UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Dimensions of Bildung in the novels Eine jüdische Mutter, Nach Mitternacht, and Kindheitsmuster Toor, Gorsharn Glory


In my dissertation I analyze the three novels Eine jüdische Mutter by Gertrud Kolmar, Nach Mitternacht by Irmgard Keun, and Kindheitsmuster by Christa Wolf within the paradigm of the genre of the female Bildungsroman and female anti-Bildungsroman. Ideas of belonging to an imagined community, perceived gender norms, and the power of the state play a critical role in determining the outcome of the protagonists’ Bildung, as does the status of the female protagonist. The theories of Benedict Anderson, Judith Butler and Giorigo Agamben provide a useful theoretical framework for this analysis. In Eine jüdische Mutter, set during the Weimar Republic Martha Wolg is deemed an outsider because of refusal to adhere to certain gender norms and her Jewish identity. She is unable to find a compromise with her society because she refuses to incorporate her experiences into her Bildung. In contrast, Sanna Moder does incorporate her experience in Nach Mitternacht, but goes into exile because she does not want to belong to a society in the Third Reich. In Kindheitsmuster, set in the Third Reich and the German Democratic Republic, the protagonist Nelly Jordan is an accepted member of the imagined German community, but she too faces difficulty in her Bildung. The outcome of my research shows how racism, sexism, narrowly defined gender norms, and the type of political state have a profound impact on the Bildung of the protagonists.

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