This essay redirects attention to questions of reception in German-speaking contexts, instead of a limited stress on what is “produced” there. This not only affords us, German studies scholars at North American universities, an opportunity to take into account our own reception of imported European goods within our specific institutional and local cultural contexts. It also confirms what we so often claim in our teaching statements, namely, that our students play a key role in the meaning of these objects, not as mere “receivers” but as fellow interlocuters, since the questions asked about these objects structure them in the first place. The messiness of these transcultural European trade routes needs to be taken seriously so that the noise, mixed messages, and missed signals might become part of our objects of interpretation, instead of being relegated to the footnotes of standard histories.

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