Show Less

Enlightened Reactions

Emancipation, Gender, and Race in German Women’s Writing


Traci S. O'Brien

This book investigates a central contradiction in the Enlightenment thinking of emancipatory German women’s writing of the nineteenth century. Ida von Hahn-Hahn, Fanny Lewald, and Ottilie Assing wrote passionate arguments in favor of the emancipation of women, Jews, and blacks, promoting Enlightenment ideals of human worth and social contribution. They protested these groups’ exclusion from social participation on the basis of purportedly natural criteria such as gender or race. However, their rhetoric of emancipation also relied on racializing discourse, demonstrating that these women writers, too, frequently supported social equality at the expense of another excluded group. The author develops her argument by analyzing Hahn-Hahn’s fiction and travel writings set in the Middle East, Lewald’s novels and letters about women and Jews in Germany, and Assing’s «Reports from America» in favor of the abolition of African slavery in the United States. This wide-ranging comparative study offers a unique insight into German women’s contribution to emancipatory struggles around the world.


Show Summary Details
Restricted access



Acknowledgements ix Introduction 1 Chapter 1 Foundations of Inclusion and Exclusion 11 Chapter 2 A “Daughter of the Occident” Travels to the Orient: Ida von Hahn-Hahn’s Gräfin Faustine and Orientalische Briefe 89 Chapter 3 Women’s Rights and Femininity’s Others: Fanny Lewald’s Fiction and Political Letters 157 Chapter 4 Citizenship under Construction: Progress, Civilization, and Racial Hierarchies in Ottilie Assing’s “Reports from America” 235 Conclusion 299 Bibliography 309 Index 337

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.