The Feminist Encyclopedia of German Literature

By Friederike Eigler; Susanne Kord | Go to book overview

M

Mädchenliteratur. In its broadest definition, girls' literature comprises those works that are written for and/or read by girls, that is, female readers under the age of 20. Girls' literature, therefore, is intimately bound to the expectations of the adult authors about the young female.

Although some scholars have maintained that there was no girls' literature before the 18th century--based on the mistaken notion that the concept of childhood emerged in the Enlightenment--examples of German girls' literature from before 1700 abound, the first being a translation of Geoffrey de Latour Landry's Spiegel der Tugenden und Ersamkeit ( 1513). For the next two centuries, works primarily of a devotional nature (Erbauungsliteratur) were written to provide reading material for young females in the convents, the courts, and the homes of the higher bourgeoisie, that is, literacy clusters in what remained a largely illiterate population. Some of these works aim exclusively at a young female audience ( Conrad Porta's Jungfrawenspiegel, 1580, reprinted 1990); in others, girls are identified as one of several intended reading groups: "Frawen und Jungfrawen," "Knaben und Meidlein." This body of literature was intended to aid in a girl's upbringing at the most propitious time, namely, before puberty, and to help her become a good Christian and a good wife and mother. The preference for Erbauungsliteratur persisted until well into the 18th century, gradually moving away from explicitly religious advice toward moral lessons reflecting preferred burgher virtues, for example, Johann Heinrich Campe's Väterlicher Rath an meine Tochter ( 1789).

Although recommended for "matrons and maidens" by their authors, novels were not considered appropriate reading material for female readers in the 17thcentury

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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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