Degree Name

BA

Department

Germanic and Slavic Languages

College

Humanities

Defense Date

2003

Publication Date

2003-11

First Faculty Advisor

Robert McFarland

Honors Coordinator

James E. Faulconer

Abstract

Bertha Pauli belongs to a class of writers (women) who are often overlooked, writing in a style (feuilleton) that is under-recognized for its literary value. Her writings have never been systematically analyzed before despite their volume and prominence in the Vienna of the 1920s. The first half of this thesis deals with the form of feuilleton, establishing a context in which to study Pauli’s works. The second half describes the political content of Pauli’s biographical feuilletons and demonstrates her skill as a persuasive writer. Feuilletons were a popular form of journalistic writing from the eighteenth century up until the Second World War. Scholars of Germanistik have traditionally neglected the study of feuilletons. This thesis argues that feuilletons can be quality literature, and that they give insight into the time in which they were written. Although most studies about Viennese feuilletons concentrate on the Fin de Siècle, feuilletons from the 1920s are important from a socio-political viewpoint. The 1920s was the only extended time period when writers could express their personal political views free of censorship. Most existing research also concentrates on male Feuilletonists who went on to become famous. However, if scholars do not study women writers in addition to men, they create a lopsided view of culture, indicating that only men were thinking. My thesis on Pauli expands the scholarship on feuilletons to include a woman’s perspective on the culture of the 1920s. Berta Pauli biographical feuilletons are significant both as reflections of women’s issues in Viennese culture during the 1920s and also as a contribution to the genre of feuilleton. Her feuilletons have both a feminist and a political subtext. Pauli’s feuilletons advance feminism in a time when the women’s movement had gone into dormancy. By expanding the traditional view of the historical women she wrote about, Pauli encouraged readers to reevaluate the role and worth of women in society. In addition, Pauli also implicitly argues for social democracy in Vienna by showing problems with the system of monarchy. Many women wrote feuilletons during the 1920s. Pauli’s are especially important to include in the canon of feuilletons because she was an excellent writer. This thesis shows that her writing meets the characteristics of good writing outlined by Jacqueline Berke in her book Twenty Questions for the Writer. In particular, Pauli used her skill as a persuasive writer to subtly influence her audience’s thinking about women at a time of widespread distrust of feminists.

Share

COinS