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Title: Little Miss Typist : the representation of white-collar women in Weimar Germany
Author: Macfarlane, Mary
ISNI:       0000 0004 2672 6256
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis takes the figure of the typist as the starting point for an exploration of the intersections of gender, modernity, technology and class in the Weimar Republic, drawing together the unique German discourse of Angestelltenliteratur, which developed out of a classbased sociology analysis, and feminist examinations of the New Woman. I argue that, although ultimately conservative, popular culture may offer lower-middle class women more opportunities for liberation and resistance than explicitly socially-critical discourses produced by elite men. In Chapter One I summarise the sociological understanding of the white-collar workers, and show that gender begins to operate as the discourse moves into mainstream media. I argue that Kracauer uses white-collar female characters in his socially-critical journalism to represent the white-collar class as feminised and passive, in contrast to an authentically masculine and virile working-class. In Chapters Two and Three, I explore the representation of the typist in three popular romance novels and six films (early romantic comedies). I trace the origins of the secretary/boss romance, which draws the apparently liberated working woman back into the framework of bourgeois marriage. In the films, I find that the dramatic conventions of disguise and mistaken identity are used to equate a secretary’s role with a wife’s, and therefore part of women’s ‘natural’ function. Despite this conservatism, I show both films and novels are fascinated with the New Woman’s freedoms. In Chapter Four, I read four novels which explicitly reject the ‘marriage’ ending, and show how they draw on the conventions established in the earlier works. I end with Irmgard Keun’s Weimar novels, arguing that they achieve the critical relationship to modernity and mass culture that Kracauer was striving for, without patronising or condescending to the white-collar women they represent.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available