Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Women; Socialism; Feminism; Bildungsroman; German Socialist Literature

Major Advisor

Anke Finger

Associate Advisor

Katharina von Hammerstein

Associate Advisor

Friedemann Weidauer

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


At the center of my dissertation project are authors Lily Braun (1865-1916), Hermynia Zur Mühlen (1883-1953) and Brigitte Reimann (1933-1973). My exploration of German novels by these female socialists demonstrates a tradition of narrating socialist role models for women through the Bildungsroman, and I elucidate a shared feminist consciousness amongst the writers as their literature serves as a form of socialist activism. While women’s writings in the German Democratic Republic (GDR; East Germany) have received considerable scholarly attention, writings by female socialists of earlier periods remain under-investigated, leading to a narrow view of women and socialism in Germany. Therefore, I examine works from the early 20th century to inform my approach to GDR literature. I analyze representations of women’s political agency in novels by Braun, Zur Mühlen and Reimann, arguing that East German authors built upon established traditions of women’s socialist literature in German. I illustrate how they utilize similar narrative strategies to encourage women’s autonomy, solidarity and political engagement, and identify ways in which each writer brings a feminist consciousness to socialist ideologies. By tracing a trajectory of women’s socialist writing over the course of the 20th century, I broaden discussions of women and socialism in the German-speaking context beyond the GDR and demonstrate how socialist and feminist movements continuously inform each other.

Available for download on Thursday, April 17, 2025