UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Wider die Ges(ch)ichtslosigkeit der Frau: Weibliche Selbstbewusstwerdung zu Anfang des 17. Jahrhunderts am Beispiel der Sibylle Schwarz (1621-1638) Ganzenmueller, Petra


This dissertation focuses on the emergence of self-awareness in women of the early 17th century as exemplified by Sibylle Schwarz (1621-1638), a native of Greifswald in North Germany. It analyses the feminist components of her work. Her poetic production, preserved in the anthology Deutsche Poetische Gedichte (1650), consists of 105 poems, four prose introductions and three letters. It is the output of a writer whose short life of 17 years plays itself out against the backdrop of a century shattered by the Thirty Years' War, religious strife, the plague, oppression and social unrest. Topics such as friendship, love, female self-awareness, or the contrasting realities of women and men are the themes through which she explores an androcentric society and establishes herself as an advocate for the acceptance of women as full members of society. With her motto Du solst mich doch nicht unterdrucken ("You shall not suppress me") she insists on her equality as a woman and a writer. The defiance of her "natural" role as a woman expresses itself ambivalently, through observing social conventions while at the same time striving to undermine them. Sibylle Schwarz, unlike any other German bourgeois woman author between 1550 and 1650, has written poetry engaging in social criticism that corroborates and at the same time transcends the inferior status of women within a patriarchal structure. This unique nature of her writings makes them an important milestone in the emergence of female intellectual autonomy. The first two of six major sections state the goals of my research, a survey of the materials used and the methodology to be followed. Part III sets the context of a society in which women were limited to a narrow range of roles. In Part IV the conditions in which women lived, worked, and were brought up, from the institutionalised lack of educational opportunity to social, conventional and legal barriers to their full participation in society are being explored. Part V gives an extensive analysis of Sibylle Schwarz's work, relating it to her personal situation and to the themes already developed, with an accounting of her thoughts and ideas about her culture, her society and her gender. Part VI summarises the work and states its conclusions.

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