To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the unification of Germany in 1990 allowed East Germans to finally travel freely to western countries. This new freedom to travel to the West not only impacted the worldview of many former GDR citizens, but also found its way into the writings of East German authors throughout the 1990s and into the present. In her study on contemporary German literature around the turn of the twenty-first century, the literary critic Christine Cosentino examines several tendencies by which contemporary German authors deal with America in their texts. One tendency she describes is “die Reise in die USA als Topos für die Suche nach Identität, die den politischen Hintergrund weitgehend ausspart” (the journey to the USA as a symbol for the search for identity, which largely leaves out the political background). This tendency—finding one's identity by traveling to America—is noticeable in literature by East German authors from the 1990s, one of whom is Angela Krauß. In many of her works, particularly in her novels Die Überfliegerin (1995) and Milliarden neuer Sterne (1999), travel to America is a catalyst for the narrator experiencing her own identity in relation to past experiences, specifically her life in East German society. The exploration of the new world manifests itself in these texts as a discovery of the narrator's inner self.
Sophie von La Roche's America novel, Erscheinungen am See Oneida (Phenomena at Lake Oneida, 1798), centers on a French aristocratic couple from Flanders who go to live on a remote island in upstate New York. Carl and Emilie von Wattines have fled to the United States from the French revolutionary Terror, in which several of their relatives lost their lives. On advice from a Quaker friend in Philadelphia, they find their way to an island in Oneida Lake. There they live without contact with other Europeans for four years, producing two children and making a modest life for themselves, before moving to a new town founded by Dutch and German settlers on the lakeshore. A narrator traveling in the region pieces their story together from what he learns from them and their friends. At the crux of the tale is how the Wattineses, Crusoe-like, manage to survive in their isolation.
Three factors play a role. First, in spite of being aristocrats, they possess a bourgeois ethic, demonstrating qualities like modesty, hard work, and resourcefulness that help them to thrive. Second, they have brought a whole library of reference books with them, including the entire Encyclopédie and Buffon's Histoire naturelle, to which they frequently refer for how-to information. Finally and most interestingly, Emilie Wattines decides to reach out and make contact with the local indigenous people, the Oneidas, when she is about to give birth.
In recent years, the works by the German-Jewish poet Gertrud Kolmar (1894–1943) have found renewed interest among scholars. Raised in the upper middle class of Berlin and fully acculturated in the German cultural heritage, Gertrud Kolmar was persecuted, under the pressure of the National Socialist regime, because of her Jewish roots. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she chose to remain in Nazi Berlin and continued to write until her death in Auschwitz in 1943. Even though her published work spanned the innovative period between 1917 and 1937, Kolmar's poetic oeuvre from the years 1927 to 1937 has received the most attention. Though neglected by scholars, Kolmar's earlier work is fascinating precisely because it gives prescient insight into her poetic adaptations of questions concerning place, power, and gender at the end of the First World War.
My essay investigates an early poem in Kolmar's work: “Die Aztekin” (The Aztec Woman), written around 1920 and published in Früher Zyklus I. In memoriam 1918. Kolmar's “Aztekin” illustrates a testing ground for colonial fantasies and gendered mappings in its imaginary space of a poetic “Aztec empire.” The poem responds not only to preestablished writings on gendered conquests in the New World but also, more specifically, rewrites them in the perceived context of an imperial apocalypse in and after 1918, between megalomaniacal power struggles and the collapse of the Wilhelmine empire.
Swiss photojournalist and author Annemarie Schwarzenbach was born in 1908 into the family of the wealthy Swiss silk manufacturer Alfred Schwarzenbach and his wife Renée Schwarzenbach-Wille and died under tragic circumstances in 1942. Schwarzenbach's life was marked by her travels to the United States, the Orient, Africa, and through Europe. In this context, during her lifetime Schwarzenbach gained recognition for her travel writing and journalism within Switzerland. For example, her work was regularly published in Zürcher Illustrierte, National-Zeitung, Luzerner Tagblatt, Thurgauer Zeitung, and the journal ABC. As recent scholarship has emphasized, “her travel writings consist of a wide range of genres: from journalistic reportages and feuilletons to stories, novels, and also poems. In addition to her journalistic and travel writing, Schwarzenbach also produced several novels and novellas that thematize same-sex relationships as well as the blurring of gender lines, such as Eine Frau zu sehen (written in 1929, published in 2008), Pariser Novelle (written in 1929, published in 2003), Freunde um Bernhard (1931), and Tod in Persien (1936), among others. This last work also reflects her travels to the Near East. Schwarzenbach's androgynous and striking physical beauty, her homosexuality, travels, and drug abuse, as well as her encounters, friendships, and liaisons with famous contemporaries, made her in public and scholarly discourses into something of an icon. This icon status and the “clear autobiographical dimension” in her work fueled biographical scholarly approaches to Schwarzenbach's oeuvre after its rediscovery in 1987 (Schwelle, 404) after “her name [had] faded into obscurity” following her death.
November 5, 1853. Ida Pfeiffer, an Austrian traveler, is on her way to a village north of Crescent City in California, and the main purpose of her visit to this region is, as she claims, to see Indians. What she finds instead are ethnically hybrid Native Americans:
Nichts erschien mir komischer als die sonderbaren Anzüge, denn auch hier lasen sie alle von den Weißen weggeworfenen Kleidungsstücke auf. So sah ich einen Indianer, welcher ein Beinkleid, eine sehr schadhafte Mantille und einen zerknitterten Frauenhut trug. Ein anderer hatte weiter nichts als einen Frack an, den er nach eigenem Geschmacke auf der Rückseite ganz mit Glasperlen benäht hatte. Ein dritter trug wieder nur eine Weste, dazu einen Männerhut, in welchen er oben ein Loch geschnitten und viele Vogelfedern aufgesteckt hatte. Ebenso geschmackvoll waren die Weiber gekleidet.
[Nothing seemed more comical to me than their strange outfits, for here too they collected all the garments discarded by the whites. I saw an Indian wearing a pair of breeches, a very ragged mantilla, and a crumpled lady's hat. Another one wore nothing but a frock coat, the back of which he had adorned with glass beads according to his own taste. A third one wore only a waistcoat and a man's hat to go with it. On its top he had cut a hole and stuck many feathers into it. The women were dressed in equally good taste.]
In the late nineteenth century, novels by the author “S. Wörishöffer” were best-sellers among young readers, rivaling the works of Karl May in popularity. Although their educational value might be debatable, Wörishöffer's adventure tales, which were set all over the world, seemed to offer the combination of excitement and exoticism that was attractive to young readers. In spite of the books' popularity, however, their readers knew virtually nothing about their author. This was no coincidence; the novelist's identity was a well-kept secret. It was not a globetrotter writing about his own experiences who was hiding behind the pen name “S. Wörishöffer.” Instead, the author lived in Altona near Hamburg and never ventured farther from home than to the East Frisian Islands. In addition, the author was not a man, as the subject matter of the stories might suggest, but a woman—Sophie Wörishöffer. In order to maintain the credibility of her works, Wörishöffer's publisher Velhagen & Klasing consciously hid such details from the public (Klasing, 658).
Nevertheless, Wörishöffer produced at least a dozen exotic adventure novels for the “reifere Knabenwelt” (readership of teenage boys), as many of them were subtitled. Their settings and the travels of their protagonists are not limited to America, but encompass the globe. For example, in her first adventure novel alone, Robert des Schiffsjungen Fahrten und Abenteuer auf der deutschen Handels- und Kriegsflotte (Robert the Cabin Boy's Journeys and Adventures with the German Merchant and Armed Fleet, 1877), Robert travels from Germany to Cuba, the United States, the Arctic Circle, South America, and via North America back to Germany, from whence he then ventures out again.
Gabriele Reuter's textsEpisode Hopkins (1889) and Der Amerikaner (The American, 1907) fall into a historic timeframe that presented German society with the challenge to define itself. Both texts reflect the struggle for a national identity based on a common cultural identity (rather than on an economic collaboration between the wars of 1871 and 1914) and the German state's unilateral position as a tactical outsider to global imperialism. At the time Der Amerikaner was produced, not quite twenty years after the foundation of the German state, the euphoric national climate that united the nation-states against the enemy around the time of the Napoleonic wars at the beginning of the century had faded, and the federal states sought for commonalities in order to stress their national identity. The historian Harold James prominently calls this disposition of the German states a “tortured quest for identity.” The contemporaneous identity crisis, James explains in A German Identity, arose from an attempt of the enemies of political liberalism to install a concept of nationalism based on “the mystical terms of community and, more and more from the 1870s, of race” instead of economic nationalism. This development ultimately lead to “a redefinition of nationality” outside of an economic framework (91). James's analysis explains the political developments that lead to the German crisis of identity, and I argue that such a redefinition shapes the zeitgeist in such a way that it is reflected in fictional works of art.
In a 1798 novel by Sophie von La Roche, a European woman swims across a cold North American lake seeking help from the local indigenous tribe to deliver a baby. In a 2008 San Francisco travel guide, Milena Moser, the self-proclaimed "Patron Saint of Desperate Swiss Housewives," ponders the guilty pleasures of a media-saturated world. Wildly disparate, these two texts reveal the historical arc of a much larger literary constellation: the literature of German-speaking women who interact with the New World. In this volume, cultural historians from around the world investigate this unique literary bridge between two hemispheres, focusing on New-World texts written by female authors from Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. Encompassing a broad range of genres including novels, films, travel literature, poetry, erotica, and even photography, the essays include women's experiences across both American continents. Many of the primary literary texts discussed in this volume are available in the online collections of Sophie: A Digital Library of Works by German-Speaking Women (http://sophie.byu.edu/). Contributors: Christiane Arndt, Karin Baumgartner, Ute Bettray, Ulrike Brisson, Carola Daffner, Denise M. Della Rossa, Linda Dietrick, Silke R. Falkner, Maureen O. Gallagher, Nicole Grewling, Monika Hohbein-Deegen, Gabi Kathöfer, Thomas W. Kniesche, Julie Koser, Judith E. Martin, Sarah C. Reed, Christine Rinne, Tom Spencer, Florentine Strzelczyk, David Tingey, Petra Watzke, Chantal Wright. Rob McFarland and Michelle Stott James are both Associate Professors of German at Brigham Young University.
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung (New Zurich newspaper), Switzerland's most prestigious German-language daily, labeled Milena Moser the “literary mother of desperate Swiss housewives.” Moser's novels address the daily lives of Swiss women, stuck between self-inflicted expectations, perfectionism, and conformism, and offer their readers “creative lines of escape.” In 1998, Moser and her family emigrated to San Francisco, where she attempted to find a new home for her family and her protagonists. The result was mixed: after eight years Moser reluctantly returned to conservative Switzerland, having been unable to secure a green card and permanent status in the United States through her writing. Moser also faced artistic challenges: writing about the tribulations of Swiss women turned out to be more difficult while living in the freewheeling atmosphere of San Francisco.
In 2008, Moser released the travel guide Flowers in Your Hair: Wie man in San Francisco glücklich wird (Flowers in Your Hair: How to Achieve Happiness in San Francisco). The book is part travel guide to San Francisco, part memoir, part love letter, and part farewell to the city Moser loves. As she did in earlier writings, Moser irreverently turns genre conventions upside down. In this book, she mixes the autobiographical with travel tips about hotels, restaurants, and sights, and guides her readers to a city and country viewed through her idiosyncratic lens. The heterogeneity of the genres used in Flowers deliberately seems to represent the heterogeneity of Moser's experiences.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.