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German Women's Writing in the Twenty-First Century

German Women's Writing in the Twenty-First Century

Hester Baer
Alexandra Merley Hill
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    German Women's Writing in the Twenty-First Century
    Book Description:

    What is the status of women's writing in German today, in an era when feminism has thoroughly problematized binary conceptions of sex and gender? Drawing on gender and queer theory, including the work of Lauren Berlant, Judith Butler, and Michel Foucault, the essays in this volume rethink conventional ways of conceptualizing female authorship and re-examine the formal, aesthetic, and thematic terms in which "women's literature" has been conceived. With an eye to the literary and feminist legacy of authors such as Christa Wolf and Ingeborg Bachmann, contributors treat the works of many of contemporary Germany's most significant literary voices, including Hatice Akyün, Sibylle Berg, Thea Dorn, Tanja Dückers, Karen Duve, Jenny Erpenbeck, Julia Franck, Katharina Hacker, Charlotte Roche, Julia Schoch, and Antje Rávic Strubel -- authors who, through their writing or their role in the media, engage with questions of what it means to be a woman writer in twenty-first-century Germany. Contributors: Hester Baer, Necia Chronister, Helga Druxes, Valerie Heffernan, Alexandra Merley Hill, Lindsey Lawton, Sheridan Marshall, Beret Norman, Mihaela Petrescu, Jill Suzanne Smith, Carrie Smith-Prei, Maria Stehle, Katherine Stone Hester Baer is Associate Professor of Germanic Studies at the University of Maryland. Alexandra Merley Hill is Assistant Professor of German at the University of Portland.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-486-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    H. B and A. M. H.
  4. Introduction: German Women’s Writing Beyond the Gender Binary
    (pp. 1-17)
    Hester Baer and Alexandra Merley Hill

    This book investigates the way women’s writing and feminist literary criticism constitute key sites for imagining, critiquing, and troubling gender in the twenty-first century. We aim to instigate an invigorating discussion of German women’s writing by emphasizing the intersectional qualities of both women’s literature and feminist analysis today. Making the case for renewed attention to women’s writing appears particularly crucial at the present moment, defined by neoliberal capitalism and proclamations of postfeminism, when the study of literature in general, and women’s literature in particular, is waning. Yet as the contributions to this volume show, contemporary women’s writing engages in important...

  5. 1: Language-Bodies: Interpellation and Gender Transition in Antje Rávic Strubel’s Kältere Schichten der Luft and Judith Hermann’s “Sonja”
    (pp. 18-36)
    Necia Chronister

    Unlike any other medium, literature has the ability to employ the reader’s imagination in the construction of bodies. When a narrator communicates information about a text’s characters, the reader completes the act of constructing bodies by imagining their contours, postures, and gestures. A character’s gender is thus dependent upon both the narrator’s speech—his/her use of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives—and the reader’s expectations regarding gender. If the narrator omits information about the character’s gender, the reader finds clues in the text—social cues, behaviors, and actions—to fill in that information and assign one. Such moments activate literature’s potential...

  6. 2: Matrilineal Narrative and the Feminist Family Romance
    (pp. 37-53)
    Valerie Heffernan

    Recent years have seen the publication in Germany of a vast number and array of multigenerational family narratives that look back to the turbulent history of the twentieth century. They look in particular to the family stories that are passed on from one generation to the next as a way of understanding and representing the past, and they also explore those that are kept secret or hidden from view and yet contribute to shaping the present. These narratives use the family as a prism through which to explore the residual impact of the historical events of the twentieth century, and...

  7. 3: The Pitfalls of Constructing a Female Genealogy: Cultural Memory of National Socialism in Recent Family Narratives
    (pp. 54-73)
    Katherine Stone

    Writing women’s lives has always been central to the feminist project. In the 1970s confessional and autobiographical writing by women contributed to and popularized a feminist politics of self-discovery, autonomy, and solidarity.¹ Questioning the relationship between language and the subject, the body and culture, female authors asserted the social and historical import of their experiences. Notably, women’s writing provided insight into women’s experiences of war and the Third Reich at a stage when feminist history of the period was still in its infancy.² And now, in the twenty-first century, women writers are continuing to revisit the National Socialist past and...

  8. 4: Reckoning with God: Attitudes toward Religion in German-Language Women’s Writing in the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 74-94)
    Sheridan Marshall

    In this article I examine the place of religious beliefs, and the interrelation between religion and gender, in a selection of twenty-first-century German-language prose fiction written by women. In line with the widespread recognition of a “ religious turn”¹ or “(re)sacralization”² that is transforming political and cultural discourse in the “post-secular society”³ in which we live, the role of religion in contemporary German-language literature is subject to increasing scrutiny. In German literary studies the depiction of Islam in Germanic culture and the history of German-Jewish identity currently receive much more explicit attention than the place of Christian faith.⁴ Julian Preece...

  9. 5: Muslim Writing, Women’s Writing
    (pp. 95-112)
    Lindsay Lawton

    Women’s memoirs that share common themes of forced marriage, honor killing, or “crimes of honor” and detail the cruelty and violence to which the protagonist is subjected during her quest to pursue a “Western” lifestyle have been a part of the German-language literary landscape for decades. As they are increasingly tied to Islam, however, these memoirs have become especially visible in the twenty-first century.¹ The similarity of these works is reinforced by marketing conventions, including sensational titles likeIch wollte nur frei sein: Meine Flucht vor der Zwangsehe(I Only Wanted to be Free: My Flight from Forced Marriage, 2005),...

  10. 6: Popfeminism, Ethnicity, and Race in Contemporary Germany: Hatice Akyün’s Popfeminist Autobiographic Works Einmal Hans mit scharfer Soße (2005) and Ali zum Dessert (2008)
    (pp. 113-131)
    Mihaela Petrescu

    In recent years several scholars have investigated the role of popfeminism, a term coined in 2007 by Sonja Eismann, which denotes Germany’s own version of contemporary feminism.¹ While these scholars have scrutinized the relationship between popfeminism, pop literature, and neoliberalism, and they have pointed out the absence of concepts of race and ethnicity in numerous popfeminist texts, they have paid little attention to those popfeminist works that do analyze the intersections between sexuality, race, and ethnicity.² In this essay I address this gap by investigating the humor-inflected popfeminist autobiographical worksEinmal Hans mit scharfer Soße(An Order of Hans with...

  11. 7: The Awkward Politics of Popfeminist Literary Events: Helene Hegemann, Charlotte Roche, and Lady Bitch Ray
    (pp. 132-153)
    Carrie Smith-Prei and Maria Stehle

    Since the mid-2000s there has been a marked uptick across the Western world of discussions surrounding the validity and effectiveness of feminism today.¹ Terms such as “postfeminism” or “lifestyle feminism” are increasingly used to characterize a popular interest in making feminism palatable through depoliticization, even as political actions are publicly evaluated as successes or failures on the basis of criteria more appropriate for their second-wave forebears. These discussions either brand feminist cultural production as successful activism against a sexist, mainstream, and consumerist culture, or condemn it as mere media sensation that points to the failure or ineffectuality of feminism today....

  12. 8: The Indictment of Neoliberalism and Communism in the Novels of Katharina Hacker, Nikola Richter, Judith Schalansky, and Julia Schoch
    (pp. 154-174)
    Helga Druxes

    Leftist cultural critic Jeffrey Nealon argues that “we’ve experienced an intensification of postmodern capitalism over the past decades, an increasing saturation of the economic sphere into formerly independent segments of everyday cultural life.”¹ The new global economy elevates competitiveness to its guiding principle, mandating a national quest to maintain “Konkurrenzfähigkeit des Standorts Deutschland” (competitiveness of Germany as a business hub).² At the same time, since the rise of neoliberalism in the 1990s, intensified technologies of the self, widely promoted by popular culture and the advertising industry, insinuate that individuals should take a functionalist approach toward themselves as sites of experience,...

  13. 9: Sounds of Silence: Rape and Representation in Juli Zeh’s Bosnian Travelogue
    (pp. 175-196)
    Jill Suzanne Smith

    On a sweltering summer day in 2001, the writer Juli Zeh stood on the banks of the river Drina in Bosnia-Herzegovina, not far from the town of Srebrenica, where, in the summer of 1995, Serbian forces killed 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in plain view of United Nations peacekeeping forces. The Drina does not flow through Srebrenica, but it does flow through Višegrad, one of the first sites of the brutal expulsion of Muslims from northeastern Bosnia. As Zeh struggled to clear her mind of images of bloody corpses floating in the Drina near Višegrad, she turned her thoughts to another German-language...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 197-202)
  15. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 203-204)
  16. Index
    (pp. 205-208)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 209-209)