CFP: Women in German (WiG) Conference 2021 panel: Irenic Utopias: Non-Violent Women and Powerful Non-Places, Portland, Oregon (15.2.2021)

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Early/Pre-20th Century Panel

Women in German (WiG) Conference, October 2021, Portland, Oregon


2021 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rosa Luxemburg, the Marxist philosopher, revolutionary, economist and anti-war activist.  In her 1911 essay “Friedensutopien,” Luxemburg joins the dominant Marxist narrative in rejecting utopianism and bourgeois pacifist movements. Ernst Bloch would later reframe this relationship between Marxism, revolution and utopia, arguing that the revolutionary content of Marxism is precisely that which constitutes its “concrete” or “anticipatory” utopianism. In direct contrast to both scientific and utopian Marxisms, Bertha von Suttner proposes an incremental bourgeois pacifism that will arise without a violent revolution.  In her 1889 novel Die Waffen nieder!, Suttner locates her pacifiscm in a capitalist system, and in her utopian novel Der Menschheit Hochgedanken--which appeared in 1911, the same year as Luxemburg’s “Friedensutopien”-- von Suttner even imagines a billionaire who bankrolls the peace movement and changes the course of history. 


Rosa Luxemburg and Bertha von Suttner represent two positions in a much larger historical context.  Since the eighteenth century, German-speaking women have been prolific producers of pacifist and utopian literature.  For example, Sophie von La Roche, Sophie Mereau and Henriette Fröhlich imagined utopias that are, as Bloch describes, spatially removed from the problems of existing society.  Other authors such as Friederike Unger, Bettina and Gisela von Arnim, and Magda Trott imagined women’s utopias where women bring peace by eliminating abusive aspects of male society.  In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, German-speaking women locate utopia in a harmonious future, corresponding to the historical shift of the ideal topos from faraway places to an inevitable new era. 


In our 2021 WiG panel, we hope to gather a series of papers that address pacifist and utopian literature by German-speaking women from the Early Modern period through the long 19th century, including the Weimar era and Red Vienna. 


Possible topics include:

  • Relationship between utopianism, revolution and pacifism
  • Abstract vs. concrete utopias
  • Utopian re-imaginings of gender relations and sexuality
  • Models of transition to utopian society, either peaceful or revolutionary
  • Marxism as utopianism
  • Bertha von Suttner as the ultimate anti-war, peace-driven bourgeois thinker vs. Luxemburg, who dismisses reformism as utopian
  • Early utopian visions in works by authors such as Sophie von La Roche: Erscheinung am See Oneida (1798); Sophie Mereau: Elise (1800), Henriette Fröhlich: Die Kolonie von Kentucky (1820),  Bettina and Gisela von Arnim: Das Leben der Hochgräfin Gritta von Rattenzuhausbeiuns (1845)  
  • Utopian and pacifist science fiction by German-speaking women such as Emelia Bufalo della Valle: Die Deutschen und die Engländer im Mond (1873); Bertha von Suttner: Das Maschinenalter (1889), Helene Judeich: Neugermanien: Zukunftsschwank aus dem Jahre 2075 (1903) Fannie von Bernsdorf: Miki das Mondkind (1910); Auguste Groner: Mene Tekel (1910); Annie France-Herrar: Die Feuerseelen (1920) 
  • Dystopia/Utopia and the rejection of socialism in Thea von Harbou’s novels Metropolis (1925) and Die Frau im Mond (1928) as well as the film adaptations of her novels.  
  • Pacifist salons such as those of Hetta Gräfin Treuberg
  • Journalistic treatments of pacifism such as Annette Kolb: Beschwerdebuch (1932)
  • Scientific works such as Helene Stöcker: Geschlechterpsychologie und Krieg (1915)
  • Pacifist/utopian artists such as Käthe Kollwitz or Jeanne Mammen

Please submit 250-word abstracts by February 15 to Mari Jarris (, Michelle James (, and Rob McFarland (

Membership to the Coalition of Women in German will be required to present on this panel but is not required to submit an abstract. For membership information, please see

Given the volatile situation presented by the pandemic, we are not certain what the WiG conference will look like next year. At the moment, we are planning for an in-person conference in Portland, Oregon on November 4–7, 2021. We will revisit this discussion at our spring leadership meeting and will notify the membership at that point as to whether any changes are necessary and forthcoming. We suggest that you join the WiG Listserve so that you can keep up with unfolding information about the conference:  



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

Diese Ankündigung wurde von H-GERMANISTIK [Mark-Georg Dehrmann] betreut –