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The German-speaking world has spawned some of the most extreme contrasts between products of culture--the endlessly fascinating, if clichéd, Beethoven-Hitler dichotomy--and thus provokes compelling questions about culture and identity. A User's Guide to German Cultural Studies is an invitation to explore the rapidly expanding scholarship in cultural studies within the German context.
This collection brings together more than twenty-five essays from top-notch scholars and astute cultural critics who examine diverse questions in both broad outlines and specific instances. A literary scholar investigates multiculturalism in German literature; a political scientist asks which past Germans live with after reunification; a historian studies the revival of Bach's St. Matthew Passion in 1829; a journalist wonders how we learn to stop hating the Germans.
More than just a sampler of current work, however, the volume aims at practical applications. Through introductory and linking comments by the editors, essays by expert practitioners, and a unique section devoted to resources for teaching, the book offers a variety of new approaches to studying and teaching German culture and illustrates by example the potential of cultural studies generally.
Previous cultural studies readers have fallen short of the interdisciplinary ideal they imagined for themselves. Growing out of long-term collaboration between its editors and contributors, A User's Guide to German Cultural Studies is a model for this kind of work. The essays speak to each other because their authors have done just that. Together they take advantage of a particularly auspicious moment to reconsider crucial theoretical and pedagogical issues relating to things German.
Scott Denham is Professor of German, Davidson College.
Irene Kacandes is Associate Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature, Dartmouth College.
Jonathan Petropoulos is Professor of History, Claremont-McKenna College.