Date of Completion
Women; Socialism; Feminism; Bildungsroman; German Socialist Literature
Katharina von Hammerstein
Field of Study
Doctor of Philosophy
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.
Shoults, Julie, "Narrating a Tradition: Socialist Women with a Feminist Consciousness in the German Bildungsroman" (2015). Doctoral Dissertations. 703.
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