Heimat and Buddenbrooks in the Age of Empire

Pisechko, Danielle, German - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Grossman, Jeffrey, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia

In 1871, the country of Germany was unified for the first time under Prussian empirical rule. Before this time, the different states and principalities were ruled by local princes or group ruling bodies. Unification of these different, yet similar, states gave rise to a national movement that promoted a concept similar to that of the United States’ e pluribus unum – out of many states, many cultures and customs, one nation could arise. This movement focused on the German concept “Heimat”, a term that can be most simply defined as a projection of personal identity onto a local/national community. The Heimat concept is uniquely personal for each German and encompasses geographical and cultural considerations. After 1871, the Heimat movement focused on regional particularities, and in doing so, highlighted the similarities between different German communities. In this way, a movement to define local difference had the effect of demonstrating and building national community. This thesis investigates the development of the concept of Heimat during this time and the actions of the leaders of Heimat movements in order to demonstrate how popular literature at the turn-of-the-century utilizes and subverts the concept of local Heimat, while still encouraging a national unity. For this purpose, the works of Clara Viebig, Das Kreuz im Venn (1908), and Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks: Verfall einer Familie (1901), will be analyzed.

MA (Master of Arts)
Heimat, Thomas Mann, Clara Viebig, Memory

There are citations in this thesis that are in German and untranslated.

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