Published under the pseudonym N.O. Body, Aus eines Mannes Mädchenjahren (1907) is the autobiographical account of Martha or, as she was later called Karl, Baer. Born with ambiguous genitalia in 1885, Martha was raised as a girl. After experiencing masculinizing development during puberty, Martha consulted medical professionals, among them Berlin sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, and eventually decided to continue life as a man. Baer’s anxiety regarding his ambiguous body converged with the fear of anti-Semitism that he experienced as a Jew living in Imperial Germany. The popularity of Baer’s memoir indicates the curiosity about non-normative gender identities in the context of the two-sex model in the early twentieth century. Positioned at the intersection of literary and medical discourses about intersexuality—until recently called hermaphroditism—Baer’s case highlights the connections between constructivist and materialist accounts of the human body and the necessity of establishing a bridge between scientific research and humanistic inquiry.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Early History of Embodied Cognition 1740-1920
Subtitle of host publicationThe Lebenskraft-Debate and Radical Reality in German Science, Music, and Literature
EditorsJohn A McCarthy, Stephanie M Hilger, Heather I Sullivan, Nicholas Saul
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9789004309036
ISBN (Print)9789004309029
StatePublished - Jan 18 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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