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Sapphic Spectres: Lesbian Gothic in Interwar German Narratives

O'Connor, Hannah 2014. Sapphic Spectres: Lesbian Gothic in Interwar German Narratives. MPhil Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Existing scholarship on interwar German lesbian narratives has largely overlooked the role of Gothicism in their portrayal of sapphic sexuality. This thesis examines the use of established Gothic motifs in Alfred Döblin’s Die beiden Freundinnen und ihr Giftmord (1924), Anna Elisabet Weirauch’s Der Skorpion (1919-31) and Annemarie Schwarzenbach’s Eine Frau zu sehen (2008). It also illustrates how the appropriation and modification of Gothic tropes, such as vampirism, haunting and doubling, reflect the ambivalence and hostility toward homosexuality internalised by the sapphic subject during the interwar period. My analysis considers the reimagining of vampiric figures in the first volume of Weirauch’s trilogy and Döblin’s fictionalised account of the scandalous 1923 Ella Klein and Margarete Nebbe case. It then outlines the sapphic uncanny aesthetic established in Schwarzenbach’s novella and the third volume of Der Skorpion, engaging primarily with Freud’s theory of the Uncanny. The thesis offers a sapphic Gothic reading of the chosen corpus of texts, broadening Paulina Palmer’s notion of lesbian Gothic and Terry Castle’s perception of the lesbian as an apparitional figure. My analysis identifies the gothicised aesthetic used in interwar lesbian narratives, such as Weirauch’s Der Skorpion and Schwarzenbach’s Eine Frau zu sehen, in order to convey internalised anxieties regarding lesbianism. These ambivalent depictions of same-sex desire invite new understandings of sapphic selfhood at this critical moment in the conceptualisation of modern lesbian identity.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Modern Languages
Uncontrolled Keywords: Lesbian Gothic Interwar German
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2016 02:30

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