Good Girls, Good Germans

Good Girls, Good Germans

Girls' Education and Emotional Nationalism in Wilhelminian Germany

Jennifer Drake Askey


Camden House



Informed by recent historical research on nineteenth-century nationalism, this book demonstrates how the construction of a German national identity, especially in girls' education, came to be experienced by reading girls.
The age of nationalism in nineteenth-century Germany generally conjures up images of the Prussian military, Fürst Otto von Bismarck, and Hohenzollern kings who welded together a nation out of disparate principalities through war and domestic social policy. Good Girls, Good Germans looks at how girls and young women became "national" during this period by participating in the national community in the home, in state-sponsored Töchterschulen, and in their reading of Mädchenliteratur. By learning to subordinate desires for individual agency to the perceived needs of the national community -- what Askey calls "emotional nationalism" -- girls could fulfill their class- and gender-specific roles in society and discover a sense of their importance for the progress of the German nation.

Informed by recent historical research on nineteenth-century nationalism, Good Girls, Good Germans demonstrates how the top-down construction of a national identity, especially in girls' education, came to be experienced by reading girls. Chapters in this book examine literature published for and taught to girls that encouraged readers to view domestic duties -- and even romance -- as potential avenues for national expression. By aligning her heart with the demands of the nation, a girl could successfully display her national involvement within the confines of the private sphere.

Jennifer Drake Askey is Coordinator of Academic Program Development at Wilfrid Laurier University.


July 2013
5 black and white illustrations
212 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571135629
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, SOC032000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Emotional Nationalism and Germany's Daughters
Nationalist Education and Prussia's höhere Töchter
Father's Library: German Classics in Girls' Schools and the Ownership of German Culture
Mädchenliteratur I-Backfischbücher and Historical Novels
Mädchenliteratur II-Queen Luise


Shows that an institutional framework and a wide range of literary offerings existed which aimed to encourage the national identification of girls while also promoting a model of femininity that . . . limited the free, creative space of women . . . . It aimed to educate middle-class women to become the bearers of this patriarchal ideal with nationalist connotations. . . . (C)ontribut(es) to the gender history of German-language youth literature in English-language research. BULLETIN OF THE GERMAN HISTORICAL INSTITUTE, LONDON Askey's book provides a valuable contribution to a number of ?elds within German studies: from gender studies, women's literature, and cultural studies to youth and children's literature. (She) combines historical, cultural, and literary research to create a well-rounded and yet multi-faceted picture of the way in which female gender ideology not only developed but was intentionally crafted and disseminated in late nineteenth-century Germany. . . . Good Girls, Good Germans . . . is a wonderful addition to other recent scholarly publications on nineteenth-century non-canonical literature. MONATSHEFTE

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