A regiment of women warriors strides across the battlefield of German culture - on the stage, in the opera house, on the page, and in paintings and prints. These warriors are re-imaginings by men of figures such as the Amazons, the Valkyries, and the biblical killer Judith. They are transgressive and therefore frightening figures who leave their proper female sphere and have to be made safe by being killed, deflowered, or both. This has produced some compelling works of Western culture - Cranach's and Klimt's paintings of Judith, Schiller's Joan of Arc, Hebbel's Judith, Wagner's Brunnhilde, Fritz Lang's Brunhild. Nowadays, representations of the woman warrior are used as a way of thinking about the woman terrorist. Women writers only engage with these imaginings at the end of the 19th century, but from the late 18th century on they begin to imagine fictional cross-dressers going to war in a realistic setting and thus think the unthinkable.
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Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly is Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford and Professor of German Literature, Oxford. Her publications include Triumphal Shews. Tournaments at German-Speaking Courts in their European Context 1560-1730 (1992), Court Culture in Dresden from Renaissance to Baroque (2002) and The Cambridge History of German Literature (1997), which she edited, and translations of Friedrich Schiller's On the Naive and Sentimental in Literature (1981) and Adalbert Stifter's Brigitta and Other Tales (1989 and 1994). From 2005-2008 she co-directed the AHRC Major Research Project Representations of Women and Death in German Literature, Art and Media 1500 to the present. She is editor of German Life and Letters, the foremost UK German studies journal, and of the German early modern journal Daphnis. Zeitschrift fur mittlere deutsche Kultur.
"Undoubtedly, Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly has performed a great service by launching this debate in such broad and yet detailed terms. Her book simulates and deserves to be widely red, its arguments further discussed." --Monatshefte
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