Call for papers for the Annual Convention of the

Northeast Modern Language Association (NEMLA)
March 2 to March 5, 2006

Panelists have to be members of NEMLA by November 30, 2005.

Male Friendship Between the Wars

With increasing scholarly interest in the history of male gender roles and the creation of modern masculinity, it has become clear that the beginning of the 20th century in Germany was a time of significant change not only in female but also in male gender roles. Traditional gender roles were increasingly questioned from the late 19th century to 1933, when the Nazis came to power. Numerous political and social developments had led to questions about the traditional division of labor and of the spheres of activity between the sexes, which had defined men as the main bread winners, protectors of home and family, and political and social actors, while their wives would take care of the home and the children. The women's emancipation movement, the emergence of the so-called "New Women", the experience of World War I, which differed significantly for men and women, and an increasingly public debate about homosexuality all contributed to a loss of self-confidence in many men. They saw their superior role in all areas of their lives - family, society, sexuality, politics, art, etc. - jeopardized.

This crisis in male identity led to various attempts to re-confirm traditional images of masculinity, and these responses ranged from outright misogyny, which often manifested itself as a (pseudo-)science that tried to prove different biological dispositions for men and women, to the foundation of so-called Männerbünde and, especially after World War I, a new appreciation for male comrade- and friendship. After the war, the glorification and romanticization of male friendship in the trenches became one way of counter-balancing the horrifying memories of the experience of the war. These male-male friendships and all-male groups whose declared goal was to strengthen a conventional image of man often had a homoerotic component to them that seemed to contradict their very aims.

Between World War I and II, many literary works reflected these developments, and thus became part of this re-negotiation of the male gender role. Authors depicted their male protagonists' friendships with other male characters as part of their search for a masculine identity in a world where the traditional gender matrix no longer worked, and  many of these authors were also very aware of the accusation of homoeroticism and dealt with it more or less openly. This call is inviting papers that investigate examples of male friendship in German literature between the First and the Second World War within the socio-historical context.

Please send 200-word abstracts and a brief cv to Esther Bauer at [log in to unmask], by September 22, 2005.

The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor:  Meghan McKinstry
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
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