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Building a National Literature

Building a National Literature: The Case of Germany, 1830-1870 OPEN ACCESS

Peter Uwe Hohendahl
TRANSLATED BY Renate Baron Franciscono
Copyright Date: 1989
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Building a National Literature
    Book Description:

    Building a National Literatureboldly takes issue with traditional literary criticism for its failure to explain how literature as a body is created and shaped by institutional forces. Peter Uwe Hohendahl approaches literary history by focusing on the material and ideological structures that determine the canonical status of writers and works. He examines important elements in the making of a national literature, including the political and literary public sphere, the theory and practice of literary criticism, and the emergence of academic criticism as literary history. Hohendahl considers such key aspects of the process in Germany as the rise of liberalism and nationalism, the delineation of the borders of German literature, the idea of its history, the understanding of its cultural function, and the notion of a canon of major and minor authors.

    eISBN: 978-1-5017-0547-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature
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Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-43)

    This book is concerned neither with individual literary texts nor with the influence or reception of literary works. By traditional standards, therefore, it falls outside the field of literary studies. From the point of view of both hermeneutics and reception aesthetics, the problems¹ examine are “extraliterary”; they form the “background” of the “actual” subject matter. The topics and themes dealt with in this book are considered “helpful” to literary scholars in the interpretation of texts but not indispensable for their work, for the decision about how much “background material” to inelude in a given investigation is customarily left to the...

  2. (pp. 44-74)

    The bourgeois revolution of 1848–49 is rightly considered to be one of the decisive turning points in the history of Germany and continental Europe. The outcome of the revolution, which confirmed the predominance of conservative, legitimist power in both Prussia and Austria, created the framework for further change, not least for the unification of Germany. Thekleindeutschsolution was the result of an alliance between Bismarck’s monarchic state and a bourgeoisie bent on economic emancipation, who largely relinquished political power after 1866 and responded to the dualism of freedom and unification by favoring national unity. Within the context of...

  3. (pp. 75-103)

    Hermann Baumgarten’s workDer deutsche Liberalismus: Eine Selbstkritik(German Liberalism: A Self-Criticism) was first published in 1866 in thePreussische Jahrbücherbut in the same year also went on the market as a separate book.¹ Response to Baumgarten’s thesis was varied and controversial. Heinrich von Treitschke and Julian Schmidt, speaking for the liberal right, welcomed his critique warmly and called for a new foundation for liberalism.² According to Baumgarten, who viewed the development of liberalism in Germany from the perspective of state and national strength, the history of German liberalism was a history of failure. He gave the endeavors of...

  4. (pp. 104-139)

    Since the appearance of the seminal works of Georg Lukács, literary studies have accepted the failure of the bourgeois Revolution of 1848 as a decisive influence on the evolution of European and German literature. Using as examples the works of such authors as Heine, Keller, and Fontane in Germany and Balzac, Flaubert, and Zola in France, Lukács pointed out the difference between prerevolutionary and postrevolutionary literature.¹ The transition from portrayal to description, or lyricism, indicated to Lukács that literary production after 1848, viewed as a whole, had entered a phase of decadence corresponding to that in ideology and society. The...

  5. (pp. 140-173)

    It has been the traditional task of literary history to make the literature of the past accessible to the present by reconstructing its developmento The authors, the works, and the various literatures of earlier epochs are to be presented in such a way that today’s reader will understand the relation between past and contemporary literatures. Such an attempt has both the positive function of presenting the literary heritage by describing its historical development and the no less important task of determining through emphasis and selection exactly what that heritage is. The individual historian may not necessarily be aware that the...

  6. (pp. 174-200)

    What effect did the developmental scheme that gained acceptance through Dilthey have on the establishment of a canon? The incipient devaluation of the early Enlightenment and sensibility led to the suppression of two writers who had had a place in the liberal literary history of the Vormarz. Wieland and Klopstock, albeit for different reasons, were no longer credited in the full sense as pioneers of the new German literature. Wieland’s position had been problematic since the time of romanticism, when he had been denounced as the epigone of French literature. Still, Gervinus devoted an entire chapter to him and discussed...

  7. (pp. 201-247)

    A critical history ofGermanistikand literary criticism still exists only in fragments, in divergent approaches that show all too clearly the difficulties connected with this task.¹ What would be the object of such a history? On what should the historian train his or her eye? On the educational content of the discipline of literary studies? On the theories and methods of the field, or on its organization? To simply write a history of the field would not permit one to describe sorne important processes, for the discipline as we know it was not yet established in the mid-nineteenth century....

  8. (pp. 248-270)

    The study of the institution of literature cannot be restricted to the analysis of literary production and reception. The broader field of investigation must incIude the relationship of literature to other institutions, especially those with which it interacts. In the nineteenth century, the institution of education, incIuding elementary schools as well as secondary schools and universities, was obviously of crucial importance for the transmission of literature; first, because it regulated the reading material of students; second, because it determined the general educational goals and content that helped shape the concept of literature. The institution of education created underlying conditions that...

  9. (pp. 271-306)

    “The purity of bourgeois art,” Horkheimer and Adorno argue inDialectic of Enlightenment,“which hypostatized itself as a world of freedom in contrast to what was happening in the material world, was from the beginning bought with the exclusion of the lower classes—with whose cause, the real universality, art keeps faith precisely by its freedom from the ends of the false universality.”¹ This statement is a concise formulation of the dichotomy between the culture industry—which gave the masses the feeling that they were participating in authentic culture while at the same time it sought to control them—and...

  10. (pp. 307-352)

    The expression “industrial culture” was coined more than a century ago by Friedrich Nietzsche. InDie fröhliche Wissenschaft(The Gay Science) he observed that “soldiers and leaders still have far better relationships with each other than workers and employers. So far at least, culture that rests on a military basis stiH towers above aH so-caHed industrial culture: the latter in its present shape is altogether the most vulgar form of existence that has yet existed.”¹ Nietzsche was not the first to establish a connection between the development of industrial capitalism and the change in culture; the Young German writers had...

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This book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.
Funding is provided by National Endowment for the Humanities