No Body? Radical Gender in Memoirs of a Man's Maiden Years (1907)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

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 antiSemitism 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 publicationInternationale Forschungen zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft
PublisherBrill: Rodopi
Pages225-247
Number of pages23
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameInternationale Forschungen zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft
Volume189
ISSN (Print)0929-6999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory

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