An essential critical history of German studies as an academic discipline. German studies has confronted many crises, as well as severe criticism and self-criticism, and yet it has managed to maintain its disciplinary system through every upheaval--the revolution of 1848, the establishment of the Second Reich in 1871, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi Third Reich, the Second World War and the reconstruction era, the creation and reunification of the two German states. Pier Carlo Bontempelli focuses on this continuity, dating back to the early nineteenth century, when the "founding fathers" of Germanistik secured its status by grounding it in a set of fixed principles, revived by each successive generation of scholars in order to legitimize their position of power--and to ensure their capacity for cultural reproduction. Using the works of Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu, Bontempelli investigates the institution and principles of German studies and critically reconstructs its history. Mindful of the mechanisms of choice and domination operating at every turn in this history, his book exposes the repressed social and political history of German studies.