"The Germans eating Sour Krout"
Reading The Germans feed exclusively on sauerkraut, the French are fashion-conscious and vain, the Dutch only think of profit. Stereotypes about cultural characteristics of entire nations have been circulating in the world for centuries, and some have survived to the present day. A folklorist from Münster is now trying to trace the emergence of stereotypes by means of English cartoons and utility graphics from the 18th century. The project entitled "Stereotype and Image Medium" is under the direction of Ruth-Elisabeth Mohrmann from the Department of Folklore / European Ethnology of the University of Münster. Silke Meyer, a PhD student at the Department of Folklore in Münster, has found a particularly rich source for her work: the British Museum in London has well over 10, 000 commercial art sheets from several centuries. She chose the 18th century as the starting point for her investigations, because at that time the development of nation states began. In addition, from 1700 to 1800, England was at war with changing opponents for more than 75 years, which was only conducive to the production of cartoons. In addition, English printmaking was already well developed at that time.

The caricatures and other utility graphics Meyer examined according to established criteria. The clothes, food, facial expressions, bodies and postures of the persons depicted, as well as recurring features, give information about how the English saw their neighbors.

The Dutch had become serious economic competitors of the English after the Thirty Years' War. Therefore, at the end of the 17th and at the beginning of the 18th century, they get off to a very bad result in the graphics. In later wars, the British also blamed them for being neutral and focusing on trade. In most caricatures, the Dutchman is depicted as a fat, stocky figure, legs apart and with his hands in his pockets. As a constant attribute a whistle appears.

A change can be seen in the depiction of the French: before the revolution of 1789, French people are portrayed as vain and addicted to words. She was portrayed with a delicate body shape and a pointed expression. After the revolution, the French appear to the English as haggard, pinched and neglected. display

In the caricatures of the Germans, it is striking that there is no bundle of stereotypes here, as in the portrayals of other peoples. Only sauerkraut and quill appear as the only established attributes (see picture of Germans eating sauerkraut). This explains Meyer on the one hand by the fact that Germany had not yet grown together into a state at this time, and on the other hand with the predominantly positive attitude of the Englishmen against the Germans. Through the dynastic relations between England and Hanover? Since George I had conquered the throne in 1714, was the Elector of Hanover king of England? the English were very friendly towards the Germans.

The importance of commercial graphics for everyday life in the 18th century should not be underestimated. They were often collected in albums, they adorned the walls of the bourgeoisie and even poor households and served as a starting point for political discussions. They were sold in shops and on the street and sometimes brought to the people by the government itself.

Doris Marszk

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