Interdisciplinary Contributions to Contemporary Cultural Debates
Edited By Gail K. Hart and Anke S. Biendarra
Reich or Nation? Versions of European Statehood in the Treaty of Westphalia (1648)
Reich or Nation?Versions of European Statehood in the Treaty of Westphalia (1648)
Jane O. Newman
“One cannot link the feelings of the baroque simply to the political structure of absolutist monarchy. For there are enough signs pointing in other directions.”
– Carl J. Friedrich, The Age of the Baroque, 1610–1660 (42)
Thinking the Present with the Past
In the Fall, 2012, issue of New Literary History (NLH) (43), “A New Europe,” editor Rita Felski cites Turkish-French sociologist Nilüfer Göle’s claim that “any new Europe” can really only be a “new old Europe.” In its original context, Göle’s remark was surely meant critically. Felski nevertheless chooses to translate its significance into a potentially positive frame. The “weight of [Europe’s] past” is a burden, to be sure. But, she writes, Europe’s past is also a possible “reservoir” of differently configured “democratic” and “self-critical thought” (vi). Felski is correct to take the history of Europe seriously, especially as the history of “Europe” as a political, social, and economic collective beyond the nation-state. Pre- and early modernity provides a particularly useful optic for considering alternative solutions to some of the more testy stand-offs between the various more and less robust member-states that continue to fracture the EU; while Felski was probably not thinking of these periods when she appealed to the past as containing a potentially rich fund of enabling political models for today’s world, they could serve her purpose...
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