Presenter Information

Anna Kyle, Bryn Mawr CollegeFollow

Date

4-30-2020

Description

The German colonial project was supported by various groups of societally elite, politically active women starting in the early 1880s, shortly after Germany's decision enter the colonial race. Frieda von Bülow, who is considered the founder of the German colonial novel, played a very active role in supporting these groups. As a proud nationalist, she made clear through her novels that Germany could only get stronger through the acquisition of colonies. In her novel Tropenkoller, von Bülow is primarily concerned with the ideas of power and control; more specifically, how control is obtained. Through her characters of Eva Biron and Ludwig von Rosen, she makes clear that a woman can only achieve power in a society insofar that she can practice control. This control is only described as possible through female conformity to the male, nationalistic ideal, as well as through control in medical situations (e.g. through Biron's role of nurse). Female control is thus structured through similarity to men and male dependency on women. Von Bülow is not concerned about transforming the patriarchal societal standard, but instead promotes conformity. However, women differ in one vital way: The "ideal" man exercises a limited form of violence in order to achieve control, whereas the "ideal" woman apathetically looks on, thus exercising her own form of control in a situation she really has no choice in. Von Bülow's feminism, therefore, mirrors the problematic German imperialism of the time: Only those who possess control over others in society are able to advance.

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Apr 30th, 12:00 AM

Thirst for Power: Frieda von Bülow's Depiction of Feminine Control in her Novel Tropenkoller

The German colonial project was supported by various groups of societally elite, politically active women starting in the early 1880s, shortly after Germany's decision enter the colonial race. Frieda von Bülow, who is considered the founder of the German colonial novel, played a very active role in supporting these groups. As a proud nationalist, she made clear through her novels that Germany could only get stronger through the acquisition of colonies. In her novel Tropenkoller, von Bülow is primarily concerned with the ideas of power and control; more specifically, how control is obtained. Through her characters of Eva Biron and Ludwig von Rosen, she makes clear that a woman can only achieve power in a society insofar that she can practice control. This control is only described as possible through female conformity to the male, nationalistic ideal, as well as through control in medical situations (e.g. through Biron's role of nurse). Female control is thus structured through similarity to men and male dependency on women. Von Bülow is not concerned about transforming the patriarchal societal standard, but instead promotes conformity. However, women differ in one vital way: The "ideal" man exercises a limited form of violence in order to achieve control, whereas the "ideal" woman apathetically looks on, thus exercising her own form of control in a situation she really has no choice in. Von Bülow's feminism, therefore, mirrors the problematic German imperialism of the time: Only those who possess control over others in society are able to advance.