Steamship Nationalism is a cultural, social, and political history of the S.S. Imperator, Vaterland, and Bismarck. Transatlantic passenger steamships launched by the Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Aktien-Gesellschaft (HAPAG) between 1912 and 1914, they do not enjoy the international fame of their British counterparts, most notably the Titanic. Yet the Imperator-class liners were the largest, most luxurious passenger vessels built before the First World War. In keeping with the often-overlooked history of its merchant marine as a whole, they reveal much about Imperial Germany in its national and international dimensions. As products of business decisions shaped by global dynamics and the imperatives of international travel, immigration, and trade, HAPAG’s giant liners bear witness to Germany’s involvement in the processes of globalization prior to 1914. Yet this book focuses not on their physical, but on their cultural construction in a variety of contemporaneous media, including the press and advertising, on both sides of the Atlantic. At home, they were presented to the public as symbolic of the nation’s achievements and ambitions in ways that emphasize the complex nature of German national identity at the time. Abroad, they were often construed as floating national monuments and, as such, facilitated important encounters with Germany, both virtual and real, for the populations of Britain and America. Their overseas reception highlights the multi-faceted image of the European superpower that was constructed in the Anglo-American world in these years. More generally, it is a pointed indicator of the complex relationship between Britain, the United States, and Imperial Germany.
Table of Contents
Introduction; 1. "My field is the world": HAPAG, Hamburg, Germany, and the globe; 2. "One of the greatest marvels devised by the human spirit": The transnational career, image, and appeal of the Imperator-class liners; 3. Picturing the Imperator: Making and debating seagoing monuments in Germany’s popular culture; 4. Swimming symbols of German art and design? Aby Warburg, Karl Scheffler, and German modernism at sea; 5. Outdoing Britain at what it did best? The Imperator-class liners in the context of Anglo-German relations; 6. Masterpieces "Made in Germany": The Imperator and Vaterland as ambassadors to the United States; Conclusion; Bibliography.
Mark A. Russell is Associate Professor at the Liberal Arts College of Concordia University in Montreal. He is the author of Between Tradition and Modernity: Aby Warburg and the Public Purposes of Art in Hamburg, 1896-1918 (2007).