Speculations on German History

Speculations on German History

Culture and the State

Barry Emslie

eBook for Handhelds

Camden House



Provocative and spiced with humor, this book uses a cultural studies approach to examine the fraught relationship in German history between material reality and ideology.

German history never loses its fascination. It is exceptionally varied, contradictory, and raises difficult problems for the historian. In a material sense, there have been a great many Germanies, so that it was long unclear what "Germany" would amount to geopolitically, while German intellectuals fought constantly over the idea(s) of Germany. Provocative and spiced with humor, Speculations tackles Germany's successes and catastrophes in view of this fraught relationship between material reality and ideology.
Concentrating on the period from Friedrich the Great until today, the book is less a conventional history than an extended essay. It moves freely within the chosen period, and because of its cultural studies disposition, devotes a great deal of attention to German writers, artists, and intellectuals. It looks at the ways in which German historians have attempted to come to terms with their own varying notions of nation, culture, and race.
An underlying philosophical assumption is that history is not one dominant narrative but a struggle between competing, simultaneous narratives: like all those Germanies of the past and of the mind, history is plural. Barry Emslie pursues this agenda into the present, arguing that there has been an unprecedented qualitative change in the Federal Republic in the quarter-century since unification.

Barry Emslie lives and teaches in Berlin. He is the author of Richard Wagner and the Centrality of Love (Boydell Press, 2010) and Narrative and Truth: An Ethical and Dynamic Paradigm for the Humanities (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

An e-book version of this title is available (9781782044789), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


256 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
Hardback, 9781571139290, April 2015
eBook for Handhelds, 9781782047353, April 2015
Camden House
BISAC HIS014000, HIS010020
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Table of Contents

The Problem(s)
A Plethora of Germanies
Culture, Language, and Blood
The Gemeinschaft
Marx, the Proletariat, and the State
Hegel and the State
German Historians and the State
Meinecke and the State
The Lingering Ambiguities of the State
Militarism and Death
Providence and Narration
Guilt and Innocence
The Indispensable Jews
The Historians' Debate
The State Today


Engaging and provocative . . . . In this stimulating book, Emslie takes a refreshingly new approach to German history in the light of the fraught relationship between German culture and the German state, or idealism and materialism, or ideological constructs and material reality. . . . [T]he text is well written, "approachable and lively" as it says on the tin, and laced with black humour. These stimulating Speculations can be highly recommended. . . . THE WAGNER JOURNAL

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