, Volume 94, Issue 2, pp 301-316
Date: 15 Oct 2009

Taming the Technological Shrew: Woman as Machine in Weimar Culture

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Abstract

European culture in the early twentieth century experienced two significant sites of transformation: newly emerging forms of technology and a new role for the emancipated woman. Amidst the social upheaval following WWI, these two sources of transformation were often met with cultural backlash that came in the form of conflating woman and machine. This article will study this conflation—the feminized machine and the mechanized woman—by drawing on various cultural works from Weimar Germany including writings from the Sex Reform movement, Siegfried Kracauer, and Ernst Jünger. Analysis of these works will inform a reading of Maria the robot in Lang’s film, Metropolis (1927) as a representative of the popular anxiety over new technologies and the “New Woman.”