During the quarter century between 1780 and 1806, Berlin’s courtly and intellectual elites gathered in the homes of a few wealthy, cultivated Jewish women to discuss the events of the day. Princes, nobles, upwardly mobile writers, actors, and beautiful Jewish women flocked to the salons of Rahel Varnhagen, Henriette Herz, and Dorothea von Courland, creating both a new cultural institution and an example of social mixing unprecedented in the German past.
However advantageous and stimulating these salons were for their participants, they proved to be the product of a transitory convergence of social and cultural structures. Underground antisemitic gossip and the new nationalism unleashed by the upheavals in Prussia after 1806 quickly destroyed Jewish salon life in Berlin.
Chair: Susan Neiman, Potsdam