Flanerie is the art of taking a walk, leisurely observing the movements and spaces of the city. By writing about cityscapes, urban realms, and the condition of society, flaneurs are able to describe the uniqueness of the metropolis and give life to the modern city—creating a photograph of an urban setting. In the early nineteenth century, and even today, flaneur literature has been ultimately dominated by men who have documented their cultural and aesthetic interactions with the city. During these times, unwritten rules have often excluded the female from participating in parts of the urban society. Today, these unwritten rules are still apparent as many park signs warn us to stay out of secluded areas after dark—implying the possibility of danger for women, but no necessarily for men. The controversy over the existence of the flaneuse or female flaneur has been the corner stone of many recent debates as a large body of scholarship has claimed that women have had no part in the art of flanerie. The questions still remain: was it possible for women to promenade in the streets of a male-dominated society and is it possible that female flaneur literature even exists? My answer to these questions is yes. Although the public sphere was dominated by the male figure as they confined women to the private realm of the home, there were notable women who proved to be exceptions to these rules. Recently, scholars have uncovered an array of female authors that have written in the art of flanerie. Irmgard Keun was one of the prominent exceptions who wrote many texts that are potentially important as cultural and historical documents of the time period in which she lived. In this thesis, I will investigate Keun's first two novels, Gilig—eine von uns and Das kunstseidene Madchen, as well as a few of her lesser known feuilletons that have scarcely been observed or considered as essential links to the rare works of the female flaneur. I will first discuss the problems of the flaneuse—being subjected to gender-stratified societies, being seen as a prostitute, and being confined to the private realm of the home. I will then argue several aspects of Keun's novels and feuilletons that are necessary to understand the practices of the modern flaneur and, more importantly, to liberate the controversial figure of the flaneuse.
College and Department
Humanities; Germanic and Slavic Languages
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Embley, Matthew D., "Irgendwo muss man doch einmal hingehoeren': Irmgard Keun as Heiress to the Flaneur."" (2006). Theses and Dissertations. 380.
flaneur, flaneuse, Irmgard Keun, flanerie, Berlin, city, German