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Localism, Landscape and the Ambiguities of Place

Localism, Landscape and the Ambiguities of Place: German-Speaking Central Europe, 1860-1930

David Blackbourn
James Retallack
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  • Book Info
    Localism, Landscape and the Ambiguities of Place
    Book Description:

    These essays do not assume the primacy of national allegiance. Instead, by using the ?sense of place? as a prism to look at German identity in new ways, they examine a sense of ?Germanness? that was neither self-evident nor unchanging.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8452-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-36)

    What makes a person call a particular place ʹhomeʹ? Does this ascription, this attachment, follow simply from being born there? Is it the result of a language shared with neighbours, or of a sense of rootedness in a particular landscape – the hills and valleys of your homeland, say? Why does a piece of music or a work of art or a journey abroad evoke emotions that capture the essence of home? And what about the feelings of belonging that are forged by political attachments, by civic rituals, by people celebrating familiar holidays or wearing familiar uniforms? Each of these...


    • 1 Music in Place: Perspectives on Art Culture in Nineteenth-Century Germany
      (pp. 39-59)

      Over recent decades, historians of Germany have done much to complicate and otherwise confound the sweeping effect of narrative, its ability both to soar above the devilish details of life at ground level and to gather this detail into manageable, if inevitably distorted, general statements. This volume of essays continues to make life difficult for the narrative historian; localism and landscape both provide ample opportunity for the exploration of particularity, diversity, incommensurability, and digression, all enemies of a briskly developing story. With its attention to microhistory and the history of everyday life, the ʹnew cultural historyʹ lurks behind this volume...

    • 2 Heimat Art, Modernism, Modernity
      (pp. 60-75)

      Heimatis one of the German languageʹs most complex, ambiguous, and opaque terms. While the idea of a homeland, or home place, has a universal emotional currency, the deep connections thatHeimathas had to Germanyʹs troubled national history have often given the word a powerfully negative resonance. The idea ofHeimat, as articulated in the mid-nineteenth-century writings of Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl, celebrated the pre-industrial rural culture of theVolkand its cultural and racial embeddedness in the natural landscape. Intellectual and cultural histories written since 1945 have explored the instrumentalization of this idea by political conservatives after 1890 and...

    • 3 ʹNative Sonʹ: Julian Hawthorneʹs Saxon Studies
      (pp. 76-98)

      Fated to stand in the shadow of his gifted father Nathaniel Hawthorne, Julian Hawthorne (1846–1934) might be forgiven for attempting to ʹgo nativeʹ when fortune took him to Dresden, capital city of the Kingdom of Saxony. Near the end of an undistinguished period of professional training that began in 1869 and dragged on until 1874, Hawthorne wrote a misanthropic tome entitledSaxon Studies.¹ First published serially in theContemporary Review, the book weighed in at 452 pages when it appeared in 1876. It may well have contributed to Hawthorneʹs British and American publishers going bankrupt a few weeks later:...


    • 4 From Electoral Campaigning to the Politics of Togetherness: Localism and Democracy
      (pp. 101-123)

      In May 1910Kladderadatsch, a widely read German satirical magazine, entertained its readers with a cartoon about parliamentary politics in Imperial Germany. In the cartoon, a member of the Prussian state parliament, the Landtag, has just returned to his rural constituency for the summer recess. The politician looks sad; in fact, he is weeping. When a local policeman asks why, the Landtag deputy replies: ʹI didnʹt succeed in picking up a railway in Berlin, as promised.ʹ What he meant (and what all readers would have understood) was that his job had been to ensure that a branch railway line would...

    • 5 The Landscapes of Liberalism: Particularism and Progressive Politics in Two Borderland Regions
      (pp. 124-146)

      ʹLandscape is a state of the spirit,ʹ wrote the German-American novelist Frederic Prokosch. ʹIt is a constant longing for what is to come, it is a reflection incomparably detailed and ingenious of what is everlasting in us, and everlastingly changing.ʹ¹ More prosaically, James L. Curley, the Progressive mayor of Boston, insisted that ʹall politics is localʹ in his defence of the Irish poor against the Anglo-Saxon Brahmins.² Just as Prokosch hardly had politics in mind when he wrote about landscape and the spirit, Curley was no doubt unaware of German concepts likeHeimatorVolkstum. But the relationship between progressive...


    • 6 ʹThe Garden of Our Heartsʹ: Landscape, Nature, and Local Identity in the German East
      (pp. 149-164)

      Travel east from Berlin, and the River Oder is no more than seventy kilometres away. Continue another fifty kilometres, and you reach Gorzow Wielkopolski. In the Kaiserʹs time the town was still called Landsberg and belonged to the Prussian province of Brandenburg. It was just outside Landsberg, on the modest family estate of Gennin, that the now forgotten author Hans Künkel was born in 1896. Künkel served in the First World War and spent most of his life as a teacher. In 1946, ten years before his death, he was ordained a Protestant minister, then founded and ran a school...

    • 7 The Nature of Home: Landscape Preservation and Local Identities
      (pp. 165-192)

      In his 1995 essay ʹThe Trouble with Wilderness,ʹ the American environmental historian William Cronon offers a provocative critique of the wilderness idea in modern environmental thought. ʹThe more one knows of its peculiar history, the more one realizes that wilderness is not quite what it seems,ʹ he writes. ʹFar from being the one place on earth that stands apart from humanity, it is quite profoundly a human creation – indeed the creation of very particular human cultures at very particular moments in human history … As we gaze into the mirror [that wilderness] holds up for us, we too easily...


    • 8 Constructing a Modern German Landscape: Tourism, Nature, and Industry in Saxony
      (pp. 195-213)

      In 1905 Friedrich Löscher used his role as editor of a new journal about the Erzgebirge and the Vogtland, regions comprising part of the southern borderlands of the German state of Saxony, to explain both the role of the journal and the nature of the region it represented:

      There was a time, not long ago … when … people in the lowlands saw the weather-beaten faces of peddlers from the mountains … One bought something out of pity.

      But … ourCalendaris a wanderer from the mountains that will no longer be looked down on … It will not...

    • 9 The Borderland in the Child: National Hermaphrodism and Pedagogical Activism in the Bohemian Lands
      (pp. 214-235)

      In the late summer of 1918, Robert Scheu, a prominent Social Democrat and journalist from Austria, toured Bohemia with a mission to investigate national conflict in a so-called exotic ʹborderlandʹ society. ʹI wish to experience the national question in Bohemia, as a tourist,ʹ he wrote. ʹTo this end, I wish to travel along stretches of the language frontier, then to cast a glance into the Czech areas, and finally to go to Prague, after having studied the periphery. I wish to talk with burghers, peasants, teachers, village priests, and politicians, and at the same time to absorb the unique qualities...

    • 10 Land of Sun and Vineyards: Settlers, Tourists, and the National Imagination on the Southern Language Frontier
      (pp. 236-258)

      Rudolf Hans Bartschʹs 1910 novelThe German Sorrow, tellingly subtitled ʹa landscape novel,ʹ is a nationalistBildungsromanthat traces the heroʹs stormy relationship to his South StyrianHeimat. Although set in the Austrian province of Styria in the period 1880 to 1910, the novel attempts to place this southern language frontier in the context of a greater Germany, embodied in culture, in activism, and, most of all, in the sublime nature of the landscape itself. The increasingly severe political and social conflicts between German nationalist and Slovene nationalist communities in the region provide the backdrop to the many life phases...

  9. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 259-264)
  10. Contributors
    (pp. 265-268)
  11. Index
    (pp. 269-278)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 279-279)