First Advisor

Steven Fuller

Term of Graduation


Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in German


World Languages and Literatures




Peter Schumann (1934- ), Puppet theater -- German-speaking Europe -- History, German-speaking Europe -- Social life and customs, Germany -- Folklore



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 68 pages)


This work begins with a brief history of puppet theater in Germany. A look at important social aspects, pertinent philosophical discussions and the significance of puppet theater in the German literary tradition follow. The final chapter looks at Peter Schumann, a German puppeteer and artist who lives in America. In Germanistik, German puppet theater deserves a devoted place in the field of legitimate study in terms of its history, content and influence.

Puppet theater's historical development in Germany represents the larger evolution of Germany. From ancient times up to the present day, this artistic form of representation has enjoyed an audience in the German-speaking regions. The evolution of puppet theater parallels Germany's quest for legitimacy as a nation and desire for cultural unification.

A study of puppet theater thematizes the issue of popular cultural history. For most of its existence in Germany, puppet theater served as popular entertainment. The conception of folk art and folklore - which includes puppet theater - by the German Romantics led them to believe that folk artists possessed a mysterious authenticity inaccessible to Classicists and their narrowly-defined world of high art. Much German literature and thought from the 19th century onward shows a fondness for the Volk aspect of puppet theater. Puppet theater and its reception in German Romanticism helped to shape literary and philosophical themes that would lead to further recognition of puppetry as an art form and an integral aspect of German culture.

In the 20th century, puppet theater took on bold new forms. Adapting to film, television, academia and the avant-garde, respected proponents of puppet theater brought the art form into the light of day. No longer did it merely consist of vulgar or mildly artistic street performances or as a vehicle for Romantic-era nostalgia. German puppet theater in the 20th century moved into the realm of mass culture with film and, more effectively, with television. It also gained footing in academia, eventually becoming a fully-recognized field of study as well as a performance medium with infinite possibilities.

One can only hazard a guess as to where puppet theater will go in the future. The ability of the art form to uncannily reflect the human condition is well known. How the human condition will change and how the performers of puppet theater will respond remains to be seen.


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