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The Total Work of Art: Foundations, Articulations, Inspirations

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Volume 12

Spektrum: Publications of the German Studies Association

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The Total Work of Art

Foundations, Articulations, Inspirations

Edited by David Imhoof, Margaret Eleanor Menninger, and Anthony J. Steinhoff

300 pages, 5 figures, 1 table, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-184-8 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (July 2016)

ISBN  978-1-80073-017-5 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Not Yet Published (August 2021)

eISBN 978-1-78533-185-5 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Contributors are deft in negotiating and teasing out how aspects of the Gesamtkunstwerk shaped the German cultural landscape and at the same time mirrored the changing nature of politics and consumerism. This collection will prove to be an invaluable resource for historians interested in all aspects of German culture.” · Choice


For two centuries, Gesamtkunstwerk—the ideal of the “total work of art”—has exerted a powerful influence over artistic discourse and practice, spurring new forms of collaboration and provoking debates over the political instrumentalization of art. Despite its popular conflation with the work of Richard Wagner, Gesamtkunstwerk’s lineage and legacies extend well beyond German Romanticism, as this wide-ranging collection demonstrates. In eleven compact chapters, scholars from a variety of disciplines trace the idea’s evolution in German-speaking Europe, from its foundations in the early nineteenth century to its manifold articulations and reimaginings in the twentieth century and beyond, providing an uncommonly broad perspective on a distinctly modern cultural form.

David Imhoof is Associate Professor of History at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. His book, Becoming a Nazi Town: Culture and Politics in Göttingen between the World Wars, appeared with University of Michigan Press in 2013. He has published on sports, film, and sharpshooting in interwar Germany and is co-editing a forthcoming edition of Colloquia Germanica on sound studies. He directs the Music and Sound Studies Network for the German Studies Association.

Margaret Eleanor Menninger is NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities and Associate Professor of History at Texas State University. She has published articles on the history of cultural philanthropy in both the United States and Germany, and was a contributor to The Cambridge Wagner Encyclopedia. She is completing a book entitled A Serious Matter and True Joy: Philanthropy, the Arts, and the State in Nineteenth-Century Leipzig.

Anthony J. Steinhoff is Associate Professor of History at the Université du Québec à Montréal. A specialist in modern German and French cultural and social history, he is the author of The Gods of the City: Protestantism and Religious Culture in Strasbourg, 1870-1914 (Brill, 2008) and the translator of Rita Kuczynski’s Mauerblume: Ein Leben auf der Grenze (Wall Flower: A Life on the German Border; University of Toronto Press, 2015). He is currently writing a cultural history of Richard Wagner’s Parsifal and operatic culture in German-speaking Europe in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Subject: History (General) Cultural Studies (General) Performance Studies
Area: Europe


List of Illustrations
List of Tables

Celia Applegate


Margaret Eleanor Menninger


Chapter 1. The Play’s the Thing: Schiller, Wagner, and Gesamtkunstwerk
Nicholas Vazsonyi

Chapter 2. From the Gesamtkunstwerk to the Music Drama
Sanna Pederson

Chapter 3. Richard Wagner, Parsifal, and the Pursuit of Gesamtkunstwerk
Anthony J. Steinhoff


Chapter 4. Epic Gesamtkunstwerk
Joy H. Calico

Chapter 5. Gesamtkunstwerk, Gestaltung, and the Bauhaus Stage
Melissa Trimingham

Chapter 6. Exposing the Political Gesamtkunstwerk: Hanns Eisler’s Nuit et Brouillard
Amy Lynn Wlodarski

Chapter 7. Reconciling the “Three Graceful Hellenic Sisters”: Wagner, Dance, and “Song-Ballets”, Set to Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder
Wayne Heisler, Jr.


Chapter 8. The “Translucent (Not: Transparent)” Gesamtglaswerk
Jenny Anger

Chapter 9. Quiet Audience, Roaring Crowd: The Aesthetics of Sound and the Traces of Bayreuth in Kuhle Wampe and Triumph of the Will
Theodore F. Rippey

Chapter 10. The Will to Heal: Gesamtkunstwerk and Memorial Music since 1945
Julia Goodwin and Margaret Eleanor Menninger

Chapter 11. Consuming Voices: Musical Film and the Gesamtkunstwerk of Mass Culture
David Imhoof

Afterword: Gesamtkunstwerk as Epistemic Space
Kevin S. Amidon


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