City Girls. Bubiköpfe & Blaustrümpfe in den 1920er Jahren by Herausgegeben von Julia Freytag, Alexandra Tacke (review)
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City Girls. Bubiköpfe & Blaustrümpfe in den 1920er Jahren.
Herausgegeben von Julia Freytag und Alexandra Tacke. Köln: Böhlau, 2011. 227Seiten + zahlreiche s/w Abbildungen. €29,90.

Julia Freytag and Alexandra Tacke’s anthology City Girls. Bubiköpfe & Blaustrümpfe in den 1920er Jahren pulses with the energy of a new feminine urbanity and a new urban feminism within the context of Weimar Germany and reflects the standing of its study in Germany to date. Published as the twenty-ninth contribution to the series Literatur—Kultur—Geschlecht by Böhlau Verlag, both the collection and the series have a close affinity to the development of Gender Studies at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. The series editors Anne-Katrin Reulecke and Ulrike Vedder work in conjunction with the founders of Gender Studies at the Berlin university, Inge Stephan and Sigrid Weigel. Furthermore, the edition is an apt Festschrift in honor of Inge Stephan and Christina von Braun and is an outgrowth of the 2009 Berlin symposium of a similar name: City Girls. Dämonen, Vamps & Bubiköpfe in den 20er Jahren and the Graduiertenkolleg Geschlecht als Wissenskategorie. The emblematic cover image for the book, Jeanna Mammen’s Revuegirls (circa 1929/1930), mirrors the imagery of the HU-Berlin’s logo of Wilhelm and Alexander Humboldt and sets the tone for an anthology rich in its creation of a Zeitbild and representative in its inclusion of an intergenerational and international cohort of scholars emerging under the leadership of Inge Stephan and Christina von Braun. [End Page 719]

The twelve essays that comprise City Girls create an amended and varied introduction to a subgenre of Weimar culture that cuts across medial boundaries and incorporates a spectrum of cultural artifacts ranging from the perceived popular to the so-called avant-garde: die Neue Frau. Consequently, the editors have sought a thematic approach to organization. The resulting schema attempts to negotiate both thematic and medial concerns: the five essays in the most extensive section, “Die Neuen Schreibkräfte,” comprise one category of the collection that is primarily literary and concerned above all with women as writers and their performance as secretaries, typists, and, to a lesser degree, authors. The three essays in “Frauen vor & hinter der Kamera” highlight women’s presence within the interconnected frameworks of the film industry and burgeoning journalistic and theoretical interests in film. Finally, the four essays in “Girls in Action” uncover a new area of investigation in female corporeality by investigating women’s participation in sport and other areas of physical performance.

The typewriter and the technological influences on authorship dominate “Die Neuen Schreibkräfte.” In their introduction, Freytag and Tacke attribute this new thematic to an essential shift in the book market during the Weimar years. A closer look certainly reveals that women as readers and writers had been altering the book market before the First World War, indeed, since the mid-nineteenth century. The contributions here revisit well-known writers such as Vicki Baum, Irmgard Keun, and Else Lasker-Schüler, while others explore lesser-known examples. Three essays investigate novels about young women employed outside the home: contrasting portrayals of secretaries in the works of Irmgard Keun and Alice Berend (Ariane Martin), aesthetics of self and authorship in the workplace (Annegret Pelz), the nonentity of the woman in Mela Hartwig’s novel Das Weib ist ein Nichts (Ulrike Stamm). Two additional essays explore plays with identity: Else Lasker-Schüler’s gender and geographic play (Lydia Strauß) and the ways provincial female protagonists deviate from the new normative urbanity in Marieluise Fleißer’s novels and journalistic writing (Julia Freytag). With their concern for the technological writing as writing of self, this section is beholden to Friedrich Kittler’s media theory, as outlined in Grammophon Film Typewriter (1986). At least two essays make reference to the strong link between writing and film in the Weimar era: Pelz’s with her reference to Clara Bow and Kracauer’s Mass Ornament and Freytag’s with her analysis of Fleißer’s androgyny in relation to Buster Keaton.

“Frauen vor & hinter der Kamera” is necessarily international in scope. The three essays cross...


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