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Reluctant Skeptic: Siegfried Kracauer and the Crises of Weimar Culture

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Volume 14

Spektrum: Publications of the German Studies Association

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Reluctant Skeptic

Siegfried Kracauer and the Crises of Weimar Culture

Harry T. Craver

294 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-458-0 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (February 2017)

ISBN  978-1-78920-836-8 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (January 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78533-459-7 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“Harry Craver’s rich and nuanced study revisits Kracauer’s nonconformist views and underscores the religious context in which they emerged… In portraying Kracauer’s reflections on religious concepts as emblematic of post–World War I German intellectual life, Craver sets the stage for a novel, intriguing discussion of Weimar modernity and its crisis.” • American Historical Review

Reluctant Skeptic opens a window into a moment and a place in time through in-depth analysisof Kracauer’s polyphonic engagement with pressing contemporary questions and the role of the critic in assessing them. It makes no claim that Kracauer’s perceptions of secularization and religion offer the paramount vantage point from which to take the measure of the crises we associate with Weimar, and it acknowledges that Kracauer’s attentiveness to religion ebbed in the later 1920s. It succeeds admirably in creating an intellectual milieu analogous to the socio-cultural or socio-denominational milieus explored in studies of Weimar political culture It also offers a fresh perspective on the intellectual uncertainties of the post-war era.” • German History

“In great and fascinating detail, Craver guides his readers through the confused intellectual landscape that was Weimar Germany and the confusing currents that swirled through Kracauer’s deeply fissured consciousness.” • Journal of European Studies

“Unpretentiously written and based on a judicious interpretation of a wide range of materials, Reluctant Skeptic contributes to our understanding not only of Siegfried Kracauer’s intellectual development, but also of Weimar culture as a whole.” • Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley


The journalist and critic Siegfried Kracauer is best remembered today for his investigations of film and other popular media, and for his seminal influence on Frankfurt School thinkers like Theodor Adorno. Less well known is his earlier work, which offered a seismographic reading of cultural fault lines in Weimar-era Germany, with an eye to the confrontation between religious revival and secular modernity. In this discerning study, historian Harry T. Craver reconstructs and richly contextualizes Kracauer’s early output, showing how he embodied the contradictions of modernity and identified the quasi-theological impulses underlying the cultural ferment of the 1920s.

Harry T. Craver holds a doctorate from the University of Toronto and currently teaches at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His work has appeared in publications such as New German Critique.

Subject: History: 20th Century to PresentCultural Studies (General)Media Studies
Area: Germany


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