Seeing through evil : women modernists and their fascist dictators / by Annalisa Zox-Weaver
Includes bibliographical references (p.404-417)
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Electronic version from ProQuest
Chapter one addresses a primary source of Hitler's iconic image, Leni Riefenstahl, who established not only Hitler's cinematic image but also how he was visualized in the popular imagination. I place The Blue Light (1932), the film that inspired Hitler's admiration, in dialogue with one of cinematic history's most controversial enterprises, Triumph of the Will (1935), Riefenstahl's documentary of the Third Reich's program of destruction, sacrifice, and militarization. Riefenstahl calculatingly staged the Party Rally, using her visual expertise to transform it into a spectacular cinematic experience more demonstrative of her mastery over the medium than of National Socialism's ideological mission.Chapter Two considers the degree to which Stein's literary identity draws on those of dictators. I map the contours of a political Stein whose disquieting alliances and cultural conservatism has often been suppressed by critics invested in a narrative about her crusade against authority and patriarchy. Her temporal and political distance from the dictators she depicted was of less concern than the accrual of authority that attached to their very names. Thus the fictional meditation upon the domestic minutiae of Hitler's life, found in her 1946 novel Mrs. Reynolds, designates the very real psychic fixation she had with the Nazi leader specifically and with leadership more generally.Chapter Three examines Janet Flanner's suspension of the dramatic oppositions between private mythology and official history, absolute evil and the profoundly human. I delve into Flanner's writings on Nazism's visual culture and the anatomy of Hitler's quotidian existence in order both to elucidate how her authority over the Third Reich dictator in her columns affected her rise at The New Yorker and the degree to which her writings on such figures came to reshape the journal itself.Chapter Four explores how Lee Miller imports the visual strategies she acquired as a model and fashion photographer into her war correspondence's photo-based appropriation of Nazism's image repertoire. The notorious (and now iconic) photograph of Miller bathing in Hitler's bathtub, flanked by a photograph of Hitler and a kitsch Venus sculpture, becomes the reductio ad absurdum of her project to stage jarring confrontations between depravity and desirability.
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