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PREFACE One of the joys of being editor is that you get to be first to read the book. We think Women in German Yearbook d is a good read. Having chosen the articles for this volume simply because they were the best rather than according to a prearranged topic, we were delighted with the many unanticipated points of convergence that we discovered while debating different versions of our table of contents. There is stunning variety in the pieces collected here, which span German literary history from the middle ages to the present and treat canonical as well as noncanonical literature, popular as well as "high" culture, male as well as female authors—and a correspondingly diverse array of generic forms. A wide range of feminist critical approaches is evident as well. We have chosen to highlight some of the ways in which these articles resonate accordantly or discordantly with each other and thus reflect ongoing dialogue as well as incipient debates among feminist Germanists. The first three contributions, each employing a different approach to feminist analysis, are connected by a concern for how and why women's bodies and aspects of female sexuality have been thematized in works of canonical literature. In a feminist reading of Kleist's Erdbeben in Chili, Marjorie Gelus aims to recover what has been suppressed—the representation of the female body in one of its most mundane functions, birth—both in the story itself and in interpretations that are grounded in theory favoring abstraction. Vanessa Van Ornam investigates Renaissance theories of female infertility in order to shed light on Grimmelshausen's choice of a sexually active and orgasmic but barren heroine in Coltrasene; she argues that the work conveys an anti-war message that has heretofore been overlooked. M.R. Sperberg-McQueen, using Elaine Showalter's concept of women's literature as double-voiced discourse and drawing on insights from recent research on rape and incest, offers speculative reinterpretations of three plays by Hrotswitha von Gandersheim. We expect our readers will have strong reactions to these intrepid new readings that seek to make visible the sexual ideology underlying the literary works. ? Women in German Yearbook 8 Several contributions deal directly or indirectly with questions that inevitably come up in the study of noncanonical literature, especially literature by women: problems of nomenclature, traditional periodization, and aesthetic valuation as well as the question of a feminist literary canon, and, of course, the categories that feminists have used to frame their analyses. Sara Lennox reviews the feminist reception of Ingeborg Bachmann and the emergence, by the mid-1980s, of a "feminist Bachmann canon." She argues that the dominant feminist approaches to interpreting Bachmann's prose works in effect dictated what questions feminists could ask in studying this author and suggests that this may explain why several self-identified feminists subsequently produced studies of Bachmann in which gender did not figure as a category of analysis. Maria-Regina Kecht provides an introduction to and interview with Austrian writer Waltraud Anna Mitgutsch, a former Germanistin who published her first work of fiction in 1985. Kecht argues that Mitgutsch, who acknowledges her literary debt to Bachmann but neither calls herself a feminist nor emulates artistic strategies often associated with feminist literature, nevertheless succeeds in representing a specifically female perspective on reality and in depicting authentically female experience. At first glance, Mitgutsch's disclaimers—e.g., "meine Werke sind nicht feministisch"—may appear to be merely the well-known and understandable reluctance of creative writers to be forced into categories; yet the questions raised by Lennox and other contributors to this volume challenge us to look at such disclaimers with new eyes. How our feminist agendas affect our interpretation and evaluation of women's writing is also central to Susanne Kord's reexamination of the reception of nineteenth-century dramatist Caroline Pichler, whose prodigious literary output and numerous extra-domestic activities contradicted the conservative message to women that she expounded publicly and in print. Kord argues that Pichler's work has not been evaluated on its real merits, either by traditional literary critics or by feminists in the twentieth century. The feminist réévaluation of "earlier" literature by German women writers...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2578-5192
Print ISSN
2578-5206
Pages
pp. ix-xii
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-13
Open Access
No
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