Gender, queer imagery and queer visibility in the German Democratic Republic
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In this thesis, I explore the concept of queer visibility in the German Democratic Republic. I analyse a broad selection of literary and film texts, to ascertain how sexual and gender identities were conceptualised in the GDR. I apply key principles from queer theory, to gain an understanding of lived experience of queer people in the GDR. The chapters are divided thematically, including gender, social control, reproductive futurity, representation, and normativity. In Chapter One, I discuss gender roles and gendered imagery in the film, Alle meine Mädchen (1981); a collection of archive materials, and the short story by Detlef Opitz in 1990, 'LUST/IG. eine landschaft'. I show that the understanding of gender in the GDR was flexible; in the broadest sense, gender non-conformity includes many lesbians and gay men in its definition, positioning them on a spectrum between conventional gender roles. In Chapter Two, the discussion progresses to investigate the role of the family and the concepts of futurity. I come to understand futurity not as a unified influence, but as multiple forms of futurity, including socialist and alternative queer forms of futurity. Family structure leads to a wider discussion of social norms in Chapter Three where I position queer visibility as something to which individuals might strive but simultaneously as a quotidian, non-institutional form of surveillance. In Chapter Four, I engage with the question of representation and its differentiation from visibility. Often, representation leads to generalisation, tending towards greater normativity for queer representations, to avoid offending the sensibilities of cisheteronormative society. However, many queer sources were radical in their respective contexts and accepted by the queer community in the GDR. I make a significant contribution to the field of GDR studies, by bringing to light texts and other source material, the queer elements of which have previously been overlooked.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationalhttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/
Embargo Date: 2027-05-06
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Restricted until 6th May 2027
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