"All Power to the Imagination!": Art and Politics in the West German Counterculture from the Student Movement to the Greens (Modern German Culture and Literature)

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“All Power to the Imagination!” is a history of the counterculture’s immensely influential role in West German cultural and political life. Sabine von Dirke opens with an examination of nascent countercultural movements in West Germany during the 1950s. She then moves to a nuanced account of the student movement of the 1960s, describing its adaptation of the theories of Marcuse, Adorno, and Benjamin, then recounting its attack on “bourgeois” notions of the autonomy of art and culture. She next examines the subsequent development of a radical aesthetic and the effects of left-wing terrorism on Germany’s political climate. Later chapters focus on die tageszeitung, the ecology movement, and the rise of the Green Party. Von Dirke concludes by asking whether the evolution that this book traces—from Marxist-influenced critiques of culture and society to more diverse, less doctrinaire left-wing positions—represents progress or a betrayal of radical ideals. An ambitious study of the German left, this book is an important contribution to our understanding of postwar European history.

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About the Author:

Sabine von Dirke is an assistant professor of German at the University of Pittsburgh. Her articles have appeared in German Studies Review, Germanic Review, and German Politics and Society.

Review:

“The volume explores the intricacies of the culture of protest.”—Russell Berman, Stanford University (Russell Berman)

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