Lecture by Ute Lotz-Heumann: Constructing a Heterotopia and Training the Tourist Gaze: The German Spa in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries
Prof. Ute Lotz-Heumann (University of Arizona)
Constructing a Heterotopia and Training the Tourist Gaze: The German Spa in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries
Comments: Christian Noack (UvA)
Friday 4 June 2021
10 am (online)
This paper will provide an overview of the vital role that late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century German spas played 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, training the “tourist gaze” and forming the basis for the cultural assumptions underlying modern tourism. Second, contemporaries perceived spas as social heterotopias – meeting places outside of everyday life 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.
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. Her research focuses on the religious history of early modern Ireland and on healing waters and spas in early modern and eighteenth-century Germany. Her book The German Spa in the Long Eighteenth Century: A Cultural History will appear with Routledge in July 2021.
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