The Center for Research on Women and Social Justice    Eileen Boris, Director    Department of Feminist Studies
University of California    Santa Barbara, CA 93106    Tel 805.893.8444, line 2    Fax 805.893.8676

Timothy Pursell
UCSB, October 1, 2004

Timothy Pursell
Timothy Pursell
Queer Eyes and Straight Guys: Homophobia and Homoeroticism in Early Twentieth Century German Art

12 noon, HSSB 4020

Germany's pioneering status in the homosexual emancipation movement and sexological research is well-known. Less well-known is the fact that the German homosexual community was deeply divided between supporters of ideas of homosexuality as a third sex and ideas of homosexuality as a kind of perfected masculinity, especially the nudist culture supported by Adolf Brand. My paper places this debate in the context of discourses on homophobic depictions of masculinity in Richard Wagner's aesthetic and artistic works, in the drawing of the popular artist Fidus, and in the sculpture and painting endorsed by the National Socialist state as officially German. All of these works were pointed criticisms of the kind of "third sex" understanding of male homosexuality as a feminized, weakened sexuality. The ideals of masculinity embraced by Wagner, celebrated by Fidus and endorsed by the Nazis went hand-in-glove with Brand's celebration of athletic masculinity. I argue that far from being scared into heterosexuality by such images, Brand and men like him eroticized these homophobic images and viewed them as desirable objects rather icons of homophobia.

Co-sponsored with Women's Studies; History; German, Slavic, and Semitic Studies; and Art History.

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