German Travel Cultures

German Travel Cultures

German Travel Cultures

German Travel Cultures

Synopsis

Travel guidebooks are an important part of contemporary culture, but we know relatively little about their history and importance to the evolution of tourism. Germany not only produced the first international standard for travel handbooks, the Baedeker, but also became a major tourist destination early in the twentieth century. This is the first comprehensive discussion of the history of tourist guidebooks for any modern nation.Selecting representative texts - the first Baedeker to unified Germany, guides to Berlin sex life and sites of Nazi martyrdom, a tour guide for the German worker and American tourbooks to West Germany - this fascinating study relates the history of tourist literature to the formation of distinct 'travel cultures' oriented to specific audiences, tastes and ideologies.

Excerpt

This book began with what appears to be a straightforward question: what is it that travel guidebooks have done in the history of modern tourism? the author was motivated to make this query after using tour books for many years as a traveler and researcher who relied on the more authoritative examples of the genre for background information on urban histories and monuments. But I was also interested in studying a popular cultural artifact that allowed me to ask how (or if) leisure practices gave rise to enduringly important conceptions of identity and the self in modernity. the history of tourism seemed an especially appropriate subject because, as both the travel industry and scholars tell us, tourism will be the biggest business in the world in the twenty-first century. What if one studied travel handbooks not only as data, not only as commodities, but also as ‘texts’ that had an important bearing on the cultural identity of their users?

The community in question is Germany, partly because for more than two decades my research specialty has been that country's modern history, but partly also because Germany matters in the history of leisure travel. the focus here will be on guidebooks to Germany as products of distinct yet overlapping ‘travel cultures,’ which were shaped in turn by liberal individualism, working-class socialism, modernist notions of sexuality and pleasure, Nazism, and American– German relations. I consider not only the origins and impact of the famous Baedeker guidebook, the first great Bible of the modern tourist experience, but also more specialized or competing guidebooks. in relation to the world according to Baedeker, these ‘alternative’ handbooks catered to marginalized groups, voiced repressed or overlooked historical memories, or re-mapped Germany to account for new political and cultural developments. It will be seen that German travel cultures both reflected and shaped the bitter political conflicts that marked twentieth-century European history. Whereas specialists will find useful information on German cultural history in the following pages, students and educated lay readers in other fields will also find something of interest because the book engages a broader scholarship on European leisure and tourism. What readers will not find is a comprehensive history of tourist handbooks or of German tourism domestically and internationally (an impossible task at this stage of research, in any case). Nor will they get a full analysis of the political context in which travel . . .

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