Aristokratische Schriftstellerinnen Österreichs und Deutschlands: Ein `Sonderweg` der Frauenemanzipation des 19. Jahrhunderts?

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This study focuses on a variety of texts by Austrian and German aristocratic women writers who are known for their high social status within their historical and political contexts. They are much less known, however, for their writings. My categories of investigation include social class and gender, with particular emphasis on emancipatory aspects of the life and works of these aristocratic women, as portrayed in a variety of literary and non-literary texts. Selected writings, such as Das poetische Tagebuch by Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1835-1898), Die Waffen nieder! by Baroness Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914) and Tropenkoller by Countess Frieda von Bülow (1847-1909) reveal that, despite groundbreaking achievements, these women were not affiliated with - or even interested in - the organized bourgeois women's movement. They simply led by example, widening the range of their personal space (quite literally as the geographic zone and allegorically as their own creation and development of `self') beyond the limits of "proper" femininity.

The methodological paradigms of Cultural Studies and Gender Studies form the basis of my analyses of these women's texts; additionally I am including theories of Postcolonial Studies in order to investigate the concepts of space', territory', oppression' and conquest', which defined the white upper-class woman as being colonized by her superiors in her own patriarchal setting. My dissertation is the first to establish a triangular relationship between the concepts of social class, gender and authorship in the lives of female aristocratic pioneers with the goal of contributing to the scholarship on women's literary history, which, thus far, has ignored the (her-)story of the female aristocrat in her struggle for recognition as a writer and her quest for personal freedom as an individual.