Promotionsprogramm "Transformationsprozesse in Europäischen Gesellschaften"

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Elena Zendler, M.A.

1st Year


Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich
Institute for European Ethnology and Cultural Analysis, Oettingen Straße 67,
80538 Munich

Further Information

Dissertation project

"Forgotten Women Writers and Activists around 1900 in the Context of the Munich Association for Women's Interests: Biographical Reconstructions of their Life Designs, Network Activities, Struggles, and Precarisations“

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Munich was considered a City of Art and the centre of the First Women's Movement. Therefore, numerous young women were drawn to the city in search of a life free of conservative restrictions. Of great importance for the Bourgeois Women's Movement was the Association for Women's Interests (Verein für Fraueninteressen), which was founded in 1894 and still exists today. Numerous female writers or painters were also involved in this association, therefore it was closely networked with the Munich Modern Movement (ca. 1890–1914).

Women living in Munich around 1900, who were involved in the Women's Movement and / or pursued unconventional lifestyles as artists, often faced uncertainties and precarious living conditions. For example, due to their divergent lifestyles, they experienced ruptures with their families, while a self-determined love life and children born out of wedlock led to increasing marginalization by bourgeois society. In order to make the individual biographies of some women more visible, even into their later years, the dissertation project aims to provide insights into the living realities of several female writers and activists who lived in Munich in the years around 1900, had ties to the Association for Women's Interests, and have been largely overlooked by research in recent decades. So far selected for the sample are the writers Helene Böhlau, Cary Brachvogel, Regina Ullmann and Ellen Delp.

The historical-archival, biographical dissertation project which highlights concepts of precarisation research and gender studies, will focus on the questions of which individual or social struggles and experiences the protagonists had to face due to their gender and their way of life, which networks helped them, and which similarities or differences can be identified in their living realities. In particular, potentially precarious life situations – also in connection with ageing – are analysed and regarded individually. The main focus of the research project is the examination of the women's estates in various archives. Another scientific method is to conduct interviews with experts, for example with exhibition curators, in order to learn more about the previous representations of the women being researched.


Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Irene Götz