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The Dynastic Imagination: Family and Modernity in Nineteenth-Century Germany

Adrian Daub
University of Chicago Press
Adrian Daub’s The Dynastic Imagination offers an unexpected account of modern German intellectual history through frameworks of family and kinship. Modernity aimed to brush off dynastic, hierarchical authority and to make society anew through the mechanisms of marriage, siblinghood, and love. It was, in other words, centered on the nuclear family. But as Daub shows, the dynastic imagination persisted, in time emerging as a critical stance by which the nuclear family’s conservatism and temporal limits could be exposed. Focusing on the complex interaction between dynasties and national identity-formation in Germany, Daub shows how a lingering preoccupation with dynastic modes of explanation, legitimation, and organization suffused German literature and culture.
Adrian Daub is professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, where he also directs the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research.