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Girl, Interrupted and Continued

Rethinking the Influence of Elena Fortún's Celia

Ana Puchau de Lecea

In this article I consider the characterization of Celia, the protagonist in Elena Fortún’s “Celia and Her World” series (1929–1952), and the role of Fortún as a forerunner of women writers in the 1950s. I explore the ways in which Fortún presented herself as a female author offering alternative models of femininity to her readers through the character Celia and the social context of the series. In addition, I examine Fortún’s shifting representation of Celia as a subversive character, and Fortún’s ideological influence on female writers who used similar literary strategies. Using the point of view of the girl in her texts as an insurgent protagonist to reflect different sociohistorical moments in Spain suggests a continuity in Spanish narrative instead of an abrupt change after the Civil War.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Childless

The Politics of Female Identity in Maternité (1929) and La Maternelle (1933)

Cheryl A. Koos

This essay explores Jean Benoît-Lévy and Marie Epstein's box-office success La Maternelle and their lesser-known Maternité in the context of interwar debates over women's roles in society. Reflecting natalist-familialist conceptions of motherhood and femininity, the films magnified three pervasive cultural icons in French social and political discourse: the monstrous, childless "modern woman," the exalted mother, and the "single woman" who fell somewhere in the middle. As both products and vehicles of these tropes, La Maternelle and Maternité not only illustrate how popular cinema disseminated and justified certain value-laden assumptions about female identity in the late 1920s and early 1930s; they also reveal the limitations of French feminism and socially-engaged, progressive art of the period.

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Katie Sutton

Commentators in the popular media of Weimar Germany paid great attention to questions of women's sport, athleticism, and physicality. Their concerns were not restricted to women's reproductive capacities—rather, women's physical emancipation was increasingly interpreted within the framework of larger cultural discourses surrounding the "masculinization" and political emancipation of the modern woman. This article examines such representations of the "masculinized" female athlete, arguing that female athleticism provided an important focus for broader concerns about changing gender relations, female sexuality, and acceptable female life trajectories at this period. Although the perceived threat to traditional male dominance symbolized by the female athlete prompted some commentators to denounce women's physical activity and emphasize traditional gender roles, the article also examines less conventional contemporary responses to women's athleticism, in particular, how a female body "steeled by sport" was reclaimed as an aesthetic ideal within the female homosexual subculture of interwar Berlin.