Exotik, Erotik und Haremkultur: Zur Gender-Problematik im deutschen Orientalismus des 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhunderts

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Arabian nights, oriental women, the harem, exoticism, and eroticism: what else comes to mind when thinking of the colorful world of the Orient? In order to challenge these Western stereotypes, which have been abundant since the Middle Ages and reflect only a few of the many prejudices contained in the Western understanding of "Orientalism" , my study examines cultural representations of oriental, African and occidental women in literary texts by nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German and Austrian writers (Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Ida Hahn-Hahn, Peter Altenberg, Else Lasker-Schüler) as well as in the visual arts. Stereotypical images of oriental women are based on assumptions and claims made by eighteenth-century Western philosophers and travellers (e.g. Kant, Herder, Forster), creating misinterpretations of the Orient which appeared to be the perfect place to act out "male" fantasies. While using cultural studies approaches including oriental, post-colonial, and gender studies, this dissertation establishes a new theoretical framework on Gender and Orientalism, and aims to contribute significantly to a new understanding of the Orientalism debate within the German and European contexts. An in-depth discussion of the "harem" as cultural text and multifaceted metaphor discloses this realm as a space for cross-cultural female encounter where hybrid identity formations of culturally diverse women arise.