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"Performance, Fear, and the Female Body in Sophie Mereau-Brentano's "Die Flucht nach der Hauptstadt" (1806) and Elise Bürger's Die antike Statue aus Florenz (1814)."

Heilmann, Lena. "Performance, Fear, and the Female Body in Sophie Mereau-Brentano's "Die Flucht nach der Hauptstadt" (1806) and Elise Bürger's _Die antike Statue aus Florenz_ (1814)." Women in German Yearbook 29 (2013): 67-80.

In this article I consider two lesser-known texts written by women around 1800 that are concerned with issues of performance: Sophie Mereau’s short story “Flight to the City” (1990, “Die Flucht nach der Hauptstadt” [1806]) and Elise Bürger’s one-act play Die antike Statue aus Florenz (1814, The antique statue from Florence). The textual representation of fear, I argue, is a useful category of analysis through which to examine these works. In “Flight to the City,” the young female narrator repeatedly faces situations that cause her to feel afraid and she acts in response to her fear and anxiety, whereas in Die antike Statue, the married protagonist is afraid that she has lost her husband’s affection but wins back his love through a performance of her physical beauty. I identify specific moments of fear in each text and trace the motif of the “gaze” in order to tease out the connections between fear and performance. To this end, I argue that Mereau and Bürger employ performance (theater, as well as “performing” gender) so that their protagonists can regain lost agency.

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