German Studies Review: Volume 34, Number 2 (May 2011)
    Wilder’s Dietrich: Witness for the Prosecution in the Context of the Cold War

    Steffen Hantke
    Sogang University, Seoul

    The two collaborations between Billy Wilder and Marlene Dietrich—A Foreign Affair (1948) and Witness for the Prosecution (1957)—are landmarks in developing and fixing postwar national stereotypes of Germany in the American collective imagination. Unlike its precursor, however, Witness for the Prosecution speaks specifically to American Cold War anxieties, examining scenarios of betrayal, disloyalty, and duplicity against the national need for transparent, reliable, and morally defensible alliances. Curbing his trademark satiric nihilism, Wilder frames Dietrich’s exotic and enigmatic remoteness as an opportunity to confirm the moral integrity and solidity of American Cold War alliances.
    “… immerzu Krieg”: History, Intertextuality and the Memoir of Günter Grass

    Richard Erich Schade
    University of Cincinnati

    In Mein Jahrhundert (1999), Günter Grass presents war as the central determinant of twentieth-century history. Chapters 1914-1918 present putative conversations between Ernst Jünger and Erich Maria Remarque, novelists of World War I. Chapters 1939–1945 depict correspondents reminiscing about their wartime experiences. Grass’ fictionalizing and intertextual strategies effectively distance the speakers from an accurate representation of history. The chapter of the memoir Beim Häuten der Zwiebel (2006) detailing Grass’ service in the Waffen-SS adopts similar strategies. He instrumentalizes Grimmelshausen’s novel Simplicissimus (1668), early modern fiction, effectively distancing himself from historical and autobiographical truth statement.

    Benjamin Franklin, Student of the Holy Roman Empire: His Summer Journey to Germany in 1766 and His Interest in the Empire’s Federal Constitution

    Jürgen Overhoff
    University of Hamburg/University of Regensburg

    Hitherto neither historians nor Americanists have paid much attention to Franklin’s 1766 journey to Germany. Yet his trip to the Holy Roman Empire was of the utmost importance for him as he sought to learn as much as possible about the constitutional structure of this old European body politic. He planned his tour months ahead, making sure to meet Johann Stephan Pütter, the leading authority on German constitutional law. It was Pütter’s understanding of the Empire as a federation that attracted Franklin’s interest at a time when he was looking for a model for a union of the American colonies.
    Von angezogenen Affen und angekleideten Männern in Baja California:
    Zu einer Bewertung der Schriften Alexander von Humboldts aus postkolonialer Sicht

    Sabine Wilke
    University of Washington

    Alexander von Humboldt traveled through South America on his legendary journey between 1799 and 1804. After his return he documented the findings in a great variety of media including a multi-volume travel report, a collection of maps, personal impressions of the nature and cultures encountered, and essays about the geography of New Spain. The chapter on Baja California from his Mexico-Werk shows his entanglement with the European colonization process as he is relying solely on missionary sources. However, his inclusion of descriptions of indigenous reactions to missionary rule complicates this simple identification of Humboldt with the European colonial mentality.
    The Christian Love of the German Middle Class: Thuringia, 1870–1912

    Edward Mathieu
    Beloit College

    At the heart of the German Bürgertum’s claims to moral authority as an apolitical “natural aristocracy” was an idea of Christian love designed to distinguish them from others—Catholics, foreign heathens, and the proletariat. Gendered ideas of Christian love enabled the bourgeoisie to harmonize activism aimed at uplifting the masses with a defense of the bourgeois order from those lower orders. In their efforts to remake Germany, the concept of Christian love let the Bürgertum embrace optimism about modernization and hopes for achieving a bourgeois utopian vision without fear of a dissolution of the bourgeois order, of the dangerous masses, of revolution.
    Anti-Bourgeois Novels with Bourgeois Readers:
    “Justifying” Violence in German Volunteer Corps Novels

    Rainer Godel
    Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

    German free corps novels from the 1920s and 1930s deal with the issue of how to legitimate the violence they depict. In order to make German violence plausible for their bourgeois readers, the authors adapt a broad range of diverse narrative strategies from civil and martial law, mythology, and even religious contexts. These narratives correspond to those Walter Benjamin, in his contemporary essay “Zur Kritik der Gewalt,” had criticized for being inadequate to legitimate violence. However, these narratives open up a bourgeois audience to the free corps novels.
    The Tastes of Home: Cooking the Lost Heimat in West Germany in the 1950s and 1960s

    Alice Weinreb
    Northwestern University

    The intense interest in cooking and eating that helped to define the first two postwar decades of the Federal Republic were not, as has often been claimed, a move away from the political sphere. Instead, this culinary discourse directly engaged with some of the most controversial issues of the day: the relationship between the German past and the German present, the validity of the Oder-Neiße border, the cultural definition of the German nation, and the integration of ethnic German expellees from Eastern Europe into West Germany.
    Popkultur, Profit und das Banale:
    Stefan Raabs Erfolgssong „Maschendrahtzaun“ und der lächerliche Ossi

    Gabriele Eckart
    Southeast Missouri State University

    Ten years after Germany’s reunification, the composer Stefan Raab produced the successful country-song “Wire-mesh Fence”, based on a quarrel between two East German neighbors concerning a wire-mesh fence and a snowberry bush. This developed into an extremely popular media event, in which the fence owner Regina Zindler was mercilessly ridiculed. The question arises: did the criticism of many Germans concerning the popular marketing reflect in any way the Western attitude of looking at East Germany as a “backward colony”?
    Minority Identity as German Identity in Conscious Rap and Gangsta Rap:
    Pushing the Margins, Redefining the Center

    Kathrin Bower
    University of Richmond

    After rap entered the German music scene in the 1980s, it developed into a variety of styles that reflect Germany’s increasingly multiethnic social fabric. Politically conscious rap assumed greater relevance after unification, focusing on issues of discrimination, integration, and xenophobia. Gangsta rap, with its emphasis on street conflict and violence, brought the ghetto to Germany and sparked debates about the condition of German cities and the erosion of civic consciousness. Alternately celebrated and reviled by the media, both styles utilize rap’s synthesis of authenticity and performance to redefine the relationship between minority identity and German identity and debunk Leitkultur.
    Nietzsche’s Decadent Will and große Gesundheit:
    Psychology, Sexualized maladies de volonté, and große Politik

    John H. Smith
    University of California, Irvine

    The concept of the “will” is a critical nodal point in Nietzsche’s mature philosophy, where discursive strands from the diverse fields of psychology, forensic medicine, sexology, and political theory intersect. What Nietzsche absorbed from his readings and worked into his own thinking were the widespread conceptions of the “degenerate” or “decadent” male will, the maladies de volonté. While these concepts often framed and limited his horizon, Nietzsche also sought to render them ironic and overcome them at the individual and cultural level by means of parallel conceptions of “große Gesundheit” and “große Politik.”
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