Academic journal article German Quarterly

Feminine Frequencies: Gender, German Radio, and the Public Sphere, 1923-1945

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Feminine Frequencies: Gender, German Radio, and the Public Sphere, 1923-1945

Article excerpt

Lacey, Kate. Feminine Frequencies: Gender, German Radio, and the Public Sphere, 1923-1945. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P 1996. 299 pp. $24.95.

Kate Lacey' s recent book, Feminine Frequencies, adds to the growing list of important studies examining the historic development of the public and private spheres. Her study also offers a substantial contribution to the history of radio and German cultural studies. Feminine Frequencies is an interdisciplinary history of women in broadcast radio in Weimar and Nazi Germany, drawing on historiography, but also media and cultural studies, feminist theory, and political philosophy Lacey's aims are twofold: she is interested in the history of women in radio, both as broadcasters and prospective listeners, and in the function of gender in contemporary discourses about radio. In conjunction with these concerns, Lacey examines the real and discursive redefinition of the private and public spheres that radio helped bring about. As she argues, there exists a dialectical relationship between gender politics and the development of radio, in which "gender ideology informs the definition and practice of broadcasting and [...] broadcasting becomes one of the cultural modes in which gender is produced, reproduced, and transformed" (11).

Feminine Frequencies is divided into three major sections. In part one, "German Radio and Gendered Discourses," Lacey outlines the development of radio policy, from the early commitment to non-political radio to the explicitly political radio of Nazi Germany. Lacey frames the contemporary social and political debates about radio as a response to the sense of crisis that marked the Weimar period.

In the second section of the book, "Feminine Frequencies," Lacey looks more closely at the history of women' s radio in Weimar and Nazi Germany and the many continuities that existed between the two periods. In her chapter on the Weimar years, Lacey traces the beginnings of regional and national broadcast, and concludes that, with some regional differences, all radio programs addressed women as housewives and mothers, and only occasionally as citizens, and in either case from a middle-class standpoint. Lacey makes apparent that this earlier model of the female listener as housewife and mother carried over easily into the National Socialist period, although the philosophical underpinnings of their policy differed. Under the National Socialists, radio policy no longer included the early pedagogical ideals found in Weimar. Instead, as Lacey argues, "women's radio had a structural function [...]. The space that women had carved out within the broadcast public sphere became exclusively devoted to reinforcing women's exclusion from the public sphere in a broader sense" (125). As Lacey points out, this "domestic" model of the female listener was maintained in radio through the war, despite the often blurred boundaries between the home front and front line.

In the last section of the book, "Experts on the Air," Lacey looks at the development of the "radio expert" and the role of consumerism in broadcasting. During the Weimar era Lacey sees the radio expert as masking the status quo of women's domestic work by recasting it as new and modern. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.