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Title: '[B]ei dreißig Soldaten dreißigmal etwas anderes' : East German masculinities and negotiations of military ideals in film and literature
Author: Smith, Thomas Allan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7659 9574
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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Masculinities in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) remain neglected in scholarship, which often limits its discussion to the state's gender ideals. Official East German masculine ideals were particularly rigidly enforced in the military: the so-called 'sozialistische Soldatenpersönlichkeit' was imposed on young men through military training after conscription was introduced in 1962. Yet literature and film depicting the 'Nationale Volksarmee' (NVA) display a wider range of differentiated masculinities than existing research suggests. Writers and filmmakers focus on experiences and masculinities that were not easily compatible with the normative 'sozialistische Soldatenpersönlichkeit'. Their works represent marginalised or suppressed aspects of masculinity, positioning themselves as part of ongoing negotiations of military gender ideals and even challenging these ideals to varying extents. By analysing these neglected texts, this thesis demonstrates the breadth and complexity of representations of East German masculinity and explores the role of gender in the state's repressive institutions. My first chapter explores the violence associated with the 'sozialistische Soldatenpersönlichkeit' in three films, 'Julia lebt' (1963), 'Drei Stern rot' (2001) and 'An die Grenze' (2007). Subsequent chapters focus on aspects of masculinity that exist in tension with the NVA's ideals. Chapter two argues that, in 'Der Reserveheld' (1965), 'Ein Katzensprung' (1977) and 'Fassonschnitt' (1984), the uniform used to normalise military bodies also emphasises bodily deviations from the ideal. Chapter three discusses 'Zum Teufel mit Harbolla' (1989) and 'NVA' (2005), two retro films which accentuate the theatricality of military masculinities, but fail to subvert the military's use of performativity to change soldiers' identities. The final two chapters analyse post-reunification literature which explores ways of representing emotions and desires suppressed during military service. In chapter four, I investigate shame in 'Tausend Tage' (1997), 'Einstrich-Keinstrich' (2006) and 'Der Turm' (2008). Chapter five compares approaches to same-sex desire in 'Neue Leben' (2005) and 'Hinterm Horizont allein' (2005).
Supervisor: Bird, S. ; Davies, M. P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available