Gendering Eastern Europe in German-Jewish Ghetto and Village Tale Writing (1848-1918)

2016-10-29T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Katarzyna M. Kowalczyk
In the present study I argue that we should understand German-Jewish ghetto and village tale writing as creating imagined spaces that correspond to the material spaces of Eastern Europe and the peripheries of Austro-Hungary (1867-1918). In my analysis the question of place engages with a gendered socio-spatial configuration. More specifically, I demonstrate how the gender-space discourse informs the study of “femininity” and investigate how the geographical space of Eastern Europe is constructed by this discourse in the ghetto and village tales by Karl Emil Franzos (1848-1905), Bertha Pappenheim (1859-1936), and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-95). While by Masoch “femininity” fosters cross-cultural and cross-religious expansion, it is defined as belonging to the private domain by Franzos. Unlike by Franzos, “femininity” functions as a safeguard for gender equity by Pappenheim. Through these three distinct visualizations of “femininity” the discussed Western (Jewish) writers strive to define the position of German Jewry within the framework of Jewish migration from Eastern Europe and place their own hopes for redefinition of Jewish culture by attributing to the “feminine” realm different sociocultural agendas. The questions raised include: How does the gender-space discourse shape the awareness of Eastern Europe in turn-of-the-century German-Jewish tale writing? What message with regard to the Jewish cultural legacy do the aforementioned writers convey by gendering Eastern Europe? The four collections of tales allow for a diverse exploration of a gendered outlook on Eastern Europe: Die Juden von Barnow (1877) by Franzos illustrates how the portrayal of the imagined cultural reality of Eastern Europe facilitates the division of gender roles; Die Kämpfe (1916) by Pappenheim presents an opportunity to establish public leadership roles for Jewish women; and finally Der Judenraphael: Geschichten aus Galizien and Ausgewählte Ghetto-Geschichten (1918) by Masoch exemplify the enactment of the gender power struggle in the borderland of Galicia.