Rooted in Enlightenment rationalism, modernity tends to privilege masculine-conted characteristics -- conscious subjective agency, rational control and self-containment, the subjugation of nature -- and has generated a conceptualization of human subjectivity emphasizing these qualities. Yet the costs of this conception of human selfhood are high, and at modernity's most acute moments of historical crisis writers and artists can be seen turning to feminine-conted figurations -- nature, tradition, myth and spirituality, intuition, relationality, flux. In recent decades studies have examined the cultural crisis of German modernity, tably at the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century, as a crisis of masculinity. Feminist critiques, meanwhile, have viewed cultural history as male-generated and phallocentric, in need of a feminine corrective. The invation of this book is to examine these two gendered perspectives side by side, investigating the culturally symbolic significance of gender in post 1945 German language literature via a sequence of paired readings of major, thematically related texts by male and female authors, including Ingeborg Bachmann's vel Malina/ (1971) and Max Frisch's Mein Name sei Gantenbein (1964); Frisch's Homo Faber (1957) and Christa Wolf's Storfall (1987); Elfriede Jelinek's Die Klavierspielerin and Rainald Goetz's Irre (both 1983); and Heiner Muller's Die Hamletmaschine (1977) and Christa Wolf's Kassandra (1983). Finally, Barbara Kohler's eight-poem cycle Elektra. Spiegelungen (written 1984-85; published 1991) is considered as offering a way past the impasse of the male and female viewpoints. Georgina Paul is University Lecturer in German at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St. Hilda's College.
Boydell & Brewer Ltd
Date of Publication
Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture