Academic journal article German Quarterly

German Culture in Nineteenth-Century America. Reception, Adaptation, Transformation

Academic journal article German Quarterly

German Culture in Nineteenth-Century America. Reception, Adaptation, Transformation

Article excerpt

Tatlock, Lynne, and Matt Erlin, eds. German Culture in Nineteenth-Century America. Reception, Adaptation, Transformation. Rochester: Camden House, 2005. 336 pp. $75.00 hardcover.

"[In] spite of yesterday's fame, today [...] has been largely forgotten (273)." This phrase from Gerhard Weiss's essay on "The Americanization of Francis Lieber" could serve as a motto for the many instances of cultural transfer between Germany and the U.S. during the 19th and early 20th century, discussed in this anthology. Despite its many reprints and translations, who is familiar with Börnstein's Die Ceheimnisse van St. Louis (discussed by Gerhild Williams)? Despite her tremendous productivity, who knows that Annis Lee Wister translated/rewrote novels from German into English, including many romance novels written by German women, which became greatly popular at the time and made her publisher, Lippincott, rich and famous (as discussed by Lynne Tatlock)? Despite Heinrich Heine being one of the most popular poets in Germany until today, who would have known that he was almost equally popular in mid-19th century America, enjoying a number of translations and editions of complete volumes?

This anthology provides any number of interesting insights about cultural exchanges and cultural transfers prior to WWI. These exchanges became-or so it seems -an integral part of an American intellectual and popular culture landscape, not necessarily perceived as "foreign" but rather as part of a cultural ambience marked by multiculturalism (avant la lettre) where immigrants' cultures were part of a broad spectrum of cultural expressions available to Americans without being hindered by the narrowing spectacles of nationalism. Unfortunately, this changed-and the question which remains unaddressed and thus unanswered is: what happened? Why the narrowing down, the growing parochialism, the cultural nativism? To make WWI and the subsequent Americanization drive responsible for it seems like a foregone conclusion the book does not make explicit-later research efforts should seek more complex answers. So, what does the book offer? In an informative and well informed introduction the editors outline major issues regarding the burgeoning field of cultural transfer studies. The subsequent four parts capture the various aspects in which cultural transfer may be studied most successfully. Part 1 is devoted to cultural politics at the turn of the 20th century, with H. seeba discussing the field of Cultural History, itself an area of inquiry transferred from Germany to the US and a discipline with boundaries to traverse; Eric Ames assessing Hugo Munsterberg's theory on cinema; and Claudia Liebrand discussing the ongoing impact of "The German Element in America" as seen by Albert Faust in the first decade of the 20th century. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.