Hans-Christof Kraus. Kultur, Bildung und Wissenschaft im 19. Jahrhundert. Vol. 82 of Enzyklopaedie Deutscher Geschichte. Munich: Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 2008. xiv + 168 pp. EUR 19.80 (paper), ISBN 978-3-486-55727-5.
Reviewed by Thomas Adam (The University of Texas at Arlington)
Published on H-German (October, 2010)
Commissioned by Benita Blessing
A Too-Brief Introduction to Nineteenth-Century Education and Culture
The thematic volumes of the Enzyklopädie deutscher Geschichte, like Grundrisse der Geschichte (both published by Oldenbourg), have become a staple among historians of German history. These volumes present a general overview of a specific topic or time period, a well-organized introduction into the historiographical debates surrounding that topic and a selected but extensive bibliography.
With volume 82 of the Enzyklopädie deutscher Geschichte, Hans-Christof Kraus presents a treatise on nineteenth-century culture, schooling, and education. Kraus has attempted, without much success, to provide a broad overview of nineteenth-century culture and education. To be fair, he acknowledges in his introduction that he has undertaken the impossible: to provide a concise discussion of all things cultural and intellectual in nineteenth-century Germany within fifty-six pages (the rest of the book is devoted to further resources).
The book starts with a brief discussion about the level of reading knowledge among nineteenth-century Germans, and continues with a far too short history of literature, art, and music. And here the problems begin. Certainly, the structure of this series and the publisher's imposed page limit enforced a concise treatment of the topics in this book. Yet, the brief discussions devolve into superficial and meaningless text. Three-and-a-half pages, for instance, are insufficient at best to summarize the history of nineteenth-century German literature (pp. 5-7). The superficiality here is matched by gaps in other sections of the book. Museums, to note one glaring example, receive less than a page of discussion, with the author limiting himself without explanation to those museums founded by royalty (p. 58). Kraus differentiated only between three types of museums: first, museums founded by princes; second, historical museums, and third, applied arts museums. This typology is untenable, given the considerable number of museums and art galleries founded throughout nineteenth-century Germany by the bourgeoisie. Many of these museums and art galleries, including the Frankfurt Städel Museum, later were embroiled in debates about their obligations to return artwork stolen during the Nazi period to the original owners. The omission of these institutions' provenance and role in the development of philanthropic practices is thus a grave oversight.
Libraries and other institutions related to education do not fare better in this volume. Kraus refers exclusively to state (national) and university libraries (pp. 38-39). Absent are city libraries, libraries founded by private reading associations, and the libraries created by the Social Democratic movement. The latter were essential to the growth of the socialist movement and, in particular, the expansion of educational opportunities in nineteenth-century Germany. Similarly, sections C.1 and C.2 deal with the school and university system, without any mention of newer educational developments, such as vocational training or adult education.
The volume generally ignores newer research about the financial aspects of culture and education (philanthropy). And while much still has to be done in this field, this work would certainly have merited an entry in the second part of the book, which discusses historiographical questions and research trends (pp. 57-81). Given the book's brevity, Kraus could have done more with his volume by focusing more narrowly on education as his starting point, omitting the separate sections on literature and art. In this manner, the volume's objective of providing an introduction to education and culture would have allowed the author to provide a useful overview for a variety of audiences. Revisions of this magnitude are unlikely; however, one can hope for more successful volumes in this series.
. See the "Provenance Research Project," http://www.staedelmuseum.de/sm/index.php?StoryID=633&websiteLang=en (accessed July 2010).
. See, for example, Thomas Adam, ed. Philanthropy, Patronage, and Civil Society: Experiences from Germany, Great Britain, and North America (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004); Bernhard Ebneth, Stipendienstiftungen in Nürnberg: Eine Historische Studie zum Funktionszusammenhang der Ausbildungsförderung für Studenten am Beispiel einer Großstadt (15.-20. Jahrhundert) (Nürnberg: Stadtarchiv Nürnberg, 1994); Manuel Frey, Macht und Moral des Schenkens: Staat und bürgerliche Mäzene vom späten 18. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart (Berlin: Fannei & Walz, 1999); and Manuel Frey and Jürgen Kocka, eds. Bürgerkultur und Mäzenatentum im 19. Jahrhundert (Berlin: Fannei & Walz, 1998).
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Thomas Adam. Review of Kraus, Hans-Christof, Kultur, Bildung und Wissenschaft im 19. Jahrhundert..
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