The German Spa in the Long Eighteenth Century : A Cultural History book cover
1st Edition

The German Spa in the Long Eighteenth Century
A Cultural History

ISBN 9780367440954
Published August 12, 2021 by Routledge
362 Pages 39 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Shifting the focus from the medical use of spas to their cultural and social functions, this study shows that eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century German spas served a vital role as spaces where new ways of perceiving the natural environment and conceptualizing society were disseminated. Although spas continued to be places of health and healing, their function and perception in central Europe changed fundamentally around the middle of the eighteenth century. This transformation of the role of the spa occurred in two ways. First, the spa popularized a new perception of the landscape with a preference for mountains and the seacoast, forming the basis for the cultural assumptions underlying modern tourism. Second, contemporaries perceived spas as meeting places comparable to institutions of Enlightenment sociability like coffeehouses, salons, and Masonic lodges. Spas were conceived as spaces where the nobility and the bourgeoisie could interact on an equal footing, thereby overcoming the constraints of early modern social boundaries. These changes were negotiated through both personal interactions at spas and an increasingly sophisticated published spa discourse. The late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century German spa thus helped to bring about social and cultural modernity.

Table of Contents


Part I: Foundations

1. Spas from the Late Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century

2. Spas as Centers of Communication: Face-to-Face Interactions and Print Culture

Part II: Space and Time

Introduction to Part II

3. Reinventing the Eighteenth-Century Spa as a Leisure Space

4. Spas and Seaside Resorts on the Cusp of Modern Tourism: New Perceptions of Nature and a Daily Routine

Part III: Meeting Place

Introduction to Part III

5. The Spa in the Eighteenth Century: From Social Hierarchy to New Demands for Equality

6. Nobility and Bourgeoisie at the Spa: Creating Unity and Maintaining Differences


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Ute Lotz-Heumann is Heiko A. Oberman Professor in the Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies (DLMRS) and the Department of History and Director of DLMRS at the University of Arizona.