German Women’s Writing 1845–1919
INTRODUCTION: The politics of women’s writing
The political woman, as a literary image and as a person, should, strictly speaking, not exist in nineteenth-century Germany. Women were by definition excluded from politics, and, once married, not even recognised as independent persons before the law, all this justified by the emerging ideals of ‘natural’ gender roles and attributes.1 The first German Women’s Movement existed in its organised and institutionalised form only from 1865, the year Louise Otto-Peters, Minna Cauer, and several other politically minded women founded the Allgemeiner Deutscher Frauenverein (ADF) [General German Women’s Association] in Leipzig.2 However, even this association focused primarily on campaigns for the reform of marriage law, equal access to education, and equality in the workforce, and explicitly not on women’s suffrage, in complete contrast to the British, French, and American Women’s Movements of the same period.3 Nevertheless, since the Vormärz period at the latest, German women writers concerned themselves with politics and women’s exclusion from it and various other fields of public life, in various ways and genres. The democratic revolution of 1848 provided a unique opportunity to reach a large readership with political ← 1 | 2 → interests, and a number of female authors published explicitly political pamphlets, novels, and poetry with the goal of securing women’s participation in the construction of the new democratic state. These authors faced one particular problem when turning from essay or pamphlet to literature: they had no literary image of a political woman at their disposal, except for the unpopular, mocking image of...
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.