CFP: WiG-sponsored Panel: "Alternative Families in German-language Women’s Writing", Washington, D.C. (17.01.2020)

Sarah Reed's picture

German Studies Association

October 1-4, 2020

Washington, D.C.


Panel: Alternative Families in German-language Women’s Writing       


The middle class nuclear family has often been held up as a standard model for families since its emergence in the German-speaking worlds in the 19th century. This model of family is associated with strict gender roles, with the father supporting the family through his participation in the public sphere and the mother managing the household through affective power. Although socially constructed, it has been essentialized and naturalized as an ahistorical phenomenon.   


This panel seeks to explore how German-language women’s writing presents alternatives to this model. Among other questions, we are interested not only in how women’s writing problematizes the idea of the middle class family, but how women’s writing imagines other possibilities. How does German-language women’s writing imagine alternative families moving beyond a heteronormative construct? An alternative family could entail emphasizing matrilineal genealogies, reversing or deconstructing male and female spheres in the household and public spaces, rejecting marriage as the foundation of a family, choosing a partner who would be deemed socially unsuitable (due to gender, religion, race, class, nationality, ability, etc.), or challenging the emphasis on reproduction and motherhood within the family. Even as detractors may call them communes, love nests, or terrorist cells, alternative families can threaten legal, political, and economic hegemonies. 


We welcome papers addressing materials from all German-speaking contexts and all time periods.


Send 350-word abstracts by January 17, 2020 to both organizers: Sarah Reed ( and Margaret Reif ( This panel is sponsored by the Coalition of Women in German.


Redaktion: Constanze Baum – Lukas Büsse – Mark-Georg Dehrmann – Nils Gelker – Markus Malo – Alexander Nebrig – Johannes Schmidt

Diese Ankündigung wurde von H-GERMANISTIK [Lukas Büsse] betreut –