Women and Family Life in Early Modern German Literature

November 2003
233 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571131973
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, SOC032000, SOC028000

Women and Family Life in Early Modern German Literature

Elisabeth Wåghäll Nivre

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A study of the discourse of gender in 16th-century German popular literature.
Writers of sixteenth-century German popular literature took great interest in describing, debating, commenting on, and prescribing gender roles, and discourses of gender can be traced in texts of all kinds from this period. This book focuses on popular works by Georg Wickram, Jakob Frey, Martin Montanus, and Johann Fischart, all of whom published novels, joke books, plays and/or moral treatises on marriage and family life in Strasbourg in the sixteenth century. Their works express not only their own ideas on women's roles as wives and mothers, but also societal values at a time of religious, political, and cultural change. The view of gender issues provided by these writers is not a simple one, as they ascribed widely varying characteristics to "woman" and her relationship to "man." The book thus analyzes the social and cultural construction of the concept of "woman" as indicated not only by the narrators' comments, but also by the relationships and roles of men and women characters in the narratives. Overall, the focus is on the disparities that persisted in the sixteenth-century discourse of gender, confusing all attempts to arrive at definitive gender roles. In the end, the study argues for something that can best be described as a "flowing continuity" or a "continuous flow" in the discourses that form the sixteenth-century concepts of "woman" and "man."

Elisabeth Wåghäll-Nivre is associate professor of German at Växjö University, Sweden.

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Table of Contents

Chapbooks -- Popular Texts for a Large Audience
The Novels of Georg Wickram
Woman, Wife, Witch? The Representation of Woman in Johann Fischart's Geschichtklitterung
Polizeiordnungen: Taming the Shrew with Common Sense and the Law
Works Cited


The book will be of interest to scholars in the field of history, theology, and legal studies as well as those in its main audiences: gender studies and German and early modern literature. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

Even with the increasing number of studies on women since the 1990s, early modern literature has received very little attention. Nivre corrects this lacuna by studying four key authors: Georg Wickram, Martin Montanus, Jakob Frey, and Johann Fischart. Her stated goal is to discover how gender roles are perceived and portrayed.... With such interesting issues raised, this book should certainly spark interest in 16th-century literature. MONATSHEFTE

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