The Unsurprising Truth: Content and Nation in 19th Century Germany

Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literature

First Advisor

Helmut Müller-Sievers

Second Advisor

Davide Stimilli

Third Advisor

David Ciarlo


During the first half of the 19th century German readers were confronted with the impact of a growing and increasingly commercial system of mass print publication. I address how readers and critics understood publishing practices and the pervasiveness of media in a way that staged conflicting understandings of nation, focusing in particular on two moments in the history of the German press. First, I discuss Ludwig Philippson's Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums within the context of the emergence of German-language Jewish publications. Next, I address the controversy surrounding "Young Germany" as part of a broader phenomenon of imagining mass publication as a space for negotiating national identity. I look at how a relationship between practices of publication and those of imagining group belonging underlies both examples and suggest a fundamental connection between strategies of procuring content for publication and understanding perceived national characteristics in the space of mass print media.

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