Sabine Hake is the Texas Chair of German Literature and Culture at The University of Texas at Austin. A cultural historian working on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Germany, she is the author of seven monographs, including Topographies of Class: Modern Architecture and Mass Society in Weimar Berlin (2008). Her most recent book, The Proletarian Dream: Socialism, Culture, and Emotion in Germany 1863-1933 (2017) won the 2016-17 MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures. She is currently working on the second volume, The German Worker: Reimagining Class in the Third Reich. For more information, see sabinehake.com.
The spirited defense of autonomous art by Theo van Doesburg, Hans Arp, and Kurt Schwitters and their denunciation of “proletarian” as a symptom of everything wrong with politically engaged art attest to the deep divides that haunted the culture and society of the Weimar Republic. Their manifesto presented formal innovation as the conduit to aesthetic autonomy and celebrated modern art as liberation from social determinations, national differences, and historical influences.