Sprach- und literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für deutsche Literatur

Jewish Homosexual Modernism in the German Speaking World and in Mandatory Palestine/Israel

Jewish Homosexual Modernism in the German Speaking World and in Mandatory Palestine/Israel


The project is a cooperation between Humboldt-University and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It is funded by Einstein Foundation Berlin from January 2020 to December 2022.

The project puts forward the thesis that between 1890 and 1945 a corpus of literary texts – a “Jewish Homosexual Modernism” – came into being in the German cultural sphere. This canon of literature comprises German and Hebrew and Yiddish texts that deal with both Jewishness and homosexuality and their entanglements.

Jewish and anti-Semitic as well as homosexual and homophobic discourses of the late 19th and early 20th century have already been examined by several researchers. Our research project focuses on the interconnections and overlaps of these discourses. At the beginning of the 20th century, the notion of Jewishness includes religious, ethnic and cultural definitions that were elaborated by self-identifying Jew, gentiles and anti-Semites. Similarly, the notion of homosexuality contains emancipatory and homophobic, sexologist, cultural and gender-specific definitions. These conceptualizations converge and shape each other in the literary texts of Jewish homosexual modernism.  Aesthetic concepts of center and periphery, territorialization and deterritorailization, home and exile, secrecy and disclosure, as well as visibility and invisibility will be guidelines of our analysis.

The Berlin sub-project will examine mainly two bodies of texts: On the one hand, fictional works of canonized authors like Else Lasker-Schüler and Thomas Mann will be analyzed.  On the other hand, our research will focus journals and magazines that were published between 1890 and 1945 in Berlin. We will search lesbian and gay journals for Jewish references and, in turn, Jewish journals and magazines for homosexual/homoerotic content. An emphasis will be placed on the mediality of journal literature, taking into account its conditions of production, distribution and reception. This twofold research approach will enable us not only to unearth the literary canon of Jewish homosexual modernism but to identify interconnections with already well-established canons of literature.



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