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Material Moments in Book Cultures

Essays in Honour of Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser

Edited By Simon Rosenberg and Sandra Simon

This Festschrift honours the dedicated book historian and medievalist Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser. Her wide-ranging scholarly expertise has encouraged and influenced many adepts of the book. The essays in this volume reflect the variety of her interests: The contributions range from Chaucer’s Fürstenspiegel to the value of books in comedy, from the material book to the magical book in religious and literary cultures, from collaborative efforts in manuscript production to the relations of distributors of books across national and ideological boundaries, from the relations between the makers of books to the relation of readers to their books. Covering a period from the Middle Ages to the present, the volume concludes with a look at the future of book history as a field of study.
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Marketing Socialism? Sales Strategies for rororo rotfuchs, a Left-Wing Children’s Paperback Series in the 1970s

Extract

Corinna Norrick-Rühl, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz

Abstract

The West German Rowohlt Verlag launched a paperback series for children, rororo rotfuchs, in 1972. Using archival records from the Mainzer Verlagsarchiv, this contribution analyses the intricate relationship between the left-wing rotfuchs books and Rowohlt’s capitalist marketing strategies.

In the 1970s, the German Studies scholar Jack Zipes published two articles discussing a distinct leftward movement in West German publishing, in particular in certain children’s and young adult programmes.1 He showed that this shift was motivated and influenced by the ideas of the student protest movement that had begun in West Germany in 1968, which, among other things, propagated educational reform from the pre-school to the university level. Besides these brief articles by Zipes, the 1970s West German market for children’s and young adult literature has not received much scholarly attention in the Anglophone world. In fact, even in the German-speaking world, the particularities of this market in the 1970s, especially its rapport with the political developments of the period, have not been treated much at all, though they are exceptionally illustrative of the intricate relationships between texts, publishers, and readers that lie at the heart of book historical research.

The dynamics of the student protest movement and its effects on the 1970s West German market for adult readers, on the other hand, have been studied extensively.2 As early as 1969, Dieter E. Zimmer explained in the weekly national newspaper Die Zeit why the relationship...

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