Synopses & Reviews
The Emancipation of Writing is the first study of writing in its connection to bureaucracy, citizenship, and the state in Germany. Stitching together micro- and macro-level analysis, it reconstructs the vibrant, textually saturated civic culture of the German southwest in the aftermath of the French Revolution and Napoleon's invasions. Ian F. McNeely reveals that Germany's notoriously oppressive bureaucracy, when viewed through the writing practices that were its lifeblood, could also function as a site of citizenship. Citizens, acting under the mediation of powerful local scribes, practiced their freedoms in written engagements with the state. Their communications laid the basis for civil society, showing how social networks commonly associated with the free market, the free press, and the voluntary association could also take root in powerful state institutions.
A path-breaking reassessment of the relations between state and citizen in Germany during the transition from premodern to modern society.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 253-323) and index.
"A superbly crafted major intervention into the hotly contested issue of German civil society - its origins, formation, and fate. McNeely turns the tables on deconstructive approaches to formalism in writing and shows how writing was thoroughly implicated in state power and corporate culture."and#151;David Sabean, author of Kinship in Neckarhausen, 1700-1870
"This work's use of archival evidence to overhaul grand theory puts it in a league of its own. McNeely crafts a startlingly original argument about the inventions of citizenship and of modern political culture. It will be required if unsettling reading for anyone pondering the legacies of Tocqueville, Habermas, or Foucault."and#151;Richard Biernacki, author of The Fabrication of Labor: Germany and Britain, 1640-1914
About the Author
Ian F. McNeely is Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon.
Table of Contents
OFFICIAL POWER AND THE PAPER TRAIL
Chapter 1 The civic landscape
Chapter 2 The tutelage of the scribes
The formality of daily life
Manipulations of authority
Crisis in the writing trades
Chapter 3 The Black Forest Cahier
Networks of collegiality
Provincials and cosmopolitans
A breach of protocol
Chapter 4 Constitutional fetishism
Litigating local conflict
Democratization by codification
Heinrich Bolley v. the king
INSCRIBING A SPACE OF FREEDOM
Chapter 5 Transcending "textual serfdom"
Tutelage on a new terrain
The reconstitution of politics
Chapter 6 Reading, writing, and reform
Edicts: the letter of the law
Sociography and enforcement
Chapter 7 Cataloging the social world
Encyclopedism as local passion
Chapter 8 The intelligence gazettes
Reaching the citizenry
The market for information