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Title: Collaborating with the Enemy: Wartime Analyses of Nazi Germany
Authors: Ponten, Karl Frederic
Advisors: Wegmann, Nikolaus
Gordin, Michael D.
Contributors: German Department
Subjects: German literature
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: My dissertation, entitled Collaborating with the Enemy: Wartime Analyses of Nazi Germany, is the first in-depth study of 1940s interdisciplinary literature on the Nazi German enemy produced in the United States. As a basic assumption, I suggest that the collaboration between European émigrés and American scholars was a particularly productive moment in the history of the humanities and social sciences and had a transformative effect on US-American academic culture. Accordingly, I show in three detailed case studies how various authors, intellectuals, and social scientists worked in changing settings to deal, in their writing, with the German threat. The texts generated in this historical moment not only served as theoretical contributions; some of them were able to exert an immediate, real-world impact with consequences that last until today. At the same time, I argue, these applied studies were of major importance for the postwar reformation of the humanities and social sciences and significantly shaped the intellectual landscape in the United States. Analyzing the vast amount of texts and materials produced during World War II, my dissertation claims that the literary specificity of these collaborations that shaped the wartime discourse on Nazi Germany is best understood by focusing on the new uses of concepts and practices that the scholars’ respective disciplines and professions provided, such as legal bureaucracy, humanist bookishness and anthropological observation. This focus on analytic concepts and practices provides the link between the incommensurable and contingent biographies and careers of individual researchers, and the social constitution of their collaborative research within and between various institutions, such as the Office of Strategic Services, the Library of Congress and the Museum of Modern Art Film Library. The broad range of disciplines involved is therefore not the result of an additive procedure but should be indicative of a problem-oriented approach. My dissertation contributes especially to the historiography of German literature and the epoch of exile literature, but also to intellectual, institutional and political history, and to the history of various disciplines and fields such as sociology, folklore studies, history of ideas, film studies, media studies, social psychology, and cultural anthropology.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:German

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