The national socialist past in women's novels of the 1970's and 1980's / by Rebecca Anne Henschel.
This dissertation explores some of the themes and narrative strategies in the work of contemporary German and Austrian women authors who write about the National Socialist past. The texts which I interpret focus on the role played by women in the “Third Reich” and represent an attempt to remember and reconstruct the Nazi past from a specific female perspective. By showing how women became bystanders, perpetrators or active opponents of the Nazi regime, these authors render traditional notions of women as powerless victims of history problematic. The six texts which I analyze seek to define aspects of contemporary female identity by showing how the past continues to affect the lives of women in the present day. In the first chapter, I provide a brief overview of women's writing about the National Socialist past since the early 1940s and introduce the issues and methodology of the dissertation. In each of the following three chapters, I compare two works in terms of both content and form. Chapter two opens with a discussion of the German term Opfer (victim or sacrifice) and goes on to interpet Erika Mitterer's Alle unsere Spiele and Elisabeth Reichhart's Februarschatten as confessional-like texts which call women's self-view as victims into question. In the third chapter, I examine Grete Weil's Meine Schwester Antigone and Anne Duden's Das Judasschaf as expressions of the difficult nature of mourning the horrors of the past. I also show how the necessarily contradictory nature of a post-Shoah identity is mirrored in the formal structures of each text. Chapter four discusses Helga Schubert's Judasfrauen, Geschichten nach Akten and Marie-Thérèse Kerschbaumer's Der weibliche Name des Widerstands: Sieben Berichte. I trace how each author's portraits of historical figures are shaped by their own personal views and prejudices. In the final chapter, I draw some conclusions about the credibility of the narrative strategies which each author chooses in order to transpose the consciousness of her figures into a narrative text.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
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