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Maternal drag: Identity, motherhood, and performativity in the works of Julia Franck

Alexandra Merley Hill, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation, the first book-length investigation of the works of Julia Franck, investigates representations of the mother-daughter relationship in Franck’s five major texts: Der neue Koch (1997), Liebediener (1999), Bauchlandung: Geschichten zum Anfassen (2000), Lagerfeuer (2003), and Die Mittagsfrau (2007). Specifically, it examines the roles of “daughter” and “mother” as social constructs, which are open to resignification and reinvestigation. In the introduction, I outline the trajectory of Franck’s career, focusing particularly on her relationship with feminist scholarship and her persona as a representative of feminism in the German media. In chapter 1, I begin with Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity and look for examples of performative identity in Franck’s works of fiction. I further destabilize identity in chapter 2 by demonstrating how identity is contingent on space, drawing on Marc Augé’s theory of “places” and “non-places.” In chapter 3, I demonstrate how psychoanalysis, as the primary theoretical lens through which the mother-daughter relationship has been viewed, conflicts with destabilized gender binaries, as laid out in chapter 1. Consequently, I argue, the psychoanalytic models of attachment and identity are not relevant to an investigation of the mothers and daughters in Franck’s works. I explain my theory of “maternal drag” in chapter 4. I argue that the mother figures in Franck’s novels exhibit a performative maternal identity, specifically one that so conflicts with expectations of the maternal that it calls into question those very expectations. Finally, in the conclusion, I consider the wider implications of my theory, particularly in light of the media discussions in Germany surrounding feminism, motherhood, and the decline in birth-rate.

Subject Area

Germanic literature|Womens studies|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Hill, Alexandra Merley, "Maternal drag: Identity, motherhood, and performativity in the works of Julia Franck" (2009). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3359140.