Jenseits von Wilde Repräsentationen der Salome-Figur in Literatur und Theater des fin de siècle im deutschsprachigen Raum/Beyond Wilde Representations of Salome in fin-de-siècle German Literature and Theatre

  • Sina M Stuhlert

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Considered one of the most prominent representations of the femme fatale in fin-de-siècle Europe, the figure of Salome uniquely unites the confrontation of genders and religions: The Jewish temptress causes the death of the Christian prophet, John the Baptist. Due to the diversity of discourse and ambiguities in the German-language works about Salome from the fin de siècle, Salome must not only be read as a misogynous and anti-Semitic image but can also be interpreted as a critique of these constructions. Scholarly studies of the material have so far focused primarily on Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé (1893), emphasising its dominance at the end of the nineteenth century, including for the German-language context. In this dissertation, however, I apply a new frame with which to analyse Salome works that challenges the current scholarly status quo. The first aim of this thesis is to develop a new approach to the Salome figure based on Gender Studies. With the concept of intersectionality, we can recognise discriminatory but also affirmative tendencies in the works and the figure of Salome, which are lost if Salome is read only as femme fatale but not as a belle Juive, and thus in her double stigmatisation. Secondly, I trace the development of the Salome myth in the German-speaking world through ancient texts, the Bible, as well as through folklore. In so doing, I identify the formation of a Bible reception trajectory and a folklore reception trajectory. I then use this framework to analyse the works of the well-known authors Heinrich Heine and Oscar Wilde alongside the almost forgotten authors Emma Vely, Max Haushofer and Hermann Sudermann, combined with examining historical newspaper reviews and consulting the authors’ estates. In this way, this dissertation expands our knowledge of the German-language cultural context at the turn of the century; our understanding of the development of Salome; and the representation of femininity and Judaism in the Salome figure at a time when gender relations were undergoing unprecedented changes.
Date of Award15 Oct 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorRobert Vilain (Supervisor), Ricarda Schmidt (Supervisor) & Clare F I Siviter (Supervisor)

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