- The Female Poetics of Crime in E.T.A. Hoffmann's "Mademoiselle Scuderi"
- Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature & Culture
- University of Nebraska Press
- Volume 24, 2008
- pp. 1-25
- View Citation
- Additional Information
This paper explores the role of the female detective in E.T.A. Hoffmann's "Mademoiselle Scuderi" ("Das Fräulein von Scuderi") against the trope of the silent, passive, poetic woman associated with nineteenth-century detective stories. Focusing on Scuderi's character and methodology, my analysis shows how Scuderi successfully competes against her male counterparts by using logic and distinctly female-encoded qualities such as intuition, compassion, and imagination to function as a generative, poetic force. This reading counters the traditional view in Anglo-American studies on Edgar Allen Poe's Dupin as the first prototypical detective. It also challenges interpretations in German Studies by asserting that Hoffmann's text is the first modern detective story because of and not despite its female detective. This rereading of the detective Scuderi is contextualized within Hoffmann's ideas of poetic representation. The analysis also considers how the image of the active female detective and poet offers a larger commentary on the feminine poetic ideal in German Romanticism. (AM)