The polemic is a literary text form of the controversy . Even if the term is vague and is often used subjectively, the sometimes sharp criticism of dominant positions in politics, economics, science, literature or religion can be identified as characteristic. Even formally not clearly defined, polemics are often written in prose .
The term "pamphlet" is already used for ancient controversial literature, for example for the anti-Christian scripture True Doctrine of Celsus and the counter scripture Contra Celsum by Origen . The modern polemic arose from the scholastic disputations of the medieval universities and was "the standard text form for a controversial contribution in the learned republic" well into the 18th century. In the early modern scholarly republic there were frequent exchanges of pamphlets in which - for example in the form of publicly made letters - scholars exchanged their positions, which obeyed the "formal rules of theological-literary controversy". The pamphlet is still used to this day to publicly resolve controversies.
A polemic is provocative, exaggerated, pointed and can even offend. It is not about factual argumentation, but about committed support for a cause, about criticism and rejection or unmasking a person or organization. The deliberate breaking of taboos is also accepted.
Klaus Lazarowicz distinguishes the polemic from the (positive) criticism and the (negative) humiliation or Pasquill insofar as it shares with the latter "the negatively assessed controversy, with the criticism the positively assessable altruistic intention": In the words of Gustav Bebermeyer's polemics are “more distant, seek objectivity, move away from the person, weigh up arguments”. A related type of text is the more polemical pamphlet .
One of the most famous pamphlets is the Anti-Goeze by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing , who, as a “particularly contentious author”, has been at the center of the growing Germanic interest in the scholarly dispute since the mid-1980s. In the preface to How the ancients formed death , Lessing praised the genre polemic: “Not as if I don't consider our present audience to be a little too disgusting for everything that is called polemic and looks like it. It seems to want to forget that the clarification of so many important points owes it to mere contradictions, and that people would still be in agreement about nothing in the world if they had not quarreled about anything in the world. "
- Gustav Bebermeyer : Schmähschrift (polemic). In: Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturgeschichte. 2nd Edition. Volume 3, De Gruyter, Berlin 1976, pp. 665-678.
- Günther Cwojdrak (Ed.): With an inserted lance. Literary pamphlets from Hutten to Mehring. Leipzig 1968.
- Ludwig Rohner: The literary polemic. Themes, motifs, shapes. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1987 (preview) .
- Thomas cave : Heine's pamphlets and their meaning. In: Bremen contributions to the history of literature and ideas. , Volume 49, 2007, pp. 37-62, here p. 37.
- Walther Dieckmann: Arguing about arguing. Normative foundations of polemical metacommunication (= concepts of linguistics and literary studies. Volume 65). Niemeyer, Tübingen 2005, ISBN 3-484-22065-1 , p 25 .
- Gerd Fritz , Juliane Glüer: The polish and its alternatives around 1700. A historical-pragmatic study of the late phase of the controversy between Johann Friedrich Mayer and August Hermann Francke (1706/1707) ( online ).
- With reference to Martin Gierl see Kai Bremer: Religionsstreitenden. Folk-language controversies between Old Believers and Protestant theologians in the 16th century (= early modern times. Studies and documents on German literature and culture in a European context. Volume 104). Niemeyer, Tübingen 2005, ISBN 3-484-36604-4 , p. 63 f.
- Exemplary for the reinterpretation of the Canossagang Johannes Fried : Canossa. Unmasking a legend. A polemic. Academy, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-05-005683-8 .
- Klaus Lazarowicz : Inverted world. Preliminary studies for a history of German satire. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1963, p. 181.
- Gustav Bebermeyer : Schmähschrift (polemic). In: Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturgeschichte. 2nd Edition. Volume 3, De Gruyter, Berlin 1976, pp. 665-678, here p. 666.
- Kai Bremer: religious disputes. Folk-language controversies between Old Believers and Protestant theologians in the 16th century (= early modern times. Studies and documents on German literature and culture in a European context. Volume 104). Niemeyer, Tübingen 2005, ISBN 3-484-36604-4 , p.61 .
- Gotthold Ephraim Lessing: How the ancients formed death. An investigation. Voss, Berlin 1769, Preface, p 2 .