Cult Of The Will: Nervousness And German Modernity

Paperback | January 4, 2013

byMichael Cowan

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Cult of the Will is the first comprehensive study of modernity’s preoccupation with willpower. From Nietzsche’s “will to power” to the fantasy of a “triumph of the will” under Nazism, the will—its pathologies and potential cures—was a topic of urgent debates in European modernity. In this study, Michael Cowan examines the emergence of “will therapy” and its impact on arts and culture in Germany after 1900. The book’s five chapters lead readers through cross sections of modern German cultural history, including not only literature and aesthetics but also medicine, economics, body culture, and pedagogy. Modernity’s fixation on willpower helped prepare the way for fascism, but this trajectory is not Cowan’s main concern. His focus falls rather on more widespread “technologies of the self” and their role in the effort to reimagine agency for a modern subject caught up in increasingly complex systemic networks.

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Cult of the Will is the first comprehensive study of modernity’s preoccupation with willpower. From Nietzsche’s “will to power” to the fantasy of a “triumph of the will” under Nazism, the will—its pathologies and potential cures—was a topic of urgent debates in European modernity. In this study, Michael Cowan examines the emergence of ...

Michael Cowan is Assistant Professor of German Studies at McGill University. With Kai Marcel Sicks, he is co-editor of Leibhaftige Moderne: Körper in Kunst und Massenmedien, 1918–1933 (2005).

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:360 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.79 inPublished:January 4, 2013Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271058730

ISBN - 13:9780271058733

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Reimagining the Will in the Age of Nervousness

1. Capitalism and Abulia

Entr'acte: Willpower in the Age of Enterprise

2. Healing the Will: Popular Medicine and the Emergence of Will Therapy

3. Training the Will: Gymnastics and Body Culture

4. Educating the Will: Reform Pedagogy and the School of Rhythm

5. Mapping the Will: European Nervousness and American Willpower.

Afterword: Notes on the Persistence of Will Therapy

Bibliography

Notes

Index

Editorial Reviews

“This story has been often told, but Cowan has found a fascinating and altogether novel way of retelling it, through the lens of the turn-of-the-century preoccupation with overcoming the condition of will impairment, or abulia.

—Andreas Killen, Central European History