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The admission of women to higher education in Germany caused considerable debate from 1865 to 1910 and beyond. By examining fictional representations of women students before their admission to university study became official policy, this essay shows the Studentin as a contested cultural symbol. She epitomizes both women's emancipatory strivings and male anxieties about social change and modernity. Imagining women as intellectual equivalents to men generated responses ranging from male authors' satires or dark visions of modernity to female authors' sentimental or radical plotlines.