Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Ger Life Lett. 2012;65(1):20-35.

The acceleration of the masculine in early-twentieth-century Berlin.

Abstract

In early-twentieth-century Berlin, agents of speed and industrialisation, such as the railway, contributed to the seemingly unbridled velocity of urban life. Doctors and cultural critics took an ambivalent stance toward the impact of speed and technology on the human body. Critics argued that these factors, in conjunction with sexual excess and prostitution, accelerated the sexual maturation of young men, thereby endangering ‘healthy’ male sexuality. This comparison of Hans Ostwald's socio-literary study Dunkle Winkel in Berlin (1904) with Georg Buschan's sexual education primer Vom Jüngling zum Mann (1911) queries the extent to which speed shaped the understanding of ‘the masculine’ in pre-World-War-I Germany. The essay thus examines Ostwald's and Buschan's arguments and postulates that speed in the city (Berlin) can be seen as a feminised, sexualised force that determined sex in the city. According to this reading, the homosexual urban dandy resisted the accelerated modernist urban tempo, whereas the heterosexual man and hegemonic, heteronormative masculinity yielded to speed. ‘“Das Verhältnis”’ became a fleeting, momentary alternative to stable marital relationships, which in turn contributed to the general ‘crisis’ of – and in– masculinity in early-twentieth-century Berlin.

PMID:
22375297
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center