Gendering the Body in Interwar Europe

Itziar Rodriguez's picture
Call for Papers
September 30, 2016
Maryland, United States
Subject Fields: 
Women's & Gender History / Studies, Literature, Humanities

The advent of modernity and the processes of modernization in early twentieth-century Europe radically changed the existing representations of the gendered body. The advancement of science and technology, the consolidation of disciplines like sexology, eugenics, and psychology, growing urbanization, the strengthening of feminist movements, the popularity of communism and anarchism, and the development of mass culture are some of the factors that contributed to the rethinking and reshaping of sex and gender. Emerging narratives of third-gendered bodies, fear of a de-gendered society (such as in the critique of effeminate men or “garçonnes” and “neue Frauen”), describe new ways of apprehending gender, ways that will lead to the invention of the contemporary notions of gender identity and sexual orientation.

This panel seeks papers that analyze corporeality and the gendered body during the interwar period in Europe (1920s and 1930s) from different perspectives and disciplines: literature, visual arts, pulp and erotica, scientific narratives (sexology, medicine, criminology, psychology, etc.). How are narratives of the gendered bodies intertwined with the motives of the wars (the war just past, the war to come) and with various forms of fascism? How are the modernist perceptions of the gendered body exposing different social models and revealing political tensions? What part does science play in attempts to normalize the bodies?

Contributions are encouraged in, but not limited to, the following topics:

· Narratives of the queer body: transvestites, transgenders, Amazons, tribades, inverts...

· Narratives of sexual perversion and transgression

· Technology and the body

· Eugenics, the sex reform movement, and theories of race

· Sexology and theories of the third gender

To participate in this panel, please submit your abstract via the NEMLA’s website before the deadline on Sept. 30, 2016.


Contact Info: 

Itziar Rodriguez de Rivera, Cornell University

Contact Email: