Of Miracles and Pedestals: Helen Keller in German Culture
This essay compares the cultural and historical factors that shape Helen Keller's life and legacy in the United States and Germany. Although Keller read and wrote in German, was well-versed in German literature, and even regarded Germany as her "spiritual home," she did not make substantive inroads into German culture. Instead, she garnered grandiloquent, yet ultimately superficial recognition. Scholars in the United States, on the other hand, are increasingly appreciative of her contributions to movements promoting rights for people with disabilities, women's rights, and progressive politics. Among people in the U.S., superficial adulation has slowly begun to give way to more rigorous scholarship, allowing Helen Keller to be regarded as a thinker worthy of serious consideration. What aspects of American culture, then, allow for her multifaceted resonance at home, and what in German culture keeps her high on a pedestal, largely out of reach of the very people she admired and wanted to know? Considering Helen Keller's status as an international icon of inspiration, this study sheds light on the cultural and historical parameters that define both humans and heroes.
Hamilton, Elizabeth C. Winter 2006. "Of Miracles and Pedestals: Helen Keller in German Culture." Disability Studies Quarterly 26(1): 4.
Ohio State University Libraries
Disability Studies Quarterly
German culture, German naturalism, Keller, Helen, 1880-1968, Braille, Blind, Deaf, German literature