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Dreamland of Humanists


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About the Author

Emily J. Levine is assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Born in New York City, she lives in Durham, North Carolina.


"During the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century, a small coterie of intellectual and cultural figures succeeded into transforming Hamburg, however briefly, into one of the cultural capitals of Europe. Levine's Dreamland of Humanists is an intellectual history of this important, and underappreciated, place and time. . . . Levine has contributed a major volume to the project of reestablishing the intellectual significance of Warburg, Cassirer, and Panofsky for twentieth century humanist thought, and the cultural transformation of the city that sustained them."

-- "MAKE Literary Magazine"
"Dreamland of Humanists is more than a detailed chronicle of a unique research institute in exile. Levine's main focus is the cultural life of Hamburg during the Weimar Republic and its effects on the three scholars who were involved in creating the Warburg Institute. If anything, her book is reminiscent of Allan Janik and Stephen Toulmin's Wittgenstein's Vienna in capturing the spirit of a particular city and a remarkable group of intellectuals. . . . Clearly written, copiously detailed and a fine example of intellectual and cultural history."-- "European Legacy"
"From its inception in the early 1900s to its relocation to London in 1933, the Warburg Library in Hamburg was a symbol of holistic cultural study and humanistic learning, while the men most closely associated with the Library--Aby Warburg, Erwin Panofsky, and Ernst Cassirer--were vital to the symbolic turn that marked so much of twentieth-century thought. Emily Levine skillfully weaves together three men, a library, and a city in this compelling study of a crucial moment in modern intellectual history. She significantly enhances our understanding of the ideas and the shared urban and institutional context of these pivotal thinkers, while recasting Weimar culture in light of a shifting focus from the capital to Germany's 'second' city."
--Warren Breckman, author of Adventures of the Symbolic: Postmarxism and Radical Democracy
"If there is any example of an intellectual history with its feet on the ground, then it would be Levine's thoroughly researched and beautifully told story of the Warburg library. More than a book about a place, an institution, and a handful of intellectuals, Dreamland of Humanists is an unparalleled geography of twentieth century intellectual life, and a key to its countless codes and mysteries."-- "German History"
"Levine gets it right. Her accounts are characterized by an impressive intellectual reach and stupendous scholarship. . . . Levine offers more than a contribution to the cultural and intellectual history of twentieth-century Germany, the Weimar period, or the development of the disciplines of art history, cultural history, and philosophy. Dreamland of Humanists is an examination into the principal conditions under which great ideas can thrive--anywhere in the world."-- "German Studies Review"

"Levine's book succeeds very well, too, in carrying out another mission, and that is to understand exactly what difference the 'Jewishness' of the three protagonists made in their lives and ideas. . . . Never pushing the case too hard, Levine shows that all these figures lived and worked keenly aware of the cultural prejudices around them, trying, in various ways, to transcend them. Levine deserves much credit for having given us new insight into these figures by setting them firmly into the loamy soil of Hamburg. . . . This is a fine book, and I hope it will provoke the writing of more studies of liberal intellectuals and their hometowns."

--Suzanne Marchand "Journal of Modern History"
"Dreamland of Humanists is a deeply researched, well-structured, and elegantly written work of history that brings to life the city of Hamburg, a place that, thanks to its unique Hanseatic economic and political traditions, served as a welcome home for the Warburg Library and the three German Jewish intellectuals most closely associated with its name. Levine should be commended."--Peter E. Gordon "author of Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos"
"Insightful, interesting, and sophisticated, Dreamland of Humanists not only contributes to our individual and collective knowledge of the Warburg school but it sheds new light on the intellectual and political struggles and ultimately tragic fate of Weimar culture as a whole. I would go so far as to state that this is a work that I have been waiting for."--Steven E. Aschheim, author of Beyond the Border: The German-Jewish Legacy Abroad

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