Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Germanic Languages and Literatures


English (en)

Date of Award

Summer 8-27-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Carol L. Tatlock


This investigation focuses roughly on the interval between 1870 and 1890, which can be described as the formative period of the German Empire. It seeks to understand how the development of a national identity in Imperial Germany contributed to the notion that certain expressions of masculinity formed the “German character,” i.e., the notion that there was a particular German masculinity.

Chapter one offers an examination ofFrau Erdmuthens Zwillingssöhneby Louise von François,Colberg,Er soll dein Herr sein, andDas Glück von Rothenburgby Paul Heyse, andEin Held der FederandAm Altarby E. Werner. While each of these writers addressed a slightly different readership, they were all widely read and their works therefore can be understood as a reflection of popular taste in this period. The analyses of these six works demonstrate how writers in the 1870s and 1880s were able to integrate into their texts the notions of masculinity put forth by, among others, Ehrenberg and Siede, combining the qualities of a strong will, physical prowess, and spiritual or cultural vigor to shape their male characters. These literary representations of German men implicitly attribute the foundation of the unified state to the strength of German masculinity and thereby create an image of German manhood that answers the fears of early-nineteenth-century texts lamenting a general weakness of the male population and thus the vulnerability of the nation.

In the following chapter, the male figures in Theodor Fontane's Ellernklipp and Mathilde Möhring, Wilhelm Raabe's Das Odfeld and Wunnigel, and Theodor Storm's Draußen im Heidedorf and Hans und Heinz Kirch are shown to be countertypes to the German masculine stereotypes observed in chapter one. While Fontane, Raabe, and Storm remain ambivalent in their support or subversion of hegemonic models of masculinity in these texts, it is quite clear that the stereotype does not constitute for them the sole acceptable model of masculine behavior for German men. Using Walter Erhart's concept of masculine narratives, this chapter shows that even those characters that adhere to that model are often depicted as incapable of continuing their genealogical line or as meeting the same fate as the characters that do not adhere to it. The writers in this group thus problematize the notion that there is one “proper” type of German masculinity.

Chapter three offers a renewed look at a work by Fontane,Cécile, and two by Storm,Eine HalligfahrtandBötjer Basch. It reevaluates these works as regional literature that presents the characters' attainment of masculinity as intimately tied to their allegiance with one particular region within the empire. The texts thus subvert the idea of a single prevailing German masculinity and instead project a multiplicity of masculinities in Imperial Germany. At the same time they do not necessarily undermine the hegemonic stereotype, but they highlight the significance ofHeimatas defined by local landscape and geography for the construction of gender identity.


This work is not available online per the author’s request. For access information, please contact or visit

Permanent URL: