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Free Soul, Free Woman?

A Study of Selected Fictional Works by Hedwig Dohm, Isolde Kurz, and Helene Böhlau

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Sandra L. Singer

In their lifetime, Hedwig Dohm (1831-1919) and Helene Böhlau (1856-1940) earned the praise of women's rights activists such as Minna Cauer and Helene Stöcker for their contributions to modern women's literature. Dohm engaged in debates on the women's movement with Lou Andreas-Salomé, Ellen Key, and Laura Marholm. Böhlau shocked the reading public with her novel Halbtier¿, in which a woman triumphs after killing an abusive man. On the other hand, Isolde Kurz (1853-1944), who distanced herself from the women's movement, seems the odd woman out. Yet boundaries among these writers are more fluid than expected, especially in their portrayals of sexuality and spirituality.
The Author: Sandra L. Singer is an assistant professor of German at Alfred University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, specializing in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German Literature. Dr. Singer resided for several years in Upper Bavaria and Frankfurt am Main.