Popularizing the Nation: Audience, Representation, and the Production of Identity in Die Gartenlaube, 1853-1900


Popularizing the Nation examines the intersection of national identity and the popular press in nineteenth-century Germany. Central to Kirsten Belgum's study is the Gartenlaube, a magazine that first appeared in 1853 and became, by the 1870s, the most widely read magazine in Germany. In the midst of the magazine's varied fare was a host of writings that touched on the themes of the German nation and national identity.

In countless articles on culture, politics, landscape, industry, history, and other topics, the Gartenlaube played an influential role in nineteenth-century Germany's larger effort to forge a national identity for itself. In fact, Belgum argues that the search for, and development of, national identity in Germany was inextricably linked to the writings of the Gartenlaube and other popular magazines. Such publications served both as a public repository of mythic memory for the nation and as a source of new national images for a self-consciously modern Germany.

In its careful attention to the issue of national identity formation during a crucial period of German history, Popularizing the Nation is an important contribution to modern German intellectual, political, and publishing history. But the book has a larger significance as well. Belgum's examination of the Gartenlaube's often contradictory images of the German nation -- tradition-bound and modernizing, liberal and fervently nationalistic, enlightened and sentimental -- provides crucial insights into the complex problems and processes of constructing national identity. Popularizing the Nation is a revelatory account of modern nationalism and its close relationship to mainstream journalism.


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