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Standard narratives hold that the German students of the late 1800s and early 1900s were conservative, anti-Semitic, radically nationalist, and aggressively militaristic. According to such accounts, these students—who became the doctors, lawyers, civil servants, and teachers of the Weimar Republic—already shared ideological similarities with the National Socialists. By analyzing students' memoirs and newspapers, organizational histories, and commentaries on student life, Dueling Students: Conflict, Masculinity, and Politics in German Universities, 1890–1914 calls this picture into question. Lisa Fetheringill Zwicker uses these primary sources to investigate the full range of student politics and argue that the conflict between different groups within this student body played an important role in the openness of many to liberal perspectives.
Zwicker's research shows that as university attendance expanded beyond the middle class, new student organizations and groups profiled themselves as defenders of liberal values such as equality, the right to associate, and freedom of speech. These ideas, combined with a sense of elitism and virulent anti-Catholicism among various groups, support the picture of a much wider range of student politics than is traditionally envisioned at Wilhelmine universities. Dueling Students touches on areas of interest in politics, religious prejudices and identities, constructions of masculinity and nationality, and cultural studies.
Jacket image: Georg Mühlberg, "Auf die Mensur!" Archiv und Bücherei der Deutschen Burschenschaft, Koblenz.
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