Sarah L. Leonard: Fragile Minds and Vulnerable Souls: The Matter of Obscenity in Nineteenth-Century Germany
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Writing about “Germany” before 1870 is difficult. You never know where the borders were. Some states were influenced by France, whereas others banned every French influence from their legal body. Each German state had a different notion of what “obscenity” might be and how a bureaucracy should handle it. This area hasn’t been researched by historians so far. In most cases, discoveries were by-catch from other investigations. The term “obscenity” was defined by literature—but literature meant thirst for education, which wasn’t yet in every corner of Germany. Pietistic gentry in Baden was interested in reading, but Bavarian catholic middle class did not follow. Sara Leonard, Associate Professor of History at Simmons College in Boston mentions all these problems, but she uses them as points of reference to write her interesting book. She describes broad effects of erotic literature for bureaucracy, political liberalism, medicine, and publishing companies.
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