Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Reading and Rebellion in Catholic Germany, 1770–1914


Part of Publications of the German Historical Institute

  • Date Published: November 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108472906

£ 75.00

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Popular conceptions of Catholic censorship, symbolized above all by the Index of Forbidden Books, figure prominently in secular definitions of freedom. To be intellectually free is to enjoy access to knowledge unimpeded by any religious authority. But how would the history of freedom change if these conceptions were false? In this panoramic study of Catholic book culture in Germany from 1770–1914, Jeffrey T. Zalar exposes the myth of faith-based intellectual repression. Catholic readers disobeyed the book rules of their church in a vast apostasy that raised personal desire and conscience over communal responsibility and doctrine. This disobedience sparked a dramatic contest between lay readers and their priests over proper book behavior that played out in homes, schools, libraries, parish meeting halls, even church confessionals. The clergy lost this contest in a fundamental reordering of cultural power that helped usher in contemporary Catholicism.

    • Contains lively and detailed accounts of popular rebellion at the core of the Catholic church as Catholics resisted their church's book rules
    • Challenges dominant perceptions by highlighting that the most important structuring force of change in the modern church was popular literacy
    • Addresses the national integration of a minority group
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'With the scarcity of English language works on nineteenth-century German Catholic culture, Zalar's study is truly welcomed. He has produced a brilliant [and] sophisticated examination of the changing reading habits of Catholics over two centuries.' Kevin P. Spicer, Contemporary Church History Quarterly

    'Zalar's work illustrates how German Catholics engaged in a long process of resistance against clerical direction and authority over what lay Catholics read … This resistance demonstrates fundamental problems with traditional conceptions of clerical authority over the laity, it questions the religious milieu's cohesion and it gives lay Catholics … much greater agency in their own history as Catholics and Germans.' Eric Yonke, German History

    'A fluently written historical narrative … Zalar's account is a very welcome one that engages with the research on Catholicism and enlarges it in a promising way.' Bernward Schmidt, Historische Zeitschrift

    'Zalar here makes a distinguished contribution to the rich historiography of German Catholicism that has developed from the 1990s.' Oliver Logan, European History Quarterly

    'Zalar's willingness … to explore issues too often overlooked - popular religion, reading habits, book culture - make this volume an impressive discussion of cultural response to those socio-economic and political changes that accompanied Catholic Germany's transition to modernity.' Ronald J. Ross, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108472906
    • length: 398 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. At the origins of Germany's book wars, 1770–1815
    2. Gall and honey in the Catholic theology of cultural taste
    3. Reading run amok in Prussia triumphant, 1815–1845
    4. Book mischief in the 'papal monarchy', 1845–1880
    5. Catholics and their 'deficit in education'
    6. The tail wags the dog: the lay rebellion against Catholic libraries after 1880
    7. Brave new world: lay reading in the libraries they want
    8. An appetite for pleasure: private reading in Germania Profana

  • Author

    Jeffrey T. Zalar, University of Cincinnati
    Jeffrey T. Zalar is Associate Professor of History and the inaugural holder of the Ruth J. and Robert A. Conway Endowed Chair in Catholic Studies at the University of Cincinnati. He writes and lectures on the cultural and intellectual history of Roman Catholicism, the history of modern German religion, and the history of modern knowledge.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.