Reading and Rebellion in Catholic Germany, 1770-1914

Reading and Rebellion in Catholic Germany, 1770-1914

by Jeffrey T. Zalar


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Popular conceptions of Catholic censorship, symbolized above all by the Index of Forbidden Books, figure prominently in secular definitions of freedom. To be intellectually free is to enjoy access to knowledge unimpeded by any religious authority. But how would the history of freedom change if these conceptions were false? In this panoramic study of Catholic book culture in Germany from 1770–1914, Jeffrey T. Zalar exposes the myth of faith-based intellectual repression. Catholic readers disobeyed the book rules of their church in a vast apostasy that raised personal desire and conscience over communal responsibility and doctrine. This disobedience sparked a dramatic contest between lay readers and their priests over proper book behavior that played out in homes, schools, libraries, parish meeting halls, even church confessionals. The clergy lost this contest in a fundamental reordering of cultural power that helped usher in contemporary Catholicism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781108460743
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 06/11/2020
Series: Publications of the German Historical Institute Series
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 621,431
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.82(d)

About the Author

Jeffrey T. Zalar is Associate Professor of History and the inaugural holder of the Ruth J. and Robert A. Conway Endowed Chair in Catholic Studies at the University of Cincinnati. He writes and lectures on the cultural and intellectual history of Roman Catholicism, the history of modern German religion, and the history of modern knowledge.

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. At the origins of Germany's book wars, 1770–1815; 2. Gall and honey in the Catholic theology of cultural taste; 3. Reading run amok in Prussia triumphant, 1815–1845; 4. Book mischief in the 'papal monarchy', 1845–1880; 5. Catholics and their 'deficit in education'; 6. The tail wags the dog: the lay rebellion against Catholic libraries after 1880; 7. Brave new world: lay reading in the libraries they want; 8. An appetite for pleasure: private reading in Germania Profana; Conclusion.

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