The Idealised Mother and the Socialist Movement in Weimar Germany - POSTPONED TO 25 JUNE

The Idealised Mother and the Socialist Movement in Weimar Germany - POSTPONED TO 25 JUNE
2 April 2020, 12.00am - 1.30am
Room 243, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Speaker: Katherine E. Calvert (University of Sheffield)

Women’s choices about whether, when, and how to mother have long been contested in fierce political, religious, and ideological debates. This lecture analyses socialist women’s responses to, and shaping of, ideas about motherhood in Weimar Germany (1919-1933). By examining Frauenwelt, the women’s magazine of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) during the Weimar era, it will be shown that, despite campaigns to increase women’s access to birth control and provide better protections to single mothers, the left-wing women’s movement did little to challenge widely held essentialist ideas about women’s natural capacity for mothering. It will be contested that Frauenwelt’s promotion of normative ideas about women’s mothering not only reflected women’s continued acceptance of gendered divisions of labour, but also contributed to the perpetuation of such notions, and argued that, while socialist women of the post-World War I generation attempted to take greater ownership of their own mothering choices, the ideal of women’s mothering remained intact during this period, leaving supporters of the political left ill equipped to challenge effectively the rise of profoundly misogynistic policies on the far right in the late Weimar period.  

The Sylvia Naish Lectures were launched in memory of Sylvia Naish, an accomplished linguist, translator, Friend of Germanic Studies, and benefactor of the former Institute of Germanic Studies. The lecture is chosen by competition from among the proposals submitted by research students registered for higher degrees at Universities in the United Kingdom. 

All welcome. Please register in advance. 

This event is now postponed to 25 June 2020.


Jane Lewin
020 7862 8966