Sexuality, sorority and subversion: An exploration of the literary depiction of the continuum of German women's relationships

Mitchell, Amanda Lyn (1997) Sexuality, sorority and subversion: An exploration of the literary depiction of the continuum of German women's relationships. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

[thumbnail of Thesis document] PDF (Thesis document) - Submitted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.



This thesis introduces and examines a variety of post-Wende lesbian prose texts by German authors. These works are investigated both as immediate narratives and as loci of dynamic contemporary social and cultural change. Situated at the
interface between queer and feminist studies, this thesis takes its historical context from the second Frauenbewegung and the German lesbian movement, incorporating existing feminist scholarship within these fields. In addition, its literary context
uncovers predecessors to the works analysed, with the aim of questioning the conceptual continuum of German-language lesbian writing. The approach adopted throughout the study is strongly thematic, with the textual spectrum sub-divided into
the representation of an allegorical life-cycle. The themes of 'coming out' as a lesbian within heterosexual society, heterosocial obstacles to gynocentric relationships, the significance of lesbian pornography, and the problems of death and bereavement combine to form the principal focus. Issues of identity construction, the homosexual alterity and the literary manipulation of space all play crucial roles within this investigation. Equally, the manner in which each author comments upon contemporary German society is revealed through analysis of her approaches to these thematics.
The conclusions drawn from this research point to a dislocation which is shown to have occurred insofar as recourse to Sapphic traditionalism and homosexual antiquity may no longer be seen to be as prevalent in some lesbian works. Whereas
German lesbian authors of the 1970s and 1980s manipulated homosexual mythology and appropriated the works of classical lesbian icons, some post-Wende writers are now turning instead to the work of their peers. A rupture is, in fact, seen to have
occurred between the traditional, and more contemporary canons.
Paradoxically, a renewal of authorial interest in otherwise customary literary inquiries such as marginalisation, female silencing and fidelity is also identified, with potential explanations for the persistent significance of such themes being offered. Similarly, a continuing impulse on the part of some 1990s lesbian authors to challenge the paradigm of heterosexual convention is highlighted.The 1990s social focus of this challenge, however, is new inasmuch as the texts are seen to be orientated not against a dominant male culture, but rather to be in specific opposition to heterocentrism.
Finally, the works of two specific authors have been identified as potentially rich sources of further academic enquiry. These writers have been shown to embody the principles of 1990s German lesbian writing, in terms of their bold depictions of
sexuality, playful subversion and pervasive sense of gynocentric sorority.

Repository Staff Only: item control page