James M. Brophy, professor of history at the University of Delaware, has been awarded a summer research fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support his archival research in Germany this summer.
His project, "Citizens of Print: Democratic Publishers in Germany, 1770-1850," focuses on the ways in which publishers delivered liberal and democratic texts to German readers. It explores how citizenship ideals of the Atlantic world penetrated central Europe and, conversely, how German texts circulated in Western Europe and North America.
"In spite of relatively severe censorship restrictions, German publishers printed literature on constitutions, republicanism and individual rights, thereby entwining the political cultures of western and central Europe," Brophy said.
He contends that the age of democratic revolution significantly affected German political culture.
"The research focuses on a select but influential group of German printers who mixed shrewd business instincts with liberal-democratic sensibilities to market a new brand of political print," Brophy said. Such printers as Friedrich Brockhaus, Johann Cotta, Otto Wigand and Heinrich Hoff, among others, altered reading cultures, he said, noting their "outsize personalities, claims for press freedom and their belief in political reform."
Brophy plans to work this summer in state archives in Leipzig, Dresden and Marbach an der Neckar. His archival work will serve as a major component of his book project, A Civic Nation: Publishers and Political Discourse in Germany, 1770-1870.
He is the author of Popular Culture and the Public Sphere in the Rhineland, 1800-1850 and Capitalism, Politics, and Railroads in Prussia, 1830-1870 and co-editor of the two-volume Perspectives from the Past: Primary Sources in Western Civilizations.