This book examines the possibilities of political theorizing in the writings of early nineteenth-century German women and develops a new theory of reading women’s domestic fiction. Drawing on feminism, new historicism, and hermeneutics for its theoretical framework, the study suggests significant changes to Jürgen Habermas’s concept of the public sphere and women’s role within it. The book re-evaluates the genre of domestic fiction and traces its use by women writers for political symbolism. Through novels, educational treatises, conduct manuals, poetry, and history books for women and children Caroline Fouqué, the principal voice in this study, and other authors of the period participated in the key debates of the early nineteenth century, among them the anguished discussions about the crisis in masculinity after the defeat of the Prussian army in 1806, the discourses of national identity, the construction of a national past, and the reorganization of the feudal state.
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2009. 276 pp.
Contents: Finding a Public Voice – Theorizing Women as Political Voices – Theorizing the Public Sphere: Gender, Sociability,
and Politics – Voices from the Past: Gender and the Historical Novel – Voicing a Theory of the State.