Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Germanic Languages and Literatures


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Lynne Tatlock


This dissertation explores how gender, class, and national identity were constructed and presented in three prominent nineteenth-century women's magazines: Der Bazar, Illustrirte Damenzeitung, La Mode Illustrée, Journal de la Famille, and Harper's Bazar), as well as in the works of three women writers of the time: Louise Otto, Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, and Rosa Mayreder) through the lens of social, physical, and geographical mobility for women.

At a time of increasing industrialization and communication between countries of the Western world, the discourse on women's roles, as intersecting with their class and national belonging, was in many ways formed on an international level. Nineteenth-century femininity, like gender and class roles in general, thus became a product of broader discourses shaped by many voices and ideologies. This construction of class and gender roles on an international level begs the question of what remained national and particular to a given place and culture. By looking at how Der Bazar presented the image of the German wife and mother in comparison to its French and American sister publications, this dissertation offers insight into the process of forming a "German" identity during the mid to late-nineteenth century. Moreover, an analysis of the works written by Otto, Ebner-Eschenbach, and Mayreder and the ways in which these authors' texts "wrote back" to the popular discourses on femininity offers a more nuanced understanding of a complex social landscape.

As both the magazines and the works by these three women writers centered on the lives of nineteenth-century women, the texts and images presented to readers concentrated mainly on the domestic - the nineteenth-century woman's "natural" habitat. Items that were both associated with femininity and played a role in women's mobility: physical, geographical, social) were particularly telling of the roles and spaces allotted to women and the flexibility and freedom associated with them. Thus, a look at the corset and the crinoline: as symbols of physical mobility), the shoe and the riding habit: as symbols of geographical mobility) and, finally, at women's education: as a vehicle of social mobility) reveals how fashion magazines and prominent women's voices of the time engaged in the discourse surrounding women's lives.


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