte in der Italienischen Reise

    Norbert Puszkar
    Austin Peay State University

    Goethe’s concept of Volk in the Italian Journey owes a great deal to Herder. However, the first weeks of the journey impressed on Goethe the importance of public life and communicative interaction. Habermas’ concept of Lebenswelt is used in this article to elucidate the underlying structure of Goethe’s observations. In Italy, he perceived Volk not as an identity-centered nation but as an interactive human society. The Volk of the northern Italian cities is a public that argues and negotiates meanings and acts in daily life, thereby recreating traditional and generating new conventions on a horizon of understanding and interaction.
    Narrating Empire: Die Gartenlaube and Germany’s Nineteenth-Century Liberal Expansionism

    Matthew Fitzpatrick
    University of New South Wales

    Contrary to widespread belief that naval power and overseas colonies were anathema to the liberal conception of the German nation, both were in fact essential to the national-liberal understanding of what characterized a successful nation-state. An analysis of a wide variety of contributions in Ernst Keil’s ostensibly apolitical periodical Die Gartenlaube illustrates how this liberal vision of the German nation-state as a first-rank Weltmacht was endorsed in popular cultural discussions of the role and future of the German nation abroad during the “pre-colonial” era.
    Goodbye Wenders: Lola Rennt as German Film Manifesto

    Muriel Cormican
    University of West Georgia

    A close reading of the visual, thematic, and textual similarities between Lola rennt and Der Himmel über Berlin suggests an anxiety of influence on the part of Tom Tykwer. Himmel functions as a subtext and contrastive foil in Tykwer’s 1998 film. Read in the context of Tykwer’s declarations about cinema in general, these references, together with his presentation of Lola as the embodiment of what cinema should be, indicate that this film represents part of his articulation of a manifesto for contemporary and future German cinema, a cinema that defines itself in friendly opposition to the tendencies of the New German Cinema.
    Scales of Justice:
    The Vetting of Former East German Police and Teachers in Saxony, 1990–1993

    Katy A. Crossley-Frolick
    DePaul University

    East Germany’s transition to democracy was accompanied by extensive vetting in the public sector to examine individuals’ past ties to the SED and the Stasi. In delegating the task to the state level, the particular social and political contexts of implementation became paramount. Differences resulted both between the new Länder and across professional groups. Such outcomes are particularly evident in the cases of teachers and police. Compared to the other Länder, Saxony earned the reputation for being quite harsh when it came to vetting individuals. Micro-level actors and policy-making at the state level are important for understanding these varied outcomes.
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