November 1977 Newsletter


November 1977 Newsletter


Germanists; Congresses; Feminism



Number 13
November 1, 1977
Subscription fee: $2.00 per year ($1.00 if unemployed)

This year, for the second time, our Women in German Conference/Retreat in Oxford, Ohio was a great success, giving us the much needed opportunity not only to share information and exchange ideas among a group of equals, but also to sing and dance together and to get to know each other on the personal level. We saw a lot of new faces from all parts of the country—some women came from as far away as Hawaii and Oklahoma. In fact, some people had only read about us in the PMLA, took a chance by attending—and loved it! This makes it clear that it is not only our newsletter which serves as a connection for Women in German, but also the more established journals. The word is spreading fast! The papers, presentations, and discussions at the conference were stimulating, and there was great enthusiasm about interdisciplinary approaches and branching out into such different fields as history and sociology.

A great number of us felt, however, that we have outgrown the format of our conference. We have help traditional conferences for two years now, with short informal presentations and panel discussions. But for many, the best part of the conference has always been the atmosphere and the more informal discussions developing at the retreat. We have decided, therefore, to change the format of future conferences in order to encourage greater participation and to involve as many people as possible. Next year’s conference will be in the form of a two-day workshop with several Arbeitsgruppen: details appear later in this issue.

For the first time this year, the papers delivered at the Women in German Conference were distributed in printed form as proceedings. Copies are still available for all of you, and be sure to get your libraries to order copies, too. They can ordered from: Kay Goodman, Dept. of German, Russian and East Asian Languages, Miami Univ., Oxford, Ohio 45056 ($2 for individuals, $4 for institutions).

Last but not least, on behalf of ourselves and all conference participants we would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Miami University women who organized the conference/retreat with so much care and enthusiasm.


At the second annual Women in German Conference/Retreat, we discussed various ways of restructuring the third conference (1978) in order to encourage greater involvement on the part of all participants. It seemed to us that Arbeitsgruppen could facilitate collective work by breaking up the conventional formalities of academic conferences, encouraging greater involvement, and eliminating the typical spit between “active” paper-givers and a “passive” audience. Far from decreasing academic work, the formation of Arbeitsgruppen has the potential of opening up new avenues and methods of research. Collective work requires one to consider closely the results of others’ research and to attempt to synthesize it with one’s own work in order to bring forth a product that it greater than the sum of its parts. Since we are


scattered through out the country, the ways and means of working together may well appear difficult at this point; but we are determined to make a go of it and are confident that the results will be quite worthwhile.

If you are interested in working with one or more of the Arbeitsgruppen, you should contact the individuals listed below, who have volunteered to function as coordinators. The groups will establish their own agendas, but it should be kept in mind that we are working toward a project for next year’s conference which will benefit all of us. These suggestions are being made because we would like the next conference to stimulate a free exchange of the kinds of ideas, thoughts, problems, and solutions which are usually blocked at formal academic conferences. We don’t have enough time and energy to “dance around the golden calf” of academic pretense, and we must focus ipn our most urgent concerns.

Therefore, women, work collectively: Frauen Gemeinsam Sind Stark! The following Arbeitsgruppen were agreed upon:

1. Sexism in the German Language
Pat Russian      
c/o Women in German, German Dept.
Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis. 53763

Detti Ledschowski       
Dept. of German
University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill. 60637

2. Women Authors in the 19th Century

Elke Frederiksen          
Dept. of Germanic and Slavic Lang. and Lit.
Univ. of Maryland, College Park, Md. 20742

Kay Goodman              
German Dept., Miami University
Oxford, Ohio 45056

3. Contemporary Women’s Culture

Evelyn Beck    
German Dept.
University of Wisc., Madison, Wis. 53706

4. The Women’s Question and Aesthetics

Sara Lennox

Pat Herminghouse        
Dept. of German
Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. 63130

Since many of us will see each other at the MLA in Chicago, it has been suggested that we could start with the concrete organization right there. Jeanette Clausen (Purdue Univ., Fort Wayne, 2101 Coliseum Blvd. E., Fort Wayne, Ind. 46805) and Androne Willeke [redacted] volunteered as general co-ordinators for next year’s conference which will again be held in Oxford, Ohio on the third weekend of September.



Friday evening’s discussion centered around Volker Schlöndorff’s film Strohfeuer (“A Free Woman”) which was released in 1972; script by Margarete von Trotta and Volker Schlöndorff; photography by Sven Nykvist (Ingmar Bergmann’s cameraman!). Although “A Free Woman” has been called by one critic “the first masterpiece of the women’s liberation movement” and a really “fine film” in which “form and content are one”, the heated discussion at the retreat opened up more questions that it settled. In order to keep the debate alive and to solicit response from those of you who could not make it to the retreat, we have provided some pro’s and con’s. If you are interested in ordering the film, write to: [redacted] The film costs $125 for restricted rental.

Strohfeuer – Pro

The film Strohfeuer by Volker Schlöndorff is a striking portrayal of a woman trying to become a functional member of a male-dominant society. It has been criticized for showing women as lacking in real consciousness and definitive goals. Because Elizabeth is not portrayed as a strong feminist either theoretically or practically it has been feared that her submission to the patriarchy will be seen as confirming the status quo. Not so.

Like Brecht, the director uses a seemingly weak character not only to criticize society or individuals, but, by pointing out these weaknesses, to show the audience that things ought to be different. The attitudes that Elisabeth faces are rigid, but is made clear that these attitudes can and should be changed. Society is shown as alterable in spite of the resistance that social change inevitably meets.

On a tour of an art museum, Elisabeth and her unmarried, pregnant friend are shown the historical role of women in art—either passive childbearers or objects of lust. This scene encapsulates the whole thrust of the movie. We are presented with the historical facts as a negative situation but together with Elisabeth are incited to search for alternatives. Elisabeth’s subsequent failures, however, prevent the viewers from fully identifying with her and motivate them to another, more successful course of action. In contrast to traditional film, this film does not depend upon emotional identification which forces the audience to accept the character’s decisions as unalterable.

The film is subtitled “A Sad Comedy”. Although the classical definition of comedy—ending with wedding bells—is certainly fulfilled, the director’s irony gives an unusual twist to the Hollywood-style, “happy ending” variety of marriage. Elisabeth’s marriage is clearly the burial of her own struggle for life. The viewers realize she is making a mistake, and their inability to prevent her “death” in matrimony compels them to reconsider the state of their own lives and to question whether they, too, might not have alternatives.

By taking the male point of view, the camera actually accentuates Elisabeth’s entrapment and isolation as a woman. The long, scrutinizing shots of her legs and figure are a painful statement on the everyday objectivation of women. The camera’s habitual elimination of Elisabeth’s head from the frame, as in the opening scene, is reminiscent of the “Nana” image she is accused of resembling at the very moment she attempts to overcome it. Her short dresses themselves seem to be yet another societal trap for her. Unlike her male counterparts, she is constantly being judged by the men around her, and even by the camera, on the basis of her body rather than on what she says or does. But in one of the final scenes of the film, her future husband stuffs a washcloth in Elisabeth’s mouth to silence her; the camera zooms in on her frightened face before picking up the narrative again.


The director, like Brecht, uses his art to instruct as well as to criticize. Gesellschaftsanklage which excludes the possibility of an alternative is not enough. This film is enough.

Amy Bley
Kay Burns

Strohfeuer – Contra

Schon die etwas hitzige Discussion, die die Vorführung des Filmes anregte, und die Verschiedenheiten der Meinungen über dessen Aussage erheben ernste Zweifel an seiner Brauchbarkeit als didaktisches Moment im Hinblick auf die Frauenemanzipation.

Im Rahmen einer Scheidungsgeschichte wird das neu begonnene Leben einer nun “freien” Frau geschildert. Dabei werden zwar ihre Schwierigkeiten und Frustrationen in einer in jeder Hinsicht feindlichen Männerwelt “realistisch”, ja, recht spannend auf die Leinwand gemalt, doch nie analy tisch erfaßt. Wir erfahren nicht einmal die näheren Grunde der von ihr in Gang gesetzten Scheidung. Der Weg ihrer angeblichen Freiheit fuhrt vom Bruch mit einer unglücklichen Ehe zu einer neuen Bindung. Allerdings mit dem Unterschied, daß Elisabeth der sexuellen Rolle, die die Gesellschaft ihr früher aufzwang, nun freiwillig, beinahe lüstern, zustimmt. Ironischerweise beschreiben gerade die wie vom Himmel gefallenen Worte eines “welterfahrenen“, brüderlichen Kunsthistorikers die Situation der Frau am prägnantesten und erhellen den historischen Prozeß der gängigen Unterdruckungsmechanismen. Doch selber stellt sich Elisabeth solche Fragen nie, und ihre bürgerlichen Wertvorstellungen werden weiterhin weder kritische analysiert, noch in Zusammenhang mit ihrer gesellschaftlichen Unterdrückung gebracht.

Der Film trägt folglich zur Stereotypisierung der Frau bei—nämlich als Sexobjekt, wie es uns die Kameraführung nie vergessen läßt, als dummes Gänschen und als emotionelles Wesen, das letzten Endes auf die Hilfe eines “verständnisvollen, reifen“ Mannes angewiesen ist, der zur rechten Zeit alles wieder gut macht. Sogar die Frau, der es gelungen ist, unabhängig zu werden, wird in der Person der kalt berechnenden Anwältin verstummelt und anderen Frauen gegenüber negativ kontrastiert.

Was dem Film überhaupt fehlt, ist eine optimistische Perspektive, ohne die jedes emanzipatorische Moment in der Gesellschaft schon im Keime erstickt wird.

Sollte der Film vielleicht dazu dienen, uns zu provozieren? Dann bleibt die Frage, ob Provokation und dramatisch offene Form als geeignete Mittel zur Aufklarung dienen? Oder ob nicht vielmehr die Gefahr besteht, daß der/die naivere Zuschauer/in zu schweren Mißdeutungen gelangt, idem die gezeigte Situation dieser Frau als tragisches gegenüber eignen Emanzipationsbestrebungen resultieren könnte?

Yvette Brazell


Sunday morning, we shared information on a number of issues. Among others, Elke Frederiksen talked about her summer research in the 2 Germanies and the bibliography she had collected on women’s topics. Since there was so much information in such a short time, we thought it helpful to provide you with the complete list. Here it is:



Christa Wolf, Kindheitsmuster. Neuwied: Lchterhand, 1977. (Aufbau-Verlag Berlin und Weimar, 1976)

Brigitte Schwaiger, Wie kommt das Salz ins Meer. Zsolnay, 1977. Search for identity, woman protesting against stereotypes roles.

Renate Schostack, Zwei Arten zu Lieben. München: Piper, 1977. Received the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize this year.

Journal Nr. 5Aufständische Kultur. Ed. By Verena Stefan & Kathrin Mosler. 1976. Report on the meeting of writing women in 1976. Interviews with Irmtraud Morgner, Karin Struck, Christa Reinig. Essays on Marie-Luise Fleisser and her relationship with Brecht, Anna Seghers and others.

Emma. June 1977 ed. Report on an exhibition which opened in Freiburg on the theme “Frauen in der deutschsprachigen Literatur nach 1945.” Summary of opening speech by Ingeborg Drewitz which tried to show in general terms what German women writers try to express in literature after 1945 in contrast to men.

Kursbuch 47, devoted to women. Berlin: Kursbuch Verlag, 1977. Ed. By Karl Markys Michel and Harald Wieser. A collection of articles on such topics as “Emanzipation macht Angst,” “Unter lauter Männern,” or “Troubadora und Meisterin,” which discusses the social position of women in the 14th and 15th Centuries.

Ursula Krechel, Nach Mainz. Darmstadt, Luchterhand Verlag, 1977. West German feminist, author of play Erica (1974). Collection of poetry which discusses the dependence of women on men and the secret hope of revolt for women.

Sara Kirsch. Rückenwind. Gedichte. Ebenhause: Lanwiesche-Brandt, 1977


Frauenjahrbuch 76. München: Verlag Frauenoffensive, 1976. Ed. By the yearbook group of the Munich Women’s Center. Sections concern everyday feminism, new information on Para. 218 and on the old and new divorce laws, lost women’s books, new books, records etc.

Inge Frick Helmut Kommer, Antje Kunstmann, Siegfried Lang, Frauen befreien sich. München: Frauenbuchverlag, 1976. Pictorial history of women’s work and women’s movement in Germany from its beginning to the newer movement and is problems.


Jutta Menschick, Feminismus. Köln: Pahl-Reugenstein Verlag, 1977. Discussion from the radical to conservative feminism. Gives applications through history and in various phases and parts of life, i.e., childhood, housework, etc.

Marie-Louise Janssen-Jurreit, Sexismus: Über die Abtreibung der Frauenfrage München: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1976. The author uses an historical-theoretical approach. She sees sexism in all aspects of life and finds a solution only in separation from men.

Erica Fischer, Brigitte Lehmann, Kathleen Stoffl, Gewalt gegen Frauen. Köln: Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1977. Written by three Austrian women. The ideas grew out of an international meeting in Brussels, where women discussed violence in the family, rape, etc. Practical approach.


Scheidungsratgeber, Jan. 1977. Ed. By Hamburg women lawyers for women’s groups. Examines the new divorce law in Germany (effective July 1977) in contrast to the old law.

Ursula Erler, Mütter in der BRD. München: Frauenverlag, 1976 (Neuauflage).

Ursula Erler. Zerstörung und Selbstzerstörung der Frau. Emanzipationskampf der Geschlechter auf Kosten des Kindes. Stuttgart: Seewalt Verlag, 1977.

Ursula Scheu, Wir werden nicht als Mädchen geboren  -- wir werden dazu gemacht. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1977. Discusses how women are taught feminine roles through early childhood training in today’s society.

Gabriele Deutsch-Herl, Tagesmütter – Tageskinder. Köln: Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1977. Discusses the theoretical aspects of day care mother models. Gives practical, concrete advice for parents who wish to use day care centers as well as for day care workers.

Maria-Antoniette Macciocchi, Jungfrauen, Mütter und ein Führer. Berlin: Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, 1976. Discussions on the role of women in fascism.


Lieselotte Berger, Lenelotte von Bothmer, Helga Schuchardt, Frauen ins Parlament? Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, 1976. Not feminist inclined, but gives views of 3 women (CDU, SPD, FDP) on the situation of women in politics in the FRG. Good charts.

Elke Frederiksen
University of Maryland




Wig sessions at the coming MLA will be held on the 29th of December in Room 414 of the Conrad Hilton from 1:00 – 2:15 and from 2:45 to 4:00 pm.

Paper Abstracts: Women and Literary Circles in the Nineteenth Century II.

Lou Andreas-Salomé: An Ambivalent Feminist and Her Association with the “Freie Bühne”

Interesting parallels may be found between the attitude of the German Naturalists toward the emancipation of women and that of one the most visible contemporary examples of it, Lou Andreas-Salomé. Like the Naturalists, Lou proclaimed woman’s need for individual freedom and self-fulfillment, and she realized this in her own personal and professional life. As an individual, then, she carried into practice the theory of freedom and emancipation for women which was widely touted by the Naturalists but almost never transformed into sympathetic artistic expression in their works, or practiced in their personal lives. A similar contradiction is found in Lou’s critical and literary works and theoretical studies on women however. She shared her contemporaries’ dislike and distrust of the stereotyped emancipated women (cod, unfeminine, sterile), and this can be seen in her reviews of some Naturalist dramas and particularly in her studies on women at the end of the century. She also had doubts about woman’s creative abilities and shared to some extent her time’s contempt for women and affirmation of man’s dominance in personal and social relationships. The ambivalence within her feminist theory may be documented in her early literary and critical works, including her study of Henrik Ibsens Frauengestalten (1891). In the contradiction between feminist theory and practice, Lou proves herself to be, like her Naturalist contemporaries, a product of her times and of her intellectual, upper-middle class milieu.

Linda Schelbitzki Pickle
Westminister College, Mo. 

Der Anneke Salon – ein “Libertiner” Kreis

Die ersten Salons entstanden zur Zeit der Renaissance in Italien und breiteten sich später auch in Deutschland aus. Unter der Oberhoheit einer Frau wurde verfeinerte Geselligkeit gepflegt, die mit intellektuellen, vor allem literarischen Gesprächen verbunden war. Die Glanzzeit der Salons war von einer privilegierten Schicht getragen. In der Spätzeit werden Salons auch in wirtschaftlich bescheideneren Kreisen populär. So ein Salon entstand bei Mathilde Anneke in Köln.

Zuerst in Münster als “Libertiner“ Kreis verfemt, versammelten sich die revolutionären Geister dann im Anneke Salon zu Köln. Lassalle, Moritz Heß, Willich, Gottschalk trafen sich mit Freiligrath, Hoffmann von Fallersleben, Simrock oder Kinkel. Mathilde verfaßte verschiedene Kampfschriften, z.B. Das Weib im Conflict mit den sozialen Verhältnissen, trat für die Befreiung Deutschlands und die Gleichberechtigung der Frauen ein. Sie gab eine revolutionäre Tageszeitung heraus, die sie für eine Zeit auch als Frauenzeitung führte.


Der Anneke Salon unterschied sich von seinen viel berühmteren Vorläufern duch die Bescheidenheit des äußeren Rahmens, vor allem aber durch einen auf Aktion gerichteten Geist, der eine Veränderung der Gesellschaft herbeizuführen bestrebt war. Der Salon hörte auf zu bestehen, als Mathilde Anneke ihrem Mann auf das Schlachtfeld der Revoution von 1849 folgte.

Salons stellen ein Kapitel in der Geschichte der Frauenbewegung dar. In der Glanzzeit, die von einer privilegierten Schicht getragen war, ist es ein friedliches Kapitel. Es beweist, daß sich der Verstand der Frau mit dem des Mannes zu messen vermag. In der Spätzeit der Salon wird der Anneke Salon zum Beispiel für die Entwicklung eines militanten Geistes, der sich von nun an unter den Frauen aller Volksschichten zu regen beginnt.

Maria Wagner

Woman: the Other. Laura Marholm’s view and the Friedrichshagen Writer’s Colony 

Literary concepts from abroad fell upon receptive ears in the congenial intellectual environment of the Friedrichshagen (Berlin) writers’ colony. The circle also known as Young Germany, consisted of authors, critics and publishers such as the Brothers Hart, Wille, Bölsche, and Holz. Its program sought to bend creative artistic thought with the needs of the masses projected by the social issues of early 1980’s. Ola Hansson, and his wife, Laura Marholm, was most welcomed. Marhol, in her own right and author and critic, and of Baltic German extraction, enthusiastically discussed one of the great issues of the day, feminism.

Marholm delighted through her stimulating talks the Friedrichshagen circle and the colony’s frequent guests such as Dauthendey, Dehmel, Carl and Gerhart Hauptmann, Przybyzweki and others. Eentually her views found wider acceptance through published articles, novels and books. Esteeming the ideas of Neitzsche and those of her husband, Marholm went on to proclaim her insight into the nature of woman: emancipation for woman begins with the realization that she is totally other than man, and that independence is rooted in psychophysiological self-understanding.

Marholm’s doctrine, conflicting with popular notions based on Ibsen’s concept of the emancipated woman, challenged the superficial woman’s rights movements, whose ideal woman, in Ibsenian fashion, was recreated in the masculine image. Marholm also fought against the portrayal of woman as a monster, as created by Strindberg. That such aberrant women ceased as characterizations in subsequent German literature is a tribute to the receptive intellects of members of Young Germany and their followers willing to accept a ore convincing approach.

David R. Hume
Univ. of Louisville.

“Dem Reich der Freiheit werb’ ich Bürgerinnen!”: The Heady Rise and Fall of Louise Otto’s Frauenzeitung

Louise Otto’s Frauenzeitung is a rarely-seen, fascinating example oft he first stirrings of a bourgeois German women’s movement. Its short life span (it was published regularly from April, 1849 until 1852) does not detract from the power of its


message, for it became a rallying point for both the political and social advancement of German women. The paper provides a brief history of the journal as well as an analysis of certain major issues raised in its pages: the improvement of educational and employment opportunities, the role of the German Catholic movement, the importance of the changes wrought by the 1948 revolution.

The basic source is an almost complete copy of the journal itself, collected over a period of years from libraries and archives in the Federal Republic and the GDR.

Ruth-Ellen Boetcher Joeres
University of Minnesota



Remember that there will be two Women in German sessions at the AATG/ACTFL meeting in San Francisco, one on pedagogy and one on literature.

Affirmative Action in the Teaching of German: Erasing Stereotypes

Thursday, Nov. 24 4:00 – 6:00 pm
Embarcadero A, intermediate level

This session, co-chaired by Marjorie Tussing and Jeanette Clausen, will present successful approaches to dealing with sex-stereotyping in teaching materials for language, literature, and culture courses. It is planned to include audience participation; handouts for each presentation and a bibliography will be distributed.

The program will include the following presentations: “Und Frau Meyer ist natürlich in der Küche“ (first-year materials), Ruth Sanders and Audrone Willeke of Miami University; “Sex-Stereotypes in the Teaching of Culture: The documentary Film”, Bärbel Becker-Cantarino of the University of Texas at Austin; “Men and Women in the Art of the Third Reich: Documents of Subjugation”, Richard Johnson of Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne; “Erasing Stereotypes in Teaching Literature”, Elena Offstein of the University of Santa Clara.

In addition, we have invited two speakers whose perspectives on sexism in teaching materials should be of interest to everyone. Constance Putnam, publishing representative from Houghton Mifflin, will be present to answer questions about the publisher’s role in the production of textbooks. Wolff von Schmidt of the University of Utah, co-author of First-Year German, will talk about the revisions that this textbook which was critiqued at the 1976 AATG Women in German session, is now undergoing.

In all, it promises to be a lively and worthwhile program, so please plan to attend, and tell your friends.

Women in German will have a session at the ACTFL/AATG Annual Meeting in San Francisco on “Women and German Literature.” The session will be held on Friday, November 25, 1977, 8:45-10:00 am at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The coordinators, Elizabeth Strodach (University of Cincinnati) and Marlene Heinemann (Indiana University), have selected


papers dealing with new and neglected German female writers as well as images of women in German literature of the past and present. THe papers and their authors are as follows:

  1. “Die bleibende Rolle der Rahel Sanzara,” Diana Orendi-Hinze, (John Carroll University)
  2. „GDR Women Writers oft he 70’s“ Karen Achberger, (University of Oregon)
  3. “Women, Sexual Variance, and Inversion in German Literature,” Sally Tubach, (University of California, Berkely)

A Business meeting for Women in German will also be held at the Annual Meeting; time and location will be announced during this session. All members and friends of Women in German are urged to attend.


We appreciate letters like this and thought we would share them with you.

… I would love to have the button which came out recently, with the clenched fist in the feminine symbol. Not only do I find it very witty and well-conceived, but also does it singnal an approach which I totally share…

Susanne Zentop


What Historians are Reading:

Franklin Kopitzsch, hrag., Aufklärung und Bürgertum in Deutschland. München, 1976. Nymphenburger Texte zur Wissenschaft 24.

Henri Brunschwig. Enlightenment and Romanticism in Eighteenth Century Prussia. Univ. of Chicago Press, 1974 (paper later). French 1947.

Both are juicy guides to social history of the 18th century!



This newsletter was prepared by Evelyn Torton Beck, Yvette Brazell, Nadia Donchenko, Angelika Haag-Schalter, Viktoria Harwig, Biddy Martin, Marsha Meyer, Jim Steakley, Gabriele Strauch and Christa Stutius.


Enclosed, please find my $2 ($1) for a year’s subscription to Women in German. Send your check to: Women in German, German Dept., University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706

Name ___________________________

Adress __________________________


Beck, Evelyn Torton
Brazell, Yvette
Donchenko, Nadia
Angelika, Haag-Schalter
Harwig, Viktoria
Martin, Biddy
Meyer, Marsha
Steakley, Jim
Strauch, Gabriele
Stutius, Christa


Women in German archives




Women in German













Beck, Evelyn Torton et al., “November 1977 Newsletter,” Women in German Herstory Project, accessed October 2, 2022,