Call for Papers
Women in German Conference
October 15-18, 2020 (Sewanee, TN, Sewanee-University of the South)
Pre-20th Century Panel: Writing in Drag: (a)gendered Storytelling
Sharon M. Wailes, Penn State University
Brandy E. Wilcox, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen, a male author of the baroque period, writes as a woman, who dresses in male clothing to pose as a soldier during the Thirty Years’ War. Heinrich von Kleist writes as a female Marquise who is raped an ends up marrying her rapist. Female writers during the 18th and 19th centuries published under male pseudonyms so that their writing would be taken seriously. The Grimm Brothers, though writing under their own names, appropriated stories often told by women (in addition to previously written stories) who are only now being rediscovered as the tellers of these tales. Even JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter franchise, hid her name and thus her gender in initially publishing her books. Gender-bending storytellers are everywhere, inside and outside of German culture, literature, and history.
This panel seeks to address questions as to the purpose of gender bending and writing under a ‘pseudogender’ in our field. What can gender-bending writers tell us about the literary, cultural, and historical implications of gender performance, gender fluidity, and non-binary (a)gendering? What can they tell us about gender assumptions and flexibility of gender concepts, or lack thereof, in their respective cultures and times? What is gained or lost when a storyteller chooses to speak under the guise of a sex other than their own? What are the implications for modern-day cultures, and how can we engage with gender-bending storytellers of the past? What sort of implications exist for our intersections with sexual politics, racial politics, colonialism and imperialism?
This panel will respond to some of these questions and generate others as we look at authors who choose to write under the guise of genders with which they don’t necessarily identify.