A User's Guide to German Cultural Studies

Scott Denham, Irene Kacandes, and Jonathan Petropoulos, Editors
Capitalizes on the ripeness of the German case for interdisciplinary investigation


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.

Praise / Awards

  • "This rich collection. . . deserves a wide readership. . . . Most of the essays, including those not discussed here, offer a wealth of material and approaches for enriching classroom teaching and the curriculum. . . . This is a stimulating and useful collection highlighting the potential of German Cultural Studies to transform teaching and scholarship."
    --Jeanette Clausen, Colloquia Germanica
  • "The book itself will become a historical document of how German culture was taught in the late twentieth century. Many of the practices it advocates are already widespread. The anthology does an excellent job of cataloging them."
    --Daniel Purdy, Columbia University, German Quarterly, Winter 2000
  • "These editors and authors seek to stretch the boundaries of what has traditionally been taught under the heading of German Studies, to expand it beyond the sole domain of literature, to oblige Germanists to think inclusively rather than exclusively. . . . In the definitional and terminological discussion which occupies the first quarter of this User's Guide, the principal service being performed is an openness to new views of old material, a willingness to create a discipline anew in the midst of rapid and sometimes capricious change. . . . It deserves a wide audience."
    --Richard J. Rundell, New Mexico State University, Monatshefte, Volume 94, No. 2 (2002)

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 576pp.
  • photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1997
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06656-8

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  • $44.95 U.S.