The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts

Between Rebellion and Crisis: 1920s Berlin and the Modern Woman


October 17, 2019 at 4:00 p.m.

This talk is part of the 2019 Fall Museum Lecture Series, generously supported by the Sam and Belle S. Deutsch Endowment.

The modern woman stepped onto the stage of 1920s Berlin and became an icon of modernity.

She graced the streets of the metropolis, participated in the workforce outside of the home in unprecedented numbers, went to the movies, sat in cafés or went to dance halls. She was viewed as modern precisely because of her modern attitude, newly-acquired range of motion and her new look – short hair cut or Bubikopf, athletic body and short hemlines. Historically, she may have been a secretary, receptionist or typist, or among more visible boundary-breaking women like avant-garde artist Hannah Höch, photographer Germaine Krull, film star Marlene Dietrich or Bauhaus designer Marianne Brandt. As a figure in representation, the modern woman made her appearance in films, advertisements and art.

This talk by Head of German Studies Barbara Kosta explores the emergence of the modern woman in a time of political and social upheaval, of dramatic urban development, technological advancements and cultural innovation that turned Berlin into a laboratory of modernity and one of the most interesting cities in Europe. It is presented in conjunction with the exhibition A New Unity: The Life and Afterlife of Bauhaus.

About the Presenter:

Dr. Kosta is professor and head of the Department of German Studies at the University of Arizona. She is also an affiliated member of Gender and Women Studies and Film and Television. Kosta’s research concentrates on gender and sexuality in twentieth-century and contemporary German and Austrian literature, culture and film. She has published numerous articles on contemporary German film and literature, on Austrian literature, as well as on literature, film and visual culture of the Weimar Republic that focuses on the modern woman.