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Title: The political woman in German women's writing 1845-1919
Author: Mikus, Birgit
ISNI:       0000 0004 2035 8931
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis analyses the depiction and its function of politically active women in novels by six female authors from the margins of the democratic revolution of 1848 and the first German women’s movement. The thesis asks (i) what their political stance was in relation to democratic developments and women’s rights, (ii) how they rendered their political convictions into literary form, (iii) which literary images they used, criticised, or invented in order to depict politically active women in their novels in a positive light, and (iv) which narrative strategies they employed to ‘smuggle’ politically and socially radical ideas into what were sometimes only ostensibly conventional plots. The thesis combines intertextual analysis with poetic analyses of individual texts in order to highlight deviant elements in narrative strategy, imagery, or text-internal appraisals by the narrator or author. In order to contextualise the chosen texts as well as my analyses, it draws on the historical environment (social and legal developments, revolutions, technological progress) for the definition of what can be considered radical and political in the period 1845-1919. Additionally, the thesis is firmly grounded in feminist theory, which provides the instruments for highlighting the concepts and circumstances in which the six authors’ works are situated. The essays and novels analysed were written before feminist theory was established; however, their proto-feminist observations, demands, and discursive tactics contributed much to the formation and institutionalisation of feminist thought and, ultimately, theory. In their efforts to construct a positive role model for the political woman, the six authors chosen are united in their notion that such a role model should evolve from bourgeois values of family and work ethics, but the examples manifested in their novels show a great variety of degrees of radicalism.
Supervisor: Watanabe-O'Kelly, Helen Sponsor: Medieval and Modern Languages Faculty, University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Languages (Medieval and Modern) and non-English literature ; Germanic languages ; German ; Literature (non-English) ; Literatures of Germanic languages ; 19th century literature ; women's literature ; political literature ; feminism ; Louise Aston ; Malwida von Meysenbug ; Mathilde Franziska Anneke ; Louise Otto-Peters ; Fanny Lewald ; Hedwig Dohm