Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Germanic Languages and Literatures


English (en)

Date of Award

Summer 9-1-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Lynne Tatlock


This dissertation explores women writers' literary representations of women in the context of nineteenth-century industrialization in Germany with the intention of showing to what extent women's lives and labor were influenced and shaped by the overarching changes in the wake of industrialization. By specifically looking at works by Helen Böhlau, Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Louise Otto, Gabriele Reuter, and Clara Viebig, this dissertation examines how these women writers used literary texts to demonstrate the artificiality of (middle-class) women's socially-prescribed domesticity. They highlighted different ways in which women's lives were influenced by industrial modernity, thereby connecting women to overarching social, political, and economic developments outside of the domestic sphere. With their novels and stories, these women writers contributed to a greater presence of women in the public sphere and commented on the discrepancies between a society experiencing change due to ongoing developments of industrial modernity and continuing to enforce rigid gender roles of women. This study arrives at the conclusion that the industrial process was inevitable and that women writers perceived it as a reality that needed to be negotiated, potentially offering new possibilities for women's lives while challenging their existing identities.


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