New Theatre Quarterly

Research Article

Joseph Goebbels: Expressionist Dramatist as Nazi Minister of Culture

David Barnett


The young Joseph Goebbels, caught up in the heady mix of ideas and ideals permeating German artistic circles during and after the First World War, expressed both his convictions and his confusions through writing plays. None of these deserve much attention as serious drama: but all shed light on the ideological development of the future Nazi Minister of Culture. While also developing an argument on the wider relationship between Expressionism and modernism, David Barnett here traces that relationship in Goebbels' plays, as also the evolution of an ideology that remained equivocal in its aesthetics – the necessary condemnation of ‘degenerate’ art tinged with a lingering admiration, epitomized in the infamous exhibition of 1937. David Barnett has been Lecturer in Theatre Studies at the University of Huddersfield since 1998, and was previously Lecturer in German Language and Literature at Keble College, Oxford. His Literature versus Theatre: Textual Problems and Theatrical Realization in the Later Plays of Heiner Müller was published by Peter Lang in 1998, and other publications include articles on Heiner Müller, Franz Xaver Kroetz, Rolf Hochhuth, Heinar Kipphardt, Werner Schwab, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Peter Handke.