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Jean Elisabeth Pedersen

“What is a nation?” Ernest Renan’s famous rhetorical question to an audience at the Sorbonne on 11 March 1882 has remained vital for a wide variety of scholars in fields as diverse as history, literary criticism, sociology, philosophy, and political science. Renan initially posed the question barely ten years after the close of the Franco-Prussian War, which had sparked the establishment of the French Third Republic, the unification of Germany under the leadership of Wilhelm I, and the transfer of the disputed territory of Alsace-Lorraine from French to German control in the months between July 1870 and May 1871. Renan made no overt mention of these events while he was speaking, but he rejected any possible answer to his question that might attempt to base the creation of nations and national identities on shared “race, language, [economic] interests, religious affinity, geography, [or] military necessities.” This explicit refusal constituted an implicit rejection of the entire range of German justifications for the acquisition of the two recently French border provinces.

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Brett Bowles

The politics of French and German cinema between the onset of the Great Depression and the end of World War II is far from a new topic of study. However, scholars have typically focused on one country or the other, rather than comparing the two, and prioritized high-profile directors (for example, Jean Renoir, Jean-Paul Le Chanois, Leni Riefenstahl, and Veit Harlan) whose work benefited from direct party sponsorship and served a clearly propagandistic function. Reflecting the evolution of cultural history and film studies over the past decade, this collection of essays seeks to enrich the traditional approach in three ways. The first is by expanding the definition of politics beyond official party or state discourse to include power-related issues such as representation of gender and gender roles; access to material resources including funding and technology; relationships between film creators and industry or government officials; and competition between commercial and ideological priorities in film production, censorship, and distribution.

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The Headscarf

A Political Symbol in Comparative and Historical Perspective

Elisa Wiygul

The headscarf has become a cultural flashpoint, a freighted symbol of many of the central social, cultural, political, and religious tensions of this first decade of the twenty-first century. When I first began to research the French controversy surrounding the Muslim headscarf in 2001, it was little known in the United States. Since then, the issue has attained global prominence. In late 2003, the Stasi Commission, which Prime Minister Jacques Chirac had appointed several months earlier, recommended a ban on wearing the Muslim headscarf in public primary and secondary schools.1 The legislature promptly passed such a ban, which became law on 15 March 2004.2 Since then, Germany, Turkey, and Britain, among other countries, have wrestled with their own headscarf controversies. The debate reached international proportions when the European Court of Human Rights upheld Turkey’s ban on the headscarf in universities, in the 2005 case of Sahin v. Turkey.

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Rethinking World War I

Occupation, Liberation, and Reconstruction

George Robb and W. Brian Newsome

atrocities as commonplace or as magnified by propagandists; the influence of the war on women’s work and relationship to the home; the extent to which food shortages in Germany were caused by the British blockade or by poor management of resources by German

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Romanticizing Difference

Identities in Transformation after World War I

Nadia Malinovich

: “What is this absurd dream, to implant Western science, Western thinking on Mount Scopus?” he asked rhetorically. 6 His response, which drew on the ideas of the German Jewish philosopher Martin Buber and the French Jewish orientalist scholar Sylvain

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Katherine Weikert and Elena Woodacre

Mesley, “Why German Bishops Could Not be Saved: Clerical Masculinities in the Works of Caesarius of Heisterbach” (paper presented at the Gender and Medieval Studies Conference, University of Winchester, January 9–11, 2014). 3 Katherine Weikert, “Closing

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Introduction

France’s Great War from the Edge

Susan B. Whitney

/Réflexions historiques special issue on World War I in 2016. 3 Three of that issue's six articles explored aspects of Germany's harsh occupation of large swathes of northeastern France. This forum on World War I, which originated as a session at the Western Society

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Voices that Matter?

Methods for Historians Attending to the Voices of the Past

Josephine Hoegaerts

temperate climes, there should be life and grace. The Frenchman's tones should be short, piquant, airy and gay. The German's, broad, slow, reverential. The Italian's, voluptuous and melodic. The Englishman's, positive, stubborn, formal.” 82 Such

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Introduction

Cultural Heritages and Their Transmission

Elizabeth C. Macknight

other parts of the world are further discussed in the third article of this special issue, which is written by Lorraine Macknight. Through careful examination of the cultural transmission of hymns, from nineteenth-century Germany and England to colonial