GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW: Volume XXXII, Number 3 (October 2009)
    Schiller’s "An die Freude" and the Question of Freedom

    Gail K. Hart
    University of California, Irvine

    In the year of his 250th birthday, Friedrich Schiller, “poet of freedom,” is almost brand-identified with freedom in the popular imagination, despite his vexed and elusive framing of the concept in articulations that allow for restriction and even coercion. This identification complicates the reception of “An die Freude,” which is, thanks to Beethoven, Schiller’s most recognized piece, indeed an international sensation that transcends German Studies. A persistent strain in scholarly and popular writing holds that it was first written as “An die Freiheit,” and imparts to the Dionysian joy of Schiller’s ode both political and revolutionary resonance. In November 1989, the poet of freedom took center stage at another of this year’s anniversary events.
    From Grids to Vanishing Points:
    W. G. Sebald’s Critique of Visual-Representational Orders in Die Ringe des Saturn

    Richard T. Gray
    University of Washington

    W. G. Sebald’s Die Ringe des Saturn develops its own peculiar indictment of Enlightenment rationality. This critique manifests itself as an interrogation of two prominent rationalizing strategies introduced into the visual arts in the modern age: the grid as a mechanism for parceling out and representing visual space; and the vanishing point, which organizes objects in a relational scheme that creates an illusion of depth. Juxtaposing illustrations that manifest these visual-representational techniques with deliberations on the destructive consequences of rigid rational systems, Sebald’s text both argues for, and mirrors in its own compositional strategies, a dialectical balance between entropic chaos and hyperrational order. His narrator’s successful negotiations of labyrinthine structures emblematize a discourse able to maneuver between the myopia of proximity and the sterile taxonomy afforded by the bird’s-eye view.
    Mourning Comrades:
    Communist Funerary Rituals in Cologne during the Weimar Republic

    Sara Ann Sewell
    Virginia Wesleyan College

    Employing a repertoire of militant symbols and rituals, communists commemorated their fallen with a martial pageantry that contributed decisively to the mounting political antagonisms during the waning years of the Weimar Republic. Communist mourning culture began in 1919 with the funerals for slain leaders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, which established a prototype of mourning that was widely deployed to remember other comrades. By demonstrating that communist culture exalted regimentation and discipline, this essay positions itself between historical interpretations that emphasize cadre obedience and those that highlight members’ autonomy.
    Gustav Freytag’s Bilder aus der deutschen Vergangenheit
    and the Meaning of German History

    Larry L. Ping
    Southern Utah University

    The historian could not find a better source for the Prussian liberal sensibility during the Gründerzeit and the Kulturkampf than Gustav Freytag’s Bilder aus der deutschen Vergangenheit. Although political historians have inexplicably ignored the Bilder, Freytag’s history remains a primary document of cultural Protestantism as well as a liberal, alternative military history of Prussia. This essay reclaims the political grand narrative contained in that important but often-neglected work of popular cultural history and restores it to its proper place in Prussian historiography—a reassessment that is long overdue.
    Normativität und Transgression: Kleists Prinz Friedrich von Homburg
    und die obszöne Unterseite des Gesetzes

    Dominik Finkelde
    Hochschule für Philosophie, München

    Heinrich von Kleist reveals in his play Prinz Friedrich von Homburg that the division between a rational normativity of law that protects society and an irrational violence that puts society in peril is an illusion. For Kleist law incorporates both dimensions to hold society together. It incorporates a normative, neutral, and objective frontside and an obscene, hidden underside. The latter has to emerge from time to time, to give society the collective feeling of enjoyment. This discourse lays bare what the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek calls “split law” or “nightly law.”
    Vom alternativen Laden zum Dienstleistungsbetrieb: the Berliner Geschichtswerkstatt.
    A Case Study in Activist Memory Politics

    Jenny Wüstenberg
    University of Maryland

    The citizens’ initiative Berliner Geschichtswerkstatt (BGW) was founded in 1981 and profoundly influenced memory politics in (West) Berlin. Through cooperative work, new research methods, and an explicit goal of political engagement, the new left activists sought to shake up established views of history. Though internal disputes over the need for professionalization and state cooperation have contributed to its decline, the BGW has successfully institutionalized some of its key principles. This case study not only illustrates the impact of the “history movement” in the Federal Republic, but also points to the importance of examining non-elite participants in memory politics more generally.
    Leopold von Schroeder’s Imagined India:
    Buddhist Spirituality and Christian Politics During the Wilhelmine Era

    Perry Myers
    Albion College

    Since the late eighteenth century, India had served as a backdrop for German intellectuals to project stressful cultural transformations in Germany. Thus an 1876 play by the Indologist Leopold von Schroeder (1851–1920), König Sundara, embraced Buddhism at the height of the Kulturkampf in an attempt to reconstitute spirituality under threat. Yet a decade later the same author denigrated Buddhism and Eastern thought vis-à-vis Christianity in an adamant readoption of Christian historical mandates. This suggests that much of the famed German fascination with the high culture and religions of India was “Orientalist” and yielded swiftly to a militant reassertion of Christianity in a climate of growing colonialist consciousness.
    “Originalnatur” in Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre

    Michael E. Auer
    Indiana University

    Although Foucauldian discourse analysis has offered some of the most innovative readings of Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre, its presuppositions stand on shaky ground. A closer look at the structure and contents of Goethe’s last novel does not bear out the (largely unspoken) assumption that the work functions just as the Lehrjahre-tower does. Here, the piecemeal text is not held together by a central institution that would, or could, provide closure, let alone a secularized providence. Instead, Goethe’s “little book” archives novellistic moments of rupture that are volatile and evasive, but full of promise—a promise that Wilhelm calls “original nature.”
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