Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Discourses of crisis in West German texts and films of the 1970s: A transnational psychogeography of gender, race and violence

Maria Stehle, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This cultural history uses the glaring spatial divides within Germany in the 1970s, the Berlin Wall and the German-German border, to analyze discourses of crisis that manifest themselves around issues of space, divisions, walls, and borders. The perspective of a "transnational feminist psychogeographer" borrows from German and cultural studies, transnational feminist theory, and postcolonial critiques to allow for a reading of cultural contradictions without reducing them to either/or positions. Discussing changes in Cold War politics that characterize the 1970s in terms of a shift to postmodernity, post-Fordism, or a new stage in capitalist globalization, chapter one develops a theoretical framework for examining how 'globalized' borders appear as both permeable and permanent, fostering contradictory discourses of security and confinement. Rather than suggesting that the specific fears produced around global issues like the oil crisis and the Vietnam War vanished by the end of the 1970s, chapter two argues that the production of fear is part of a permanent, racialized, gendered, as well as specifically Western, state of emergency. Chapter three and four reread discourses of national crisis around immigration and terrorism. The mechanisms and strategies of Othering implied in these texts promote a contradictory sense of global alliances and national identity while simultaneously fostering the militarization of the borders of the nation state. Chapters five and six examine the politics of discourses of gender crises in texts and films of the New Subjectivity and in feminist texts in the 1970s. The perspective of a "transnational psychogeographer" allows me to contextualize feminisms and the crisis of the male subject within changing interpretations of gender, nation, and the West. The conclusion contends that we should rethink our understating of the 1970s as a decade between the social change of the 1960s and the conservative backlash of the 1980s to accommodate contradictory political discourses defining a divided Germany in a global context by means of creating a 'permanent state of emergency.'

Subject Area

Germanic literature|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Stehle, Maria, "Discourses of crisis in West German texts and films of the 1970s: A transnational psychogeography of gender, race and violence" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3193943.