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Shifting Boundaries of Decency in Weimar Germany, a Talk by Edward R. Dickinson

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Shifting Boundaries of Decency in Weimar Germany, a Talk by Edward R. Dickinson
May 15, 2017 12:00 pm
May 15, 2017 1:30 pm
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Time: 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Location: 4217 SSH

In early twentieth century Germany public indecency was considered a threat to public order.  Moral conservatives believed that the public display of the naked body or sexually suggestive images and objects incited illicit desire and thereby undermined the individual’s capacity for self-discipline, and hence for obedience to the law more generally (not only moral, but civil and criminal as well).  Lewdness was thus associated directly with crime and political disorder, even revolution.  In the course of the 1920s, however, perceptions regarding what was indecent shifted very substantially, making the problem of definitions of indecency ever more acute.  The courts and legislators scrambled to articulate legal standards that both satisfied moral conservatives and were flexible enough to accommodate this rapid shift in popular perceptions.  Their failure to accomplish that balancing act played an important role in the collapse of democratic politics after 1928.  This paper will look at a number of emblematic cases in which the legal system, administrative agencies, and non-governmental organizations wrestled with the question of what forms of public behavior endangered public order.

This event is sponsored by Department of History Colloquium

For more information please contact: Corrie Decker, crdecker@ucdavis.edu

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