A Critical Theory of the German Idea of Homeland

Peter Blickle


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A new analysis of one of the most loaded terms in the German language: Heimat, or Homeland.
The idea of Heimat (home, homeland, native region) has been as important to German self-perceptions over the last two hundred years as the shifting notion of the German nation. While the idea of Heimat has been long neglected in English studies of German culture--among other reasons because the word Heimat has no exact equivalent in English--this book offers us the first cross-disciplinary and comprehensive analysis, in English or German, of this all-pervasive German idea. Blickle shows how the idea of Heimat interpenetrates German notions of modernity, identity, gender, nature, and innocence. Blickle reminds us of such commonplace expressions of Heimat sentimentality as Biedermeier landscapes of Alpine meadows and castles on the Rhine, but also finds the Heimat preoccupation in Hegel, Nietzsche, and Freud. Always aware of the many literary representations of Heimat (for instance in Schiller, Hölderlin, Heine, Kafka, and Thomas Mann), Blickle does not argue for the fundamental innocence of Heimat. Instead he shows again and again how the idealization of a home ground leads to borders of exclusion.

Peter Blickle is associate professor of German at Western Michigan University.

Table of Contents

Heimat, Modernity, and Nation
Heimat and Concepts of Identity
Heimat and the Feminine
Heimat, Nature, Landscape, and Ground
Heimat and Innocence (in Childhood, in Religion, in Language, and in Antiheimat)
Works Cited


This volume will be a must for scholars working on Heimat and a welcome addition to any library. MICHIGAN ACADEMICIAN

For anyone interested in German notions of Heimat, Blickle's study, an impressive scholarly accomplishment, is indispensable reading. GERMAN QUARTERLY

Blickle has rendered an important service in providing a lucid and provocative study on a topic that has elicited profuse commentary in recent years. MONATSHEFTE

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