Women and Death: Representations of Female Victims and Perpetrators in German Culture 1500-2000

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The theme of women and death is pervasive in the German culture of the past five centuries. With the conviction that only an interdisciplinary approach can explore a typology as far-reaching and significant as this, and in accordance with the feminist tenet that images are accountable for norms, this volume investigates how iconic representations of women and death came about and why they endure. Traditionally, representations of women as agents of death — when they have been considered at all — have been ...

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Overview

The theme of women and death is pervasive in the German culture of the past five centuries. With the conviction that only an interdisciplinary approach can explore a typology as far-reaching and significant as this, and in accordance with the feminist tenet that images are accountable for norms, this volume investigates how iconic representations of women and death came about and why they endure. Traditionally, representations of women as agents of death — when they have been considered at all — have been considered separately from women as victims, as though there was no shared thematic ground. Here, familiar depictions of female victims are examined alongside the more unsettling spectacle of women as killers, exposing cultural assumptions. Essays explore, among others, the themes of virgin sacrifice and female infanticides, "Death and the Maiden" in art, female vampires in literature, and women killers in the media. Others compare cultural practices such as female mourning across historical contexts, examining change and the reasons for it. The authors' judgments eschew the simplistic and programmatic, contributing not just to current research in German literature, but also to understanding of cultural history in general. Contributors: Stephanie Knöll, Ruth B. Bottigheimer, Anna Linton, Bettina Bildhauer, Mary Lindemann, Helen Fronius, Anna Richards, Jürgen Barkhoff, Lawrence Kramer, Kathrin Hoffmann-Curtius, Clare Bielby, Gisela Ecker. Anna Linton is Lecturer in German at Kings College London, and Helen Fronius is an AHRC Research Fellow and College Lecturer at Exeter College Oxford.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction Helen Fronius Fronius, Helen Anna Linton Linton, Anna 1

1 Death and the Maiden: A German Topic? Stefanie Knoll Knoll, Stefanie 9

2 Murdering Mothers in Bible Stories and Fairy Tales in Germany, 1550-1900 Ruth B. Bottigheimer Bottigheimer, Ruth B. 28

3 Virgin Sacrifices: Iphigenia and Jephthah's Daughter Anna Linton Linton, Anna 43

4 Mourning and Violence: Kriemhild's Incorporated Memory Bettina Bildhauer Bildhauer, Bettina 60

5 Narratives of Dismembering Women in Northern Germany, 1600-1800 Mary Lindemann Lindemann, Mary 76

6 Images of Infanticide in Eighteenth-Century Germany Helen Fronius Fronius, Helen 93

7 Mourning with a Female Heart? Grief and Gender in Late Eighteenth-Century Germany Anna Richards Richards, Anna 113

8 Female Vampires, Victimhood, and Vengeance in German Literature around 1800 Jurgen Barkhoff Barkhoff, Jurgen 128

9 Murderous Women in German Opera Lawrence Kramer Kramer, Lawrence 144

10 Constructing the femme fatale: A Dialogue between Sexology and the Visual Arts in Germany around 1900 Kathrin Hoffmann-Curtius Hoffmann-Curtius, Kathrin 157

11 Media Representations of Vera Bruhne as femme fatale Clare Bielby Bielby, Clare 187

12 Gender in the Work of Grief and Mourning: Contemporary Requiems in German Literature Gisela Ecker Ecker, Gisela 203

Works Cited 221

Notes on the Contributors 257

Index 261

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