Hitler's heroines? : stardom, womanhood, and the popular in Nazi cinema / by Antje Ingrid Ascheid.
This work investigates Nazi film culture vis-à-vis its problematic representations of womanhood and contributes to a feminist understanding and history of the national socialist state. Nazi culture is understood as bound up in many cultural continuities, economic dependencies and ideological frictions, which led it to frequently reproduce its own contradictions giving voice to the very tensions that underlay the repressive axioms of NS ideologues. Conceptually, Nazism embraced neither the femmes fatales nor the femmes fragiles of the fin-de-siècle, nor did it approve of the “new woman” of modernity. Foregrounded instead were the absolute of the “German mother” and the image of the de-eroticized “female fighter and comrade.” Nazi films, however, typically featured actresses whose star images and screen characters struggled to incorporate Nazi doctrine, reaching back instead to discourses operative in international cinema and Weimar traditions. Moreover, the figure of woman invariably pointed to frictions inherent in the problematic position females assumed in fascist patriarchy. Female star signs consistently indicated irreconcilable difficulties, at the same time as they were being used to entertain the public in an ideologically conformist way. The paradigm of the female film star most clearly articulated womanhood as one of the central areas of contestation within German fascism. The relationship between women and Nazi popular culture, in particular the way in which female stars addressed women in films and the concomitant star discourse, further suggests NS divas as signposts that informed female identity as much as they indicated women's fantasies and identificatory desires. At the center of this study stands the investigation of three exemplary case studies (Kristina Söderbaum, Zarah Leander, Lilian Harvey), which suggest a history of female subjectivity in the Third Reich that conceives of gender as a source of dissonance within the Nazis' political framework by indicating that while both Nazi cinema and its stars clearly showed traces of the regime's ideological propaganda work—thereby speaking to the Nazis' persistent need to address and contain the “woman question”—many Nazi “heroines” modern negotiations of contemporary gender conflicts simultaneously articulated German women's continuing interest in supposedly outmoded antagonisms.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
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