Margaret Stieg Dalton
“Works on the German Catholic subculture are few and far between. This book is based on extensive research into archival and published primary sources. It should be of interest to a wide variety of historians concerned with German history, cultural history, and the history of religion.” —Jonathan Sperber, University of Missouri, Columbia
Margaret Stieg Dalton offers a comprehensive study of the German Catholic cultural movement that lasted from the late nineteenth century until 1933. Rapidly advancing industrialization, higher literacy rates, rising real income, and increased leisure time created a demand for intellectually accessible entertainment. Technological developments not only gave rise to new forms of entertainment, but also to the means by which they were marketed and disseminated. At the same time, the effects of modernism were being felt in all areas of high culture. Dalton’s book examines the encounter of clergy and lay Catholics with both high culture and popular culture in Germany.
German Catholic culture was more than the product of an individual who happened to be Catholic; it was intellectual and artistic activity with a specifically Catholic stamp, a unique blend that offered distinctive variants of art, literature, and music. In response to the predominant Protestant, nationalistic culture, German Catholics attempted to create an alternative cultural universe that would insulate them from a world that seemed to threaten their faith. Dalton’s book provides detailed insight into the manner in which Catholics and other Germans tried to determine to what extent the new world could be accepted while still holding on to traditional values.
“This meticulously researched volume, rooted in studies across an impressive range of ecclesiastical and municipal archives, focuses principally on Catholic responses to the challenge of cultural modernism in Wilhelmine and Weimar Germany. Professor Dalton deals with all the major genres of intellectual and cultural activity which carried this specific denominational stamp, and which therefore stood in contrast not only to the majority culture with its Protestant and nationalist tenor but also to the rival minority culture being developed by the socialists. . . . Overall, this copiously referenced monography constitutes a very worthwhile study.” — History
“This well-written book illuminates neglected topics within the larger framework of late 19th-and early-20th-century German culture. . . .” — Choice
“In recent years, the study of German Catholicism has turned increasingly from the political sphere to the realm of culture. Margaret Stieg Dalton continues this trend in her examination of Catholic cultural production in Imperial and Weimar Germany. The book provides a wide-ranging, at times near-encyclopedic, compendium of Catholic activities, organizations, and opinions in a variety of cultural fields.” — Journal of Modern History
“One of the great advances of this study is the author’s ability to marshal an enormous amount of this otherwise inaccessible information into a coherent narrative and present it to an English-speaking audience. . . . Her book will go a long way in illuminating the Valkskultur of Weimar Germany up to the tragic precipice of Hitler’s thuggish rise to prominence.” — Catholic Library World
“Margaret Stieg Dalton has produced an excellent survey of German Catholic culture in the years of the second Reich and the Weimar Republic. . . . She combines detailed archival research with an impressive command of the scholarly literature in the field of German Catholicism and German culture. Her use of the literature in a number of subfields demonstrates the great care with which this study is produced. . . .” — History: Reviews of New Books
“Drawing on mostly printed material, Dalton has much to say about the Catholic cultural agenda, the clergy and laymen who provided intellectual leadership, their debates over goals and aims and the network of organizations that nurtured Catholic cultural ambitions.” — Journal of Ecclesiastical History
“Margaret Stieg Dalton’s penetrating examination of German Catholic culture from the Kulturkampf to the rise of National Socialism engages the reader on several levels at the same time. With its 73 pages of notes and 54 pages of bibliography, it documents the history of an era with a thoroughness that would delight the professional historian and student of the era. At the same time, the study moves beyond its carefully defined boundaries to provide a challenging exercise in analogy: How does the German experience translate into other countries and other periods, even the present?” — Archivum Historicum
“Dalton has recreated meticulously the debates that shaped Catholic artistic attitudes and activity and the cultural policies that helped to preserve identity at a time when the Catholic church was losing ground to modern rationalism, secularism, and materialism.” — Central European History
“[Dalton’s] book breaks ground in assessing the role of culture in the German Catholic milieu, exposes the internal problems behind the long-term failure of the confessional cultural movement, and lays a strong foundation for future research that would link this important topic to broader themes of modern German history.” — The Catholic Historical Review