Campus Units

World Languages and Cultures

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Book Chapter

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Submitted Manuscript

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Journal or Book Title

The Total Work of Art: Foundations, Articulations, Inspirations

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Last Page



For two centuries, Gesamtkunstwerk—the ideal of the “total work of art”—has exerted a powerful influence over artistic discourse and practice, spurring new forms of collaboration and provoking debates over the political instrumentalization of art. Despite its popular conflation with the work of Richard Wagner, Gesamtkunstwerk’s lineage and legacies extend well beyond German Romanticism, as this wide-ranging collection demonstrates. In eleven compact chapters, scholars from a variety of disciplines trace the idea’s evolution in German-speaking Europe, from its foundations in the early nineteenth century to its manifold articulations and reimaginings in the twentieth century and beyond, providing an uncommonly broad perspective on a distinctly modern cultural form.


This chapter appears in a larger collection published by Berghahn Books ( "Afterword: Gesamtkunstwerk as Epistemic Space.” In: David Imhoff, Margaret Menninger, and Anthony J. Steinhoff, eds. The Total Work of Art: Foundations, Articulations, Inspirations (New York: Berghahn Books, 2016): 249-57.

Copyright Owner

Berghahn Books



File Format


Available for download on Sunday, July 01, 2018

Published Version