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Bergerson, Andrew S. / Baker, K. Scott / Martin, Clancy / Ostovich, Steve

The Happy Burden of History

From Sovereign Impunity to Responsible Selfhood

Series:Interdisciplinary German Cultural Studies 9

    94,95 € / $133.00 / £86.50*

    eBook (PDF)
    Publication Date:
    March 2011
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    Aims and Scope

    Germans are often accused of failing to take responsibility for Nazi crimes, but what precisely should ordinary people do differently? Indeed, scholars have yet to outline viable alternatives for how any of us should respond to terror and genocide. And because of the way they compartmentalize everyday life, our discipline-bound analyses often disguise more than they illuminate. Written by a historian, literary critic, philosopher, and theologian, The Happy Burden of History takes an integrative approach to the problem of responsible selfhood. Exploring the lives and letters of ordinary and intellectual Germans who faced the ethical challenges of the Third Reich, it focuses on five typical tools for cultivating the modern self: myths, lies, non-conformity, irony, and modeling. The authors carefully dissect the ways in which ordinary and intellectual Germans excused their violent claims to mastery with a sense of ‘sovereign impunity.’They then recuperate the same strategies of selfhoodfor our contemporary world, but in ways that are self-critical and humble. The book shows how viewing this problem from within everyday life can empower and encourage usto bear the burden of historical responsibility ‑ and be happy doing so.


    xv, 247 pages
    Type of Publication:
    National Socialism; Responsibility; Coming to Terms with the Past
    Academics, Departments, Libraries

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    Andrew Stuart Bergerson, K. Scott Baker, and Clancy Martin, University of Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Steve Ostovich, College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, Minnesota, USA.

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