CfP: Depicting Gender Violence in the GDR/DDR (Event: 03/2017, Baltimore); DL: 30.09.2016

Northeast Modern Language Association Convention (NeMLA) (Web), Chair: Julie Shoults (Kutztown University)

Time: March 23-26, 2017
Venue: Baltimore MD
Proposals by September 30, 2016

Despite claims of egalitarianism, patriarchal structures remained firmly embedded in state and family structures of the German Democratic Republic (GDR/DDR). This rhetoric of gender equality in the GDR rendered gender-based violence a taboo topic. By shifting the blame to Western capitalism, alcoholism and a pathologized asocial marginalized group as the sources of domestic violence in particular, East German officials denied that these forms of violence were a broad societal issue in their socialist state, claiming that such violence was not consistent with the socialist personalities cultivated in East German society.

Feminist theorist bell hooks prefers the term „patriarchal violence,“ which she defines in Feminism is for Everybody (2000) as being „based on the belief that it is acceptable for a more powerful individual to control others through various forms of coercive force“ (61). Furthermore, she notes that the term „continually reminds the listener that violence in the home is connected to sexism and sexist thinking, to male domination“ (61-62). This distinction is appropriate for the context of the GDR, where patriarchal practices remained the norm and violence could be used to perpetuate these gendered hierarchical structures. Even while the state largely ignored the occurrence of gender-based violence, it was addressed by authors, artists and directors in cultural productions that emerged in the GDR. How was this violence depicted in these cultural productions? How were such cultural productions able to circumvent state censorship? In what ways did cultural productions bring awareness to this issue in the absence of a larger public discourse?

Submissions may address any medium of cultural production that appeared in the GDR, including literature, film, television, music, art and theater. Please submit a 250-300 word abstract through NeMLA’s website using the following link: The deadline for submissions is September 30, 2016. Please contact the chair Julie Shoults ( with questions or for further information.