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Title: Gendered uniforms : an East/West comparison of the German military in literature and film of the 1950s
Author: Budd , Helen
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 5075
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis examines cultural representations of German soldiers during the Second World War in East and West German film and literature from the 1950s. My focus is the role of gender in shaping perceptions and memories of the military and war in the early GDR and FRG, against the context of shifts in gender roles and relations in the aftermath of war, and establishment of two ideologically opposed yet closely intertwined post-war orders. I demonstrate that the texts’ renegotiations of German masculinities both reflect and challenge wider official and hegemonic discourses concerned with the reintegration of male citizens into the post-war states, while foregrounding memories of male experiences of war. The use of gender as a structural category reveals a range of other wartime experiences within these texts that remain unconsidered within existing scholarship. Reading against the grain of existing research this thesis uncovers a multitude of female protagonists alongside soldier figures, predominantly overlooked within both contemporary reception and subsequent scholarship. These female figures play a constitutive role in shaping perspectives on war, performing crucial functions ranging from acting as the signifier for male strength or aggression, to introducing other wartime experiences into the narrative. The thesis does not separate the two German states, but instead reads twenty texts from the FRG and GDR alongside each other in a thematic analysis. I examine representations of five key military experiences; those of child soldiers, instances of military opposition, the Eastern Front, German retreat and post-war experiences. My texts point to the multifaceted and distinct ongoing confrontations with the war in the FRG and GDR, which provided an important cornerstone in the formation of East and West German identities. These texts stand as important reassessments of the Nazi past and underline the centrality of gender for contemporary understandings of wartime experiences.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available