The Emancipation of Writing is the first study of writing in its connection to bureaucracy, citizenship, and the state in Germany. Stitching together micro- and macro-level analysis, it reconstructs the vibrant, textually saturated civic culture of the German southwest in the aftermath of the French Revolution and Napoleon's invasions. Ian F. McNeely reveals that Germany's notoriously oppressive bureaucracy, when viewed through the writing practices that were its lifeblood, could also function as a site of citizenship. Citizens, acting under the mediation of powerful local scribes, practiced their freedoms in written engagements with the state. Their communications laid the basis for civil society, showing how social networks commonly associated with the free market, the free press, and the voluntary association could also take root in powerful state institutions.