Recalling fascism : a critique of patriarchy in contemporary German women's literature / by Marie-Luise Irmgard Gaettens.
In my dissertation I focus on three novels that appeared in the seventies: Ruth Rehmann's Der Mann auf der Kanzel, Christa Wolf's Kindheitsmuster and Ingeborg Bachmann's Der Fall Franza. I examine ways in which all three works (1) offer a revisionary approach to the history of Fascism, (2) problematize the position of the woman author/historian within patriarchial culture and (3) develop narrative strategies that come to terms with women's exclusion from authoritarian structures in society. The first chapter involves a brief introduction to the issues and methodology of the dissertation. The second chapter is theoretical in nature and examines the position of women within historical discourse; in terms of analytical method, I apply feminist critiques as well as aspects of Critical Theory. I proceed to present theoretical and methodological approaches to women's history as a context for recent women's prose in general. In the third chapter, I analyze Rehmann's novel in which a daughter examines her father's conformist behavior during the Nazi era. Rehmann's detailed treatment of the formation of her father's authoritarian personality is an expression of the necessity to understand the problem of authority which arises for the daughter as she becomes her father's author/historian. Chapter four focuses on Wolf's approach to history in terms of nonsynchronism--a critical term which can be used to retrace the remnants of a female tradition, the definition of which is at odds with the synchronism of traditional history. Wolf's treatment of Fascism comes out of an examination of minute details of everyday life. Chapter five deals with Bachmann, in whose work Fascism represents a radical form of male domination over women to the point of the denial of female subjectivity itself. Aspects of this domination are seen, to be reflected in male academic and scientific discourse. The conclusion shows how each of these authors has addressed a different aspect of female history in terms of a new historical consciousness of women, and the emergence of an autonomous female literary tradition, which has continued into the eighties.
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