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Title:Love in the big city: Intimacy, marriage, and risk in turn-of-the-century Berlin
Author(s):Carrington, Tyler
Director of Research:Fritzsche, Peter A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fritzsche, Peter A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Liebersohn, Harry; Micale, Mark S.; Steinberg, Mark D.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Abstract:This dissertation examines the surprising push and pull between tradition and modernity that occurred when men and women living in Europe’s fastest growing city fought off isolation and attempted to find love using self-consciously modern mindsets and technologies. Whether it was the decision to approach a stranger on the streetcar, go dancing with a co-worker, look for a mate in one of the city’s many gay bars, post a newspaper personal ad, or eschew the institution of marriage altogether and opt for a free love union, Berliners of all stripes left the shores of tradition and ventured into the choppy waters of a more individualized kind of love. And while there was much to be gained (as they describe in diaries, short stories, penny novels, and lively newspaper debates), the decision to break with the way “grandfather took grandmother” was risky, not least because these maverick Berliners were testing the boundaries of both middle- class respectability and hegemonic masculinity and femininity. In exploring Berliners’ narratives about their love lives, their metropolis, and their status as men and women, this dissertation argues that, even in a city whose most celebrated trait was its newness, traditional respectability proved remarkably robust. It reveals how Berlin – ostensibly Europe’s most liberating city at the turn of the century – was not primarily a space of sexual anonymity and romantic freedom but rather the site of immense friction between modern individualism and traditional virtue. Dissecting the way Berliners found love in the big city thus demonstrates that both modern cities and fin de siècle gender and civic identities were rooted as much in a world that was quickly fading as they were in one that was rapidly cresting the horizon.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Tyler Carrington
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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