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Changing perceptions about history necessarily color the critical reception of historical plays, not only in terms of expectations regarding historical accuracy, but also in judgments about the value and suitability of historical material for the stage. The German playwright, poet, and philosopher Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805), often called the father of modern German drama, broke new ground with his late historical plays -- the Wallenstein trilogy, Maria Stuart, and Die Jungfrau von Orleans -- and they have thus generated a continuous stream of criticism since their appearance in the early nineteenth century. In this book Kathy Saranpa maps out three related strands: the reception history of Schiller's late historical plays; the changing view of history, from the notion of Universalgeschichte propounded by Herder to the American New Historicism; and the changing status of the genre of the historical drama. The juxtaposition of these three strands will interest scholars of German literature; readers from other fields will appreciate the book's value as an introduction to the work of an often misunderstood but vastly important figure in German belles lettres and philosophy.

Kathy Saranpa received her Ph.D. in German literature from Yale University, and has taught at the universities of Wisconsin and Oregon.


Very interesting arguments about the intellectual history of history and the historical readings of Schiller....Thought-provoking. GERMAN QUARTERLY


First Published: 15 Jan 2002
13 Digit ISBN: 9781571131553
Pages: 179
Size: 9 x 6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Camden House
BIC Class: DSB

Details updated on 30 Apr 2016


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  The Legacy of the Enlightenment: Criticism by Schiller's Contemporaries
  • 3  Hegel, Herder, and Ranke: Schiller during the Century of Historicism
  • 4  The Metaphysical Crisis, the First World War, and the Aftermath
  • 5  Schiller's Late Historical Plays and the Third Reich
  • 6  Schiller from the Left: Early Leftist Criticism and Criticism in the German Democratic Republic
  • 7  The Federal Republic of Germany and Post-(re)unification Criticism
  • 8  Works Cited
  • 9  Index