By Roy Jerome
Examines masculinity in German tradition, society, and literature from 1945 to the current.
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Additional info for Conceptions of Postwar German Masculinity
The rapid modernization of society, having begun at the turn of the century, was experienced, among other things, as a threat to masculine identity. 68 Social contexts that had been stable until then, now broke apart and collapsed. As women were included in the industrial processes of production, the construction of gender identity and biological sex through the male-female dichotomy began to fragment. 69 In contrast to the avant-garde, traditionalist and premodern currents from Heimat literature through the “Conservative Revolution” and the folkist writers attempted to win back coherence by violently imposing a new cult of masculinity, mostly through male group structures; among the most well known works, one must certainly include Ernst J¨unger’s war diary, In Stahlgewittern (1920).
The disillusioning went deep, was confusing at first and then endlessly grey. The demi-god in whom the child believed was a nervous man, an instructor with a need to regain his authority. He worked on re-establishing his family, which meant: on his own controlling position in it. He examined clothes, fingernails and manners, supervised schoolwork and took each ink-blot as a reason to make a fundamental declaration about work, order, honesty and a child’s duty. . Whilst still a child I stopped going to him.
61 32 Hard-Cold-Fast Gender difference not only permeated everyday practices, it also was legitimized scientifically and philosophically. ”62 Simultaneously, however, alternative or complementary possibilities were being tested in literature up until the Romantic period. Of these, I mention only two: the cult of friendship and the attempt to give men access to “the language of the heart”—the ability to articulate and communicate feelings—which culminated in Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1778).
Conceptions of Postwar German Masculinity by Roy Jerome