Lieder für den Landmann. Kultur-, medien- und bildungsgeschichtliche Aspekte der Volksaufklärung im späten 18. Jahrhundert
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At the end of the 18th century and as part of the enlightenment, the so-called “folk” came into the view of the educated world: On the one hand as an object of wellmeaning charity; on the other hand as the carrier of cultural heritage. Perhaps for the first time in modern history, rural and lower class sections of the population were perceived as people deserving attention and education for their own sake. At that time, newly written songs and popular reading materials served the purpose of educating; such songs and reading materials were to eliminate and replace the conventional and supposedly vapid and immoral ones of the past. At the same time, romantics were seeking traditional and unadulterated “folk songs” – which they collected and publicised as old national folklore. Together with the corresponding aesthetic ideals, the educated classes delighted themselves in the “simplicity” and “naturalness” of rural existence as they saw it and experienced it from varying degrees of distance. In the songs of the enlightenment, the rural population was invoked to live demurely, frugally, and piously; freely according to their own dignity, which was due to them on the basis of their social position and their work. The disciplinary aspects should not be overlooked here; at the same time, one is not able to deny the enlighteners’ desire to enact practical, ethical and religious reforms in order to make the peasant’s life easier and to bring him into a state of greater self-awareness. To which degree this succeeded via the help of songs must remain open, as should the question of how the innovations in song were perceived and used by their audience.
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