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HISTORICAL REGIONS BETWEEN CONSTRUCTION AND PERCEPTION: VIEWING FRANCE AND POLAND IN THE LATE-EIGHTEENTH AND EARLY-NINETEENTH CENTURIES

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image of East Central Europe

Abstract: This essay tackles the problem of spatial imaginations, representations, and "mental maps." Its main point of reference is Larry Wolff's thesis that the division of Europe into an Eastern - backward and uncivilized - part, on the one hand, and a Western - modem and civilized - part, on the other, can be traced back to the late-eighteenth century. In the Enlightenment, according to Wolff, philosophers, writers, and above all travelers created this normative and value laden inner-European dichotomy. From the perspective of German travelogues on Poland and France published between roughly 1750 and 1850, Europe and its inner division appears in a completely different light. The perceptions, for instance, of travel infrastructure, rural life, and small provincial towns are widely identical. From the perspective of a bourgeois, educated, mostly Protestant traveler, originating from an urban background, the main dichotomy around 1800 was not the division between Eastern and Western Europe. The cleavages followed the division between urban and rural culture, bourgeois and peasant milieu, or between denominations, such as Protestantism and Catholicism.

10.1163/1876330805X00045
/content/journals/10.1163/1876330805x00045
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/content/journals/10.1163/1876330805x00045
2005-01-01
2016-12-04

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