dissertations in german studies 2015

Barton, Deborah. Writing for Dictatorship, Refashioning for Democracy: German Women Journalists in the Nazi and Post-War Press. University of Toronto, Department of History. Director: Doris Bergen. March 2015. Abstract:

This dissertation investigates how women journalists acted as professional functionaries in support of the National Socialist dictatorship, and later, a democratic West Germany. In both periods, women journalists achieved a level of importance that belied their small numbers. The Nazi regime wanted the public voice of these women, but it was to be–-at least officially—an innocuous, apolitical voice that did not stray beyond the boundaries of Nazi gender ideology. Press authorities strove to channel women journalists to the so-called feminine fields of local news, entertainment, and women’s issues. But these areas played a critical (and political) role in helping to maintain the stability of the regime. In their transition to the postwar press, women journalists utilized Nazi gender rhetoric to suggest that discrimination and feminized harmless writing distanced them from National Socialist propaganda. Both the German and the international media demonstrated an interest for such narratives. This study considers the impact of women journalists’ personal and professional postwar writing and investigates how the narrative they collectively created of their journalistic roles in the Third Reich proved useful to the reconstruction of the press, Germany’s memory culture, and its processes of identity building in the post war years.

Berg, Scott. Empire of Faith: Confessionalism, Toleration, and the Politics of Religious Pluralism in the Habsburg Empire, 1792-1867. Louisiana State University, History Department. Director: Suzanne Marchand. March 2015. Abstract:

Religious toleration and confessionalism were complex issues, with deep roots and numerous unresolved enduring legacies in the nineteenth century, especially in the German states. My dissertation studied confessionalism and religious toleration in the Habsburg Empire from 1792 until 1867 and argued that the Austrian Empire in this period, until 1848, was a non-confessional state and one that strove to institutionalize religious toleration. This project analyzed the state’s day-to-day interactions with Protestants, Jews, Orthodox Christians and Greek Catholics. Officials mediated conflict in such contentious questions as mixed marriages and conversions and reined in zealous Catholics. The government’s policies aimed at taming religious passions, which could become unpredictable and incite riots. Above all, the goal was stability, but religious toleration was instrumental to that stability. For the only time in its history, the Habsburg monarchy was a non-confessional state during these years, and it expanded the boundaries of toleration. Catholicism had traditionally been a pillar of Habsburg governance, and it was one that the new regime would again lean upon after the upheaval of the 1848 revolutions.

Boyle, Mary. To Be A Pilgrim: A Comparative Study of Late Medieval Accounts of Pilgrimage from Germany and England to the Holy Land. Merton College, University of Oxford (Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages). Advisors: Annette Volfing, Helen Moore. November 2015. Abstract:

This project compares the Jerusalem pilgrimage accounts of two Germans (Bernhard von Breydenbach, 1486; Arnold von Harff, 1499) and two Englishmen (William Wey, c.1470; Richard Guylforde’s chaplain, 1511). The project treats these works as literary texts and considers the pilgrimages created in writing. These texts, like their authors, illuminate different aspects of the literature of pilgrimage in the late Middle Ages. I investigate the ways in which pilgrimage was conceptualised at this time, concluding that it was a practice without geographical boundaries or limitations, which could be entered into through reading, writing, or re-enactment, as well as through literal travel. The Franciscan-directed uniformity with which the pilgrimage experience is presented is crucial, leading to its taking on an almost liturgical status. This conclusion is reached through an exploration of identity construction in the texts; along with an analysis of the audiences and their uses of the texts, both secular and religious; and through a consideration of the role played by the authors’ geographical origins.

Chen, Yi. A Phenomenological Approach to Comparison: The Non-Metaphorical Poetics of Paul Celan and Wang Wei. Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Toronto. Directors: John Zilcosky, Graham Sanders, John Noyes. March 2015. Abstract:

This dissertation explores the grounds of comparison, and what makes comparison meaningful, through an encounter between Paul Celan (1920-1970), the pre-eminent post-war poet of the German language, and Wáng Wéi (701-761), one of the master poets of the Táng Dynasty when classical Chinese poetry was at its peak. A traditional approach to comparison would seek to establish certain “common denominators” by applying pre-given historical, cultural or linguistic influences as commensurable categories of analysis. However, the aesthetic qualities of both Celan’s and Wáng Wéi’s poems resist reduction to categories in common and thus defies the very notion of commensurability. I have instead employed insights from the phenomenological tradition – ranging from Husserl to Heidegger, Gadamer and Merleau-Ponty – to illuminate the complexity of the poets’ similar positions, specifically their non-metaphorical poetics, resulting in contrapuntal dialogues between different ideas and expressions that are grounded in their respective cultural background. Developing from Husserl’s “transcendental inter-subjectivity”, my approach in particular applies Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of body to comparison. I, therefore, pursue three phenomenological concepts derived from Celan’s poetics: Begegnung (Encounter), Ort (Site), and Licht (Light). Begegnung calls for an immanent alterity that formulates the condition of comparison; Ort indicates the site of Begegnung i.e. its context and circumstances, and Licht illuminates the consequences. Establishing counterparts from Chinese literary aesthetics in a dialogical analysis, I examine the poets’ deep affinities in their poetic landscapes. Despite the separation of these literary works across epochs, continents and cultures, comparison in a phenomenological paradigm allows us to see more about these works than if they were regarded in isolation. As comparison and translation are intricately related, I include multiple translations and conclude with a discussion of how my phenomenological approach to comparison can be applied to the practice of translation as well.

Delle Luche, Jean-Dominique. Le plaisir des bourgeois et la gloire de la ville. Sociétés et concours de tir dans les villes du Saint-Empire, XVe-XVIe siècles. [Shooting societies and shooting contests, 15th-16th centuries]. Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (mention Histoire et Civilisations), Paris. Supervisor: Pierre Monnet. November 2015. Abstract:

The work focuses on the management of the burghers' military duties and their martial, yet playful sport practices, in city-controlled shooting societies or in interurban marksmen contests, in the Holy Roman Empire (especially Upper Germany and Switzerland) in the 15th and 16th centuries. Three different urban history fields are investigated : i) urban guilds, ii) relationships between social groups and urban government, and iii) relationships between cities. Shooting contests constitute a very original exemplification of urban and regional networks, especially in a time period that sees the development of residential towns, the decline of imperial cities, the spreading of festival literature and printed materials, as well as cultural transfers. After a necessary historiographic survey. the second section reveals the importance of shooting weapons for urban society. In the third section, we discuss the Schützengesellschaften, the relation with the authorities, and how the marksmen's identities were shaped by the use a reserved spaces, specific schedules and their common memories. The variety of the contests's purposes is evaluated through the example of the Swiss confederation and the involvement of princes, as well as regional customs.The last section is the analysis of about thousand shooting contests, revealing standardisation and competitive processes.

Eicher, John. Now Too Much for Us: German and Mennonite Transnationalisms, 1874-1944. University of Iowa, History. Directors: H. Glenn Penny, Elizabeth Heineman. August 2015. Abstract:

The central question guiding my research is: How do groups of people fashion collective narratives as nations, religions, and diasporas? I answer this question by tracing the movements of two groups of German-speaking Mennonites. One was composed of 1,800 voluntary migrants and the other was composed of 1,500 refugees. The groups originated in nineteenth-century Russia, took separate paths through Canada and Germany, and settled in two separate colonies near Paraguay’s Bolivian border in 1926 and 1930. Along the way they engaged seven governments and two aid agencies, which either desired or required their loyalty. I show that the Mennonites used biblical concepts such as “wandering” and “exile” and German nationalist myths to create their collective narratives. This process led the voluntary migrants to more firmly assert their opposition to nationalism and the refugees to embrace German National Socialism. My project advances two overarching theses: 1) It argues that diasporic groups harnessed the global spread of nationalism and ecumenicism to secure evolving local objectives and create local mythologies. 2) It argues that governments and aid organizations used diasporic groups for their own purposes by portraying them as enemies or heroes in their evolving national and religious mythologies.

Eichler, Jeremy. The Emancipation of Memory: Arnold Schoenberg and the Creation of ‘A Survivor from Warsaw. Columbia University, Department of History. Director: Volker Berghahn. February 2015. Abstract:

This is a study of the ways in which the past is inscribed in sound. It is also an examination of the role of concert music in the invention of cultural memory in the wake of the Second World War. And finally, it is a study of the creation and early American reception of A Survivor from Warsaw, a cantata written in 1947 that became the first major musical memorial to the Holocaust. It remains uniquely significant and controversial within the larger oeuvre of its composer, Arnold Schoenberg. Historians interested in the chronologies and modalities of Holocaust memory have tended to overlook music’s role as a carrier of meaning about the past. And yet, A Survivor from Warsaw predated almost all of its sibling memorials, crystallizing and anticipating the range of aesthetic and ethical concerns that would define the study of postwar memory and representation for decades to come. Ultimately, this study seeks to articulate an under-examined linkage between modernism and memory, while arguing methodologically for the importance of sound in the contemporary practice of cultural history.

Fisher, Gaëlle. Locating Germanness: Bukovina and Bukovinians after the Second World War. University College London, History. Directors: Mary Fulbrook, Wendy Bracewell. January 2015. Abstract:

This dissertation explores experiences and narratives of self-identifying Bukovinians, ethnic Germans and German-speaking Jews from the historical region of Bukovina, after the Second World War. As such, it compares how the members of two groups with radically different wartime experiences dealt with the legacies of displacement, guilt, complicity and violence. It focuses on the respective processes of constructing belonging in new contexts (primarily West Germany and Israel), compensating for the past in social, legal and psychological terms and establishing biographical coherence against the backdrop of a changing world. It takes a long- term view of these developments (1944-2014) and a broad range of cultural manifestations into account by drawing on sources ranging from conventional archives to oral history interviews and online content. It thereby shows that Bukovina has been point of convergence for different, changing and constantly interacting discourses and practices and therefore says something not only about the case at hand and the complex reverberations of the Second World War, but also about the way meaning is generated in modern society in general.

Glatthorn, Austin. The Theatre of Politics and the Politics of Theatre: Music as Representational Culture in the Twilight of the Holy Roman Empire. University of Southampton; Humanities & Music. Directors: Thomas Irvine, Mark Everist, Francesco Izzo, Bruce Alan Brown. September 2015. Abstract:

This thesis explores political music in the waning years of the Holy Roman Empire (c.1775-1806). In a departure from studies that focus primarily on the music of Habsburg territories (above all Vienna), my work examines institutions crucial to the political fabric of Central Europe to tell the musical story of the Holy Roman Empire. I frame my narrative within Joachim Whaley’s recent study of the Reich, which challenges the long-held assertion that the Empire was in a state of terminal decline after 1648, to reveal not only how individual sovereigns projected allegiance to the Empire through music, but also how music articulated the politics of the Holy Roman Empire. A series of case studies investigate political opera composed across the Reich, the music of the emperor’s representative to the Reichstag in Regensburg, the rise and fall of the archbishop-elector of Mainz’s Nationaltheater, and the music of the final imperial coronations in Frankfurt am Main in 1790 and 1792. In conclusion, I demonstrate that the Reich was a state that identified itself as such through music. By shifting focus from the Habsburgs to the Holy Roman Empire, this thesis offers a new understanding of a familiar period of music history.

Griffiths, Craig. Gay Politics in 1970s West Germany. Queen Mary, University of London; History. Spervisor: Christina von Hodenberg. June 2015. Abstract:

Taking politics in its widest sense, this thesis focuses on ways of thinking and talking about homosexuality in the first decade after (partial) decriminalisation. Drawing on sources ranging from sociological data and opinion polls to the commercial gay press, activist magazines, films, the mainstream media, unpublished letters and oral history interviews, I offer a comprehensive account of gay activism in the decade. In so doing, gay liberation in West Germany is placed in its socio-political context; namely, the changing face of homosexual life in the 1970s. Case studies include the insecure place of sexual politics within the New Left, the relevance of the National Socialist past to the 1970s present (with a focus on the pink triangle), the emotional politics of gay activism, and debates over respectability and representations of gay desire. Above all, my thesis reveals continuities and ambiguities in homosexual politics; the ambivalence of gay liberation.

Hanß, Stefan. Lepanto als Ereignis: Dezentrierende Geschichte(n) der Seeschlacht von Lepanto (1571). Free University of Berlin, Department of History and Cultural Studies (Friedrich- Meinecke-Institute). Directors: Claudia Ulbrich, Ulinka Rublack. Spring 2015. Abstract:

Lepanto has been referred to as a victory of ‘Christian Europe’ by various protagonists throughout the centuries in order to strengthen their own ideological views. Thus, the battle serves to demonstrate an imagined dichotomy of a ‘Christian’ and ‘Muslim culture’ that often is defined by an essentialist and ahistorical approach. This narrative even influenced the way how the battle has been thematised within historiography. Historians often imagined Lepanto as a turning point in history or, in reverse, denied its event character as the battle did not fundamentally transform underlying, historical structures. As structures are the results of human practices, I focus on the event making of Lepanto. Instead of asking if the battle has been an event (or has been not), I examine how the contemporaries shaped this événement humain by refering to the battle as an event. Decentering the history of Lepanto then shows that the battle has not been an event of separation and dichotomy, but rather of affiliation and participation. Beyond the military happening, the historical importance of Lepanto was its character as a social event.

Jany, Christian. Scenographies of Perception: Recasting the Sensuous in Hegel, Novalis, Rike, Proust. Princeton University, German Department. Directors: Brigid Doherty. Claudia Brodsky. January 2015. Abstract:

[No abstract received]

Körner, Birgit M. “Hebräische” Avantgarde – Else Lasker-Schülers Poetologie im Kontext des Kulturzionismus. Justus-Liebig-Universität, Giessen, Institut für Germanistik. Advisors: Joachim Jacob (Giessen), Alfred Bodenheimer (Basel). March 2015. Abstract:

Das Gesamtwerk von Else Lasker-Schüler ist durch eine umfassende Auseinandersetzung mit dem kulturzionistischen Diskurs geprägt. Ebenso steht der deutschsprachige Kulturzionismus (bes. Martin Buber) den historischen Avantgarden nahe. In freiwilliger Assoziation und kritischer Überschreitung entwirft Lasker-Schüler ihre Poetologie einer „Hebräischen Avantgarde“. Im Frühwerk nimmt sie dabei kulturzionistische Metaphorik, Thematik und Graphik auf und entwickelt eine weibliche bis androgyne orientalisierte ‚Identität‘ als jüdische Dichterin. Ab 1912 entfaltet Lasker-Schüler im Kontext des Kulturzionismus ihr eigenes poetologisches Projekt einer Erneuerung der jüdischen Tradition. Es ist als Fortsetzung rabbinischer Hermeneutik in Literatur angelegt.

Korpi, Sarah. “We Were Always Brothers”: Natives of the Americas in (East) German Children’s Literature. University of Wisconsin-Madison; German. Director: B. Venkat Mani. May 2015. Abstract:

A brief survey of modern German hobbies, plays, school celebrations, and juvenile literature reveals a surprising presence: the American Indian. The American Indian is a character that appears to have been based on representations of natives of the Americas, and the frequency of events and texts centered around the Indianer points toward an unexpected and ongoing fascination with the historical tribes of the Americas. Rather than functioning as a cultural other, the Indianer seems to be a figure that is somehow specifically tribal and German. The juvenile texts considered in this project begin to show how the Indianer, who might be expected to function as a cultural other, works to define Germanness outside of social and political upheaval in the eastern portion of modern Germany. The imagined Indianer have, over the course of the century, achieved hero status in the consciousness of their readers, making them imagined national folk heroes in a region in which a proud national identity and historical national folk heroes was otherwise problematic. Taking existing accuracy debates as a point of departure, this project explores the genres and the depictions of Indianer protagonists to begin to explore the role of the Indianer figure in German society.

Kühnle, Nina. Wir, Vogt, Richter und Gemeinde – Städtewesen, städtische Führungsgruppen und Landesherrschaft im spätmittelalterlichen Württemberg (1250–1534). Christian-Albrechts- Universität Kiel, Historisches Seminar. Directors: Oliver Auge (Kiel), Sigrid Hirbodian (Tübingen). January 2015. Abstract:

Seit den Forschungen Hansmartin Decker-Hauffs gilt die württembergische „Ehrbarkeit“, definiert als vom Landesherrn ausgeformte Funktionselite stadtbürgerlicher Herkunft, als Spezifikum der städtereichen südwestdeutschen Grafschaft. In Abkehr von diesem in seiner Argumentation problematischen und daher längst revisionsbedürftigen Konzept widmet sich die vorliegende Dissertation den urbanen Eliten Württembergs, die von der engen territorialen Einbindung ihrer Städte in das administrative Gefüge der Grafschaft profitierten und ihre Aktionsradien in der Folge erheblich auszubauen vermochten. Abonniert auf die höchsten Ämter innerhalb ihrer Städte und Verwaltungsbezirke, wirtschaftlich vermögend, verwandtschaftlich vernetzt, in Teilen universitär gebildet und auch geistliche Karrierewege anstrebend, bot sich diesen Gruppen mit den aufkommenden Landtagen ab der Mitte des 15. Jahrhunderts die Möglichkeit zur politischen Partizipation. Nach anfänglicher Kooperation unter Graf Eberhard im Bart waren die Beziehungen zu den Landesherren jedoch von Konflikten überschattet, die von der Absetzung Herzog Eberhards II. 1498 über den Aufstand des Armen Konrad 1514 bis hin zur Vertreibung Herzog Ulrichs durch den Schwäbischen Bund 1519 reichten.

Lörincz, Gudrun. Werk und Theorie im Dialog. Grenzüberschreitungen in der Poetologie und Positionierung Herta Müllers. Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germanistisches Institut. Advisor: Andrea Jäger. Juli 2015. Abstract:

Die Dissertation bringt Deutungsmuster der Zeitgeschichte mit Herta Müllers Werk in einen Frage- und Antwortzusammenhang. Sie geht den kulturtheoretischen Impulsen nach, die Müllers Texte aktivieren und erweitert Müllers Werk, indem sie Aspekte wie den Kontext, die Rezeption, die Produktion oder die Edition in die Analyse miteinbezieht. Dabei ist Müllers Gesamtwerk, betrachtet als das gleichberechtigte Zusammenspiel von faktualen und fiktionalen Texten gleichzeitig Gegenstand der Untersuchung und Ort der theoretischen Verhandlungen. Müllers autofiktionales Werk wird in der vorliegenden Dissertationsschrift als die Neukonzeption der Diskursbeziehung zwischen Subjekt, Text und Medialität definiert. In ihm wird die Trennbarkeit referenzieller und fiktionaler Bereiche hinterfragt und es werden – auf der ästhetisch-diskurstheoretischen und politisch-moralischen Ebene – verschiedene kulturelle, geschichtliche und subjektbezogene Betrachtungsweisen praktiziert. Dabei wird über eine an sich fremde, hybride und mehrsprachige Sprache ein translingualer Verhandlungsraum hergestellt, eine komplexe Netz-Collage, in der die verschiedenen Netzstücke nach einem Rhizomprinzip mithilfe verschiedener Knotenpunkte das Werk zusammenhalten. Gudrun Lörincz zeigt, dass Herta Müllers Werk wichtige Bereiche des Migrantendaseins thematisiert und die festgefrorenen, aber längst nicht mehr aktuellen und zeitgemäßen Sichtweisen über Identitäten ins Wanken bringt. Durch seine Beschaffenheit plädiert es gegen Homogenität und Kohärenz und verdeutlicht, dass Widersprüchlichkeit und Grenzüberquerung Grundeigenschaften der heutigen Zeit sind.

Margain, Constance. L’Internationale des gens de la mer (1930-1937): Activités, parcours militants et résistance au nazisme d’un syndicat communiste de marins et dockers. Le Havre University, History. Directors: Mario Kessler, John Barzman. April 2015. Abstract:

Thema meiner Arbeit steht die Untersuchung eines kommunistischen Gewerkschaft: die Internationale der Seeleute und Hafenarbeiter (ISH), die abhängig von der Roten Gewerkschafts- Internationalen (RGI, die russische Bezeichnung ist Profintern) war. Die ISH wurde 1930 gegründet und 1937 gemeinsam mit der Profintern aufgelöst.

McCorkle, Brooke. Searching for Wagner in Japan. University of Pennsylvania, Music. Director: Carolyn Abbate. February 2015. Abstract:

The reception of Richard Wagner’s works would seem of obvious relevance to the social and political development of modern Japan, considering the infamous political ties between Germany and Japan in the first half of the twentieth century. However, the topic has yet to receive significant academic attention. My project remedies this lack in scholarship by interrogating the role of Wagner in Japanese cultural history from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Within the one hundred and fifty year time span, Japan transitioned from a samurai government to an imperial nation-state, underwent a process of rapid modernization, and suffered defeat in World War II before finally ascending as a global economic power. Over this time, the contradictory qualities that characterize Wagner’s works and ideas resonated with Japan’s own historical experience. In order to clarify how Wagner’s operas and philosophy were exploited to suit a widening array of socio-political projects I draw on a variety of sources including archival documents, film, and popular literature. I contend that the reception of Wagner in Japan offers us a new way of unravelling the tangled skein of nationalism, modernity, and gender ideology.

McKinley, Eric. Intimate Strangers: Intermarriage among Jews, Catholics, and Protestants in Germany, 1875-1935. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Department of History. Director: Peter Fritzsche. March 2015. Abstract:

I examine intermarriage in Germany from 1875, when the Second Reich implemented obligatory civil marriage, to 1935, the year the Third Reich implemented the Nuremberg Laws. Acts of intermarriage and the reactions they generated were undertakings of boundary crossing that sparked changes to German identity. Over the course of six decades of boundary crossing examined in this dissertation, the confessional, religious, and racial boundaries themselves transformed, and sometimes overlapped. What it meant to be German in German history constituted the stakes of crossing these boundaries because the act determined the parameters of belonging and exclusion. The stakes for the historical actors constitute the stakes of this dissertation. I investigate what it meant to be German and who decided that meaning by analyzing the idea and practice of intermarriage over time. Intermarriage was central to the process of making Protestant and Catholic Germans into “Germans” and excluding Jews from that same category. It was not because the Nazis abolished the boundary between Protestants and Catholics, but because over the course of history individuals and German states established a language and a framework for the coexistence of Protestants and Catholics both intimately and socially.

Moore, Scott. Teaching the Empire: Education and State Loyalty in Late Habsburg Austria. University of Maryland, College Park, Department of History. Director: Marsha Rozenblit. March 2015. Abstract:

This dissertation examines how Austria utilized its system of public education to foster and develop loyalty to the multinational Habsburg Monarchy from 1867-1918. It draws form a wide range of sources, including contemporary textbooks, pedagogical journals, printed curriculum, school chronicles, school year-end-reports, school inspection reports, and other records related to school administration to show that Austria developed a strong system of civic education which attempted to build a supranational, Austrian identity among its citizens. Educators sought to develop this supranational sense of “Austrian-ness” in the context of existing ethnic, national, and regional identities assuming that they would contribute to, not detract from, Austrian patriotism. Ultimately, this study shows that the Habsburg Monarchy possessed a nuanced, assertive system of civic education within its schools which attempted to create a layered identity unique to Europe.

Munderloh, Marissa K. The Emergence of Post-Hybrid Identities: A Comparative Analysis of National Identity Formations in Germany’s Contemporary Hip-Hop Culture. University of St. Andrews, School of Modern Languages. Director: Michael Gratzke. January 2015. Abstract:

This thesis examines how hip-hop artists in Hamburg and Oldenburg express their Germanness by looking at the spatial, historical and social influences towards the formation of a national identity in hip-hop. The research methods entail participant observation, semi-structured interviews and a close reading of hip-hop’s cultural texts in the form of videos, photographs and lyrics. The first chapter analyses the manifestation of hip-hop music in Hamburg. The second chapter looks at the local adaptation of hip-hop’s dance styles. The last two chapters on rap and graffiti art present a comparative analysis between the art forms’ appropriation in Hamburg and in Oldenburg. In comparing hip-hop’s four main elements and their practice in two distinct cities this research not only expands current German hip-hop scholarship beyond the common focus on rap, especially in terms of being a voice for the minority, but also offers new understandings on contemporary presentations of Germanness. By looking at the strategies with which artists make hip-hop meaningful as a German cultural movement, this thesis shows that national culture and affiliation can be expressed in, what I call, a post-hybrid state of identity, revealing how a mono- national identity can be constructed through multiculturality.

Renaud, Terence. Restarting Socialism: The New Beginning Group and the Problem of renewal on the German Left, 1930-1970. University of California, Berkeley; History. Advisor: Martin Jay. May 2015. Abstract:

In the tumultuous decades surrounding the Second World War, the German left suffered massive defeat and tragic setbacks. But it also experienced amazing theoretical innovation, generational renewal, and organizational restructuring. The history of one small group, Neu Beginnen, reveals the creative potential of this long era of “new lefts.” Splinter groups like Neu Beginnen sought to unify and renew the socialist movement through a curious combination of elite vanguardism and grassroots initiative. After antifascist resistance, exile, and war, former members of Neu Beginnen such as Fritz Erler, Waldemar von Knoeringen, Richard Löwenthal, Wolfgang Abendroth, Ossip K. Flechtheim, and Robert Havemann acquired leading posts in German academia and politics. They set about applying the theories and practices they had learned in the 1930s to the new problems of postwar reconstruction. Their influence continued in three separate directions: social democratic modernization, heterodox communism, and the formation of a radical New Left.

Reyes, Michelle. The Spiritual Self in the Age of Reason: Autobiographical Writing, 1700-1800. University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Germanic Studies. Director: Patrick Fortmann. May 2015. Abstract:

My project explores how certain German autobiographical texts of the eighteenth century craft a spiritual self. The texts analyzed expand the established canon of autobiographical writing by pairing each male voice with a female counterpart. These pairs include: the Lebensbericht von Anna Louisa Karsch (1761/62), Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling’s Lebensgeschichte (1777–1804), Karl Philipp Moritz’s Anton Reiser (1785), Angelika Rosa’s Lebensschicksale (1784/85), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Die Bekenntnisse einer schönen Seele” (1795/96) and Friederike Helene Unger’s Bekenntnisse einer schönen Seele von ihr selbst geschrieben (1806). In each of these accounts the self does not replace the soul but rather incorporates it through its cultivation. Michel Foucault’s The Hermeneutics of the Subject (1981/82) and The Care of the Self (1986) as well as from Niklas Luhmann’s sociological model of the self as differentiated subjectivity, outlined in his essay, “Individuum, Individualität, Individualismus” (1989), provide the theoretical cues. My study marks a significant departure from previous scholarship in revealing rhetorical, narrative, and conceptual continuities between Pietist confessions and supposedly secular accounts of individual life. Furthermore, my study shows how men and women take markedly different turns on the path towards the spiritual self.

Rowlaβ, Linnéa. A Godly Environment: Religious Views of Nature in Early Sixteenth-Century Strasbourg. University of Kent and Freie Universität Berlin; Text and Event in Early Modern History. Directors: Kenneth Fincham (UKC), Claudia Ulbrich (FUB). September 2015. Abstract:

This thesis offers three case studies of religious representations of the natural world in Strasbourg from 1509 to 1541 from the perspective of the interactive model of socioeconomic metabolism. This model proposes that long-term environmental instability will exert a negative effect on human / social biophysical structures and may provoke changes in the manner in which the natural world is represented within that culture. Although direct causation is impossible to prove due to the autonomous nature of the cultural sphere, this thesis suggests that the two case studies of early sixteenth-century religious reforms in Strasbourg indicate the presence of theological innovations that changed the conceptual relationship between faithful Christians and Creation, thereby offering an enhanced capacity for adherents to exploit the metabolic opportunities intheir natural environment. Further, it suggests that these cultural developments were supported and strengthened in part by the stresses society experienced from the natural world.

Schicker, Juliane. The Concert Hall as Heterotopia: Sounds and Sights of Resistance in the Leipzig Gewandhaus 1970-1989. Pennsylvania State University, Germanic and Slavc Languages and Literatures. Directors: Bettina Brandt, Charles Youmans. May 2015. Abstract:

In the discourse about resistance inside the GDR, scholars have focused on popular music or classical music composers who used their works to comment on political events. My dissertation expands this area, examining the influence of symphony orchestra conductors and their work environment. I use a case study of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig during the GDR tenure of Kurt Masur to argue that a symphony orchestra and its leader can build a space that, with Foucault, I call a heterotopia where a dialogue about political issues is permitted. The four pillars of this heterotopia—Kurt Masur as artistic head and conductor, Gustav Mahler as an example of music inspiring a dialogue about social issues, the architecture of the concert hall under head architect Rudolf Skoda as the determiner of the actual space, and the ceiling painting by Sighard Gille that reflects and supports the heterotopia in the fine arts—demand a dialogue about social issues, equality, and educated participation of citizens in social matters, an orientation toward internationality, and the fostering of a sense of community, amounting to the overarching goal of a humanistic treatment of all people with the absence of fixed symbolic and literal borders.

Uchill, Rebecca. Developing Experience: Alexander Dorner's Exhibitions, from Weimar Republic Germany to the Cold War United States. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Director: Caroline A. Jones. February 2015. Abstract:

Following the work of German-American curator Alexander Dorner (1893-1957) from his early curatorial career in Niedersachsen to professorships in New England, this dissertation explores the intersections of Euro-American modernism and developing ideations of experience within aesthetic philosophy. Dorner’s work was formulated in deep engagement with (and often intentional contradiction to) the art theory being incubated in contemporaneous art institutions, pedagogies, and practices. His written texts and museum praxis responded to emerging notions of subjectivity, restoration, and perception in the aesthetic theory of Alois Riegl and Erwin Panofsky, art restoration mandates advocated by German museum leaders such as Max Sauerlandt and Kurt Karl Eberlein, and the artistic productions of El Lissitzky and Herbert Bayer. Against shifting expressions of democracy in Weimar Germany and the mid-century United States, Dorner’s polemical focus on museum experience was, in effect, an attempt to train citizens for collective but heterogeneous social life.

Wirth, Sigrid. “…weil es ein Zierlich vnd lieblich ja Nobilitiert Instrument ist”: Der Resonanzraum der Laute und musikalische Repräsentation am Wolfenbütteler Hof der Herzöge zu Braunschweig und Lüneburg 1580 – 1625. Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Musikwissenschaftliches Seminar. Directors: Andreas Waczkat, Birgit Abels. March 2015. Abstract:

Die Studie untersucht für den Hof der Herzöge zu Braunschweig und Lüneburg zwischen 1580 und 1625 die Bedeutung der Lautenmusik. Der Resonanzraum der Laute bezeichnet den vom Hof ausgehenden, auf ihn zurückwirkenden lautenbezogenen Beziehungs-, Handlungs- und Bedeutungsraum. Lauteninstrumente wurden am Wolfenbütteler Hof nicht nur in funktionaler Weise, zu Rekreation und Unterhaltung, sondern auch in Kenntnis ihrer Symbolik als Repräsentationsmittel geschätzt und zielgerichtet eingesetzt. Die Lautenisten Thobias Kühne, Gregorius Huwet und Behrendt Gottschalck (sowie als Gast John Dowland) nahmen infolge der ihrem Instrument zugemessenen Bedeutung eine bisher nicht beachtete, für sie geschaffene und über Jahrzehnte hinweg aufrecht erhaltene Sonderposition unter den Hofmusikern ein. Mit Gregorius Huwet wurde exemplarisch ein Musiker in die Analyse einbezogen, der die Figur des Hoflautenisten in besonderem Maße verkörperte. Orientiert am Konzept des Kulturellen Handelns und an Konzepten, die aus dem spatial turn der Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften hervorgingen, analysiert die Studie (raum-)soziologisch gewichtete Fragestellungen, wie Identifikations- und Statusmerkmale (z.B. Zugangsberechtigungen zu herzoglichen Privatgemächern) der Lautenisten innerhalb der Gruppen der Hofmusiker/-bediensteten, Formen herzoglicher Begünstigung sowie die Veränderung der Hoflautenistenposition über die Jahrzehnte hinweg. Des Weiteren werden Formen musikalischer Repräsentation, Musiklehre in Herzogtum und herzoglicher Familie sowie die Verwendung von Lauteninstrumenten in den Dramen des Herzogs Heinrich Julius dargestellt.

Zechner, Johannes. Die Natur der Nation: Beiträge zur Ideengeschichte des deutschen Waldes 1800-1945. Freie Universität Berlin, Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut. Directors: Uwe Puschner, Herfried Münkler. February 2015. Abstract:

My thesis combines–and refines–approaches from intellectual and environmental history, namely Benedict Anderson's work on 'imagined communities' and Simon Schama's theory of “landscape as imagination.” It thus reconstructs the career of the “German forest” as an imagined landscape throughout most of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, comprising the consecration of Romantic yearning as well as the justification of National Socialist ideology. From around 1800 onwards, poets and professors proclaimed the “German forest”–and within it the “German oak”– to be the prototype of national nature. Its alleged principles of immutability and inequality were seen as an antipode against the values of the French Revolution. Especially during times of crisis, the realm of sylvapoetry became subdued to the machinations of sylvapolitics and sylvapropaganda. Patriotic incantations were increasingly replaced by ethnic, racist, and antisemitic patterns of thought, claiming an indissoluble contrast between a German 'forest people' and a Jewish 'desert people'. Such instrumentalizations reached their culmination between 1933 and 1945 when leading politicians laid ideological claim to the treescape. By revealing the importance of sylvan symbols of the nation for German identity building, this study contributes to the intellectual history of the environment as an evolving field of transdisciplinary research.