Date of Award

5-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

History

Major Professor

Monica Black

Committee Members

Denise Phillips, Lynn Sacco

Abstract

The following study inquires into the emergence and development of a positive, nonnormative homosexual identity in German social discourses regarding androgyny and same-sex desire during the Wilhelmine period. Literary works, medical journals, homosexual journals, and visual art in the late-nineteenth century reflect a growing interest in androgynous bodies throughout Germany’s developing homosexual community. Such primary media provide the evidence for this study. Of particular interest are the works and theories of homosexuals themselves with an emphasis on their organizational journals (such as The Own and The Annual Book of Intermediate Sexualities) and photographs. This project examines the dissemination and reception of images of androgyny that were included in these various works by Germany’s homosexual community—indeed, how homosexuals themselves responded to a subversive project of normality. Ultimately, their response is the foundation of the main argument of the essay. Homosexuals in Germany at the fin de siècle fashioned a new, self-affirming aesthetic with androgyny at its core. I maintain that the media of photography, literature, and popular journals disseminated this aesthetic among those who sought to define themselves simultaneously outside normative gender roles and in a positive manner.

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