The Feminist Encyclopedia of German Literature

By Friederike Eigler; Susanne Kord | Go to book overview

E

Earth Mother. The metaphor of the earth mother is related to the ancient identification of woman and nature. Western patriarchy takes this association to define women as being outside culture. In redefining their own cultural history, women attempt to overcome dualisms of nature and culture, reason and emotion, and so on. Containing religious, historical, cultural, and/or gendered relevance, the earth mother does not necessarily exist as a specific character in literature but may have characteristics that are associated with motherly, fertile, and nurturing women figures. Women's writing that thematizes the earth mother depicts women on either a spiritual and/or social quest of the self as woman and/or mother. The search for nonoppressive sexual relationships, new images of mothering, creative work, equality, and living in harmony with nature are common themes. Other figures loosely associated with the earth mother are Earth Goddess, Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Universal Mother, Great Goddess, Great Mother, and the White Woman.

The pregnancy and birthing aspect of motherhood and the constant birth-life- death cycle of the earth can be associated with artistic creativity and productivity of the artist. In the 19th century, women authors began to take issue with women's roles in patriarchy and the inherent conflict for women who considered themselves artists and writers. Karoline von Günderrode's collected poems Gedichte und Phantasien ( 1806) reflect her fascination with matriarchal societies and Utopian visions of harmony among her creative femininity, man, and nature. Franziska zu Reventlow lived a bohemian lifestyle that was seen as incompatible with her aristocratic upbringing. Her autobiographical Ellen Olestjerne ( 1903) thematizes motherhood and the sexual freedom of women.

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The Feminist Encyclopedia of German Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • A 1
  • B 37
  • C 61
  • D 83
  • E 105
  • F 139
  • G 195
  • H 229
  • I 253
  • J 263
  • K 271
  • L 275
  • M 293
  • N 345
  • O 375
  • P 383
  • Q 429
  • R 431
  • S 465
  • T 515
  • U 531
  • V 537
  • W 553
  • Y 579
  • Z 581
  • Appendix of Names 587
  • Index 637
  • Contributors 673
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