Gender ideologies in the theater of the Weimar Republic and their relation to fascism / by Susan Russell
Includes bibliographical references (p. -342)
This work serves as a crucible, wherein materialist feminist theory, critical theory and its analysis of fascism, and psychoanalytic theory meet in tracing how and to what ends notions of "masculinity" and "femininity" are operative in particular German dramatic texts. I have chosen this period in history as a particularly fruitful one for such a project because the Weimar Republic was a watershed in which issues of gender and politics were consciously and fiercely linked in public discourse. This dissertation is divided into two main sections: the introduction and the first chapter introduce the concepts operative in the critical gestures of the next three chapters and conclusion. My analysis in Chapter One of gender ideologies within Oskar Kokoschka's play MURDERER WOMEN'S HOPE presents background material on attitudes about gender in turn-of-the-century Germany. By examining responses to the play by present-day critics who utilize a monologic approach in their analysis, I hope to illustrate the value of a dialogic approach which traces the presence of counter-discourses and attends to the idea that no dominant ideology is monolithic or devoid of contradictions. In the remaining three chapters and the conclusion, I employ a critique of gender ideologies through an examination of the historical contexts of the plays' performances. Chapter Two examines two plays, THE ENDLESS ROAD and FRAU EMMA FIGHTS BEHIND THE LINES, which involve the experience of the First World War and the construction of "proper" masculine and feminine roles vis-a-vis that experience. Chapter Three examines the German women's movement which developed into two discrete branches, bourgeois and socialist feminist, and analyzes the gender ideologies within two plays, THE LIBERATION and BESSIE BOSCH, which developed from the workers' movement, and which offer an alternative to patriarchal conceptions of femininity. Following the lead of theorists such as Freud, Adorno, Bataille, and Alice Yaeger Kaplan, I analyze, in Chapter Four, the intersections between fascism and sexism in the gender ideologies in three plays--ITALIAN NIGHT, SCHLAGETER and THE RACES--through utilizing psychoanalytic theories of subject-formation and identification, combined with feminist film theorists' analysis of the ideal spectator and the male gaze.
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