Title of Abstract

Subverting the Patriarchy: Artistic Manipulations of the Female Trope in Weimar Germany

Session Title

Women's and Gender Studies

College

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Department

Department of Fine Arts

Abstract

Gendered social anxieties prevailed during the Weimar Republic as women gained the right to vote. With the rapid departure of men from Germany at the onset of World War I, women were thrust into the public sphere to fulfill necessary labor roles. This cross-over from the domestic to the public sphere incited anxiety in the male population, who felt a loss of control and dominance in an otherwise patriarchal society. In reaction to this fear, men began to both physically and societally exert their dominance over women through the science-based process of classification. By breaking the collective idea of women down into categories, men created a distinction between their idea of a woman and all those who deviated from it. The avant-garde male artists were especially influential in German society, as they visually depicted the gendered changes around them. By depicting women as subjects of these classifications, they effectively reinforced these classifications and created concrete tropes. The four main tropes that this research will address are the Neue Frau, the Garçonne, the Prostituierte, and the Mutter. In looking closely at these classifications, this research intends to reveal the flawed misconceptions of female autonomy and sexuality by visually comparing male and female artistic renderings of women in the Weimar Republic. Through more intimate and sympathetic renderings of female subjects, women artists utilized stereotypical female classifications as a way to subvert the male-created trope, painting a more complex and authentic picture of female sexuality and autonomy in the Weimar Republic.

Honors Thesis Committee

Karen Stock, Ph.D.; Michael Lipscomb, Ph.D.; and Jennifer Disney, Ph.D.

Start Date

24-4-2020 12:00 AM

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

Subverting the Patriarchy: Artistic Manipulations of the Female Trope in Weimar Germany

Gendered social anxieties prevailed during the Weimar Republic as women gained the right to vote. With the rapid departure of men from Germany at the onset of World War I, women were thrust into the public sphere to fulfill necessary labor roles. This cross-over from the domestic to the public sphere incited anxiety in the male population, who felt a loss of control and dominance in an otherwise patriarchal society. In reaction to this fear, men began to both physically and societally exert their dominance over women through the science-based process of classification. By breaking the collective idea of women down into categories, men created a distinction between their idea of a woman and all those who deviated from it. The avant-garde male artists were especially influential in German society, as they visually depicted the gendered changes around them. By depicting women as subjects of these classifications, they effectively reinforced these classifications and created concrete tropes. The four main tropes that this research will address are the Neue Frau, the Garçonne, the Prostituierte, and the Mutter. In looking closely at these classifications, this research intends to reveal the flawed misconceptions of female autonomy and sexuality by visually comparing male and female artistic renderings of women in the Weimar Republic. Through more intimate and sympathetic renderings of female subjects, women artists utilized stereotypical female classifications as a way to subvert the male-created trope, painting a more complex and authentic picture of female sexuality and autonomy in the Weimar Republic.