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"...Dien und mein Gedaechtnis ein Weltall": A metahistorical avenue into Marie-Therese Kerschbaumer's literary world of women

William B Kirby, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation investigates Marie-Theresa Kerschbaumer's literary interest in women in historical (principally Austrian) context. It is at once artistic and political. Using some of the ideas from Hayden White's Metahistory as a springboard, I consider how Kerschbaumer conceptualizes women in a Metonymical mode, rather than, for instance, a Metaphorical one in her fiction. After this introduction, White's ideas on historical emplotment, argument and ideologicai implication shape my treatment of Kerschbaumer's major works (excluding Der Schwimmer). I show Kerschbaumer's Mechanistic argument of history in Schwestern (1982), where history is shown to be driven by economic laws. Unlike Karl Marx's more radical view, however, I see Kerschbaumer's ideological implication to be Liberal, because of the slower tempo of change that she envisions. I also discuss her Tragic Romance emplotment of history, where gender, racial, and class conflicts tragically temper an ultimately harmonious end. Der weibliche Name des Widerstands (1980) illustrates Kerschbaumer's Metonymical representation of women who resisted National Socialism. I analyze Kerschbaumer's Contextualist argument of history in Die Fremde (1992) and Ausfahrt (1994), where the various individual, unique experiences amalgamate to form the central character's history. Versuchung (1990) darkens the earlier Tragic Romance emplotment found in Schwestern to a Satire. In this autobiographical work, there is both personal and political despair. This metahistorical approach to Kerschbaumer's literary imagination concludes with an emphasis on the intersection of her art and politics, as it shines a light from the French writer, Helene Cixous, onto the material.

Subject Area

Germanic literature|European history|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Kirby, William B, ""...Dien und mein Gedaechtnis ein Weltall": A metahistorical avenue into Marie-Therese Kerschbaumer's literary world of women" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9909176.