1 Touch yourself, touch me, you’ll ‘see’1: exploring contact and intersubjectivity in Leontine Sagan’s ‘Mädchen in Uniform’ (1931) Jasmine Maggiori Unit: Languages, Literatures and Cultures- German Studies McGill University, Montreal August 2013 A thesis submitted to McGill University in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Arts © Jasmine Maggiori 2013 1 Irigaray, Luce and Burke, Carolyn. “When Our Lips Speak Together.” Signs 6.1 (Part 2 Autumn 1980), 78. 2 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to express my gratitude to my program supervisor, Dr. Michael Cowan, for all of his guidance and support. I would also like to thank my parents, Tricia and Jerry, and my sister, Catherine, for their patience, in addition to Léa Charbonnier, Louis Fortier, Flóra Horváth, Tom Große, and Bonnie Stanway for their endless support, encouragement, and invaluable assistance throughout the research, editing, and writing process of my thesis. 3 TABLE OF CONTENTS TITLE PAGE ....................................................................................................................................1 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................................2 TABLE OF CONTENTS ..................................................................................................................3 ABSTRACT ......................................................................................................................................4 ABRÉGÉ ...........................................................................................................................................5 LIST OF FIGURES ...........................................................................................................................6 INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................................8 CHAPTER 1: HAPTIC CONVEYANCES- THE BODY 1.1 INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER 1 ......................................................................... 15 1.2 THE OPENING SCENE ............................................................................................ 19 1.3 THE BEDTIME SCENE ........................................................................................... 32 1.4 CONCLUSION TO CHAPTER 1 ............................................................................. 43 CHAPTER 2: ESTABLISHING AN AFFINITY- THE FACE 2.1 INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER 2 .......................................................................... 45 2.2 THE CLASSROOM SCENE AND THE RESCUE SCENE ...................................... 46 2.3 THE FACIAL SUPERIMPOSTIONS ........................................................................ 57 2.4 CONCLUSION TO CHAPTER 2............................................................................... 80 CHAPTER 3: RECIPROCITY AND LIMINALITY- THREATENING AUTHORITARIANISM 3.1 INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER 3 .......................................................................... 82 3.2 THE GIFT SCENE AND THE DECLARATION SCENE......................................... 84 3.3 PASSIONATE RECIPROCITY AND LIMINALITY................................................ 93 3.4 CONCLUSION TO CHAPTER 3 ............................................................................. 112 CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................................. 114 LIST OF REFERENCES .............................................................................................................. 118 4 ABSTRACT Through a series of close readings, this thesis examines the role played by intersubjectivity and contact in Leontine Sagan’s Mädchen in Uniform (1931). The goal of this discussion is to demonstrate this film’s rejection of hierarchal relationships in favour of dynamic affinities between desiring subjects. Using theories of haptic cinema, the first chapter conveys the possibility of ontological dynamism between otherwise separate entities via tactile corporeal encounters. The second chapter analyzes the cinematic facial superimposition, which codifies the face as a revelatory site upon which the interiority of a subject’s mind (soul) can be observed. By demonstrating an affinity between mind (soul) and body, the face can be understood as anti-dualistic and, by extension, anti-hierarchal. Then, finally, the third chapter examines the breaking-down of the authoritarianism central to the film’s narrative by exploring the power of expressing reciprocal desire and affinity in providing a structural critique. 5 ABRÉGÉ Ce mémoire examine le rôle que jouent l’intersubjectivité et le contact dans le film de Leontine Sagan Mädchen in Uniform (1931). Le but de cette discussion est de démontrer que dans le film se révèle le rejet de relations hiérarchiques en faveur d’affinités dynamiques. En s’appuyant sur les théories du cinéma haptique, le premier chapitre traite de la possibilité d’un dynamisme ontologique entre des entités, d’autre part séparées, au travers de rencontres corporelles. Le deuxième chapitre se consacre à l’analyse de la superposition faciale cinématographique qui codifie le visage en tant que site révélateur à travers duquel on peut observer « l’interiorité » de l’esprit (âme) d’un sujet. En démontrant une affinité entre l’esprit (l’âme) et le corps, le visage peut être compris comme antidualiste et par conséquent antihiérarchique. Enfin, le troisième chapitre examine l’effondrement de l'autoritarisme qui joue un rôle essentiel dans la trame narratrice du film, en explorant la puissance de l’expression d’un désir ou d’une affinité réciproque en fournissant une critique structurale. 6 LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1.1. Statue of Soldier Wearing Armour................................................................................ 21 Figure 1.2. Large Columns .............................................................................................................. 21 Figure 1.3. Soldiers Wrestling in Pairs ........................................................................................... 22 Figure 1.4. Soldier Holding Large Gun ......................................................................................... 23 Figure 1.5. First Image of Girls ...................................................................................................... 26 Figure 1.6.Ilse Warns Manuela ...................................................................................................... 33 Figure 1.7. Manuela Rises to Kneel ............................................................................................... 37 Figure 1.8. The Girls Kneel ............................................................................................................ 37 Figure 1.9. Manuela and Bernburg Gaze at One Another .............................................................. 38 Figure 1.10. Manuela Embraces Bernburg before the Kiss ............................................................ 39 Figure 1.11. Close-up of the Kiss ................................................................................................... 39 Figure 1.12. Medium-shot of the Kiss ............................................................................................ 40 Figure 1.13. Manuela Looks Into the Camera ................................................................................ 43 Figure 2.1.Edelgard Speaking ........................................................................................................ 47 Figure 2.2. Bernburg’s Face in Medium Close-up ......................................................................... 48 Figure 2.3. Manuela’s Face in Extreme Close-up .......................................................................... 49 Figure 2.4. Manuela’s Face Superimposed Over Bernburg’s ......................................................... 50 Figure 2.5. Second Extreme Close-up of Manuela’s Face .............................................................. 51 Figure 2.6. Bernburg Looks Nervous ............................................................................................. 52 Figure 2.7. Bernburg Faces the Headmistress ................................................................................ 53 Figure 2.8. Bernburg’s Emotional Disturbance .............................................................................. 55 Figure 2.9. Final Close-up of Manuela’s Face ............................................................................... 56 Figure 2.10. Second Image of Manuela and Bernburg’s Superimposed Faces .............................. 57 Figure 2.11.Ilse’s Shrine ................................................................................................................. 63 Figure 2.12. Girls Looking at a Magazine ...................................................................................... 64 Figure 2.13. Image of Man Assaulting his Wife ............................................................................. 66 Figure 2.14. ‘Masculine’ Woman ................................................................................................... 70 Figure 2.15. Intersex Individual ..................................................................................................... 71 Figure 2.16. Queer Gathering ......................................................................................................... 72 Figure 3.1. Manuela Stands Near the Staircase .............................................................................. 85 Figure 3.2. Bernburg Smirks .......................................................................................................... 87 Figure 3.3. Manuela Embraces Bernburg Holding the Chemise .................................................... 87 Figure 3.4. Manuela Weeps ............................................................................................................ 88 Figure 3.5. Bernburg Teary-Eyed ................................................................................................... 89 Figure 3.6. Bernburg Smiling as Manuela Exits ............................................................................. 89 Figure 3.7. Manuela Leaving with her Gift .................................................................................... 90 7 Figure 3.8. Manuela Recites Her Lines .......................................................................................... 91 Figure 3.9. Bernburg’s Initials ........................................................................................................ 92 Figure 3.10. Manuela Defiant ......................................................................................................... 92 Figure 3.11.Ilse’s Toast .................................................................................................................. 95 Figure 3.12.Ilse Mocks Fräulein von Kesten .................................................................................. 96 Figure 3.13. Bernburg and Manuela laugh Together .................................................................... 102 Figure 3.14. Bernburg in the Audience ........................................................................................ 107 Figure 3.15.Ilse describes Bernburg’s Reaction ........................................................................... 107 Figure 3.16. The Defeated Headmistress ...................................................................................... 112 8 Touch yourself, touch me, you’ll ‘see’2: exploring contact and intersubjectivity in Leontine Sagan’s ‘Mädchen in Uniform’ (1931) Introduction This thesis examines the central role played by suggestions and representations of contact and intersubjectivity in Leontine Sagan’s 1931 film Mädchen in Uniform.3 It consists of three chapters, all of which perform a closereading of two scenes. Overall, the goal of my discussion is to demonstrate this film’s rejection of hierarchal or dichotomous relationships, whether literal or abstract, in favour and by virtue of dynamic affinities between desiring subjectivities. It is the specifically reciprocal love valorized in Mädchen in Uniform that serves to criticize, and ultimately dismantle, the authoritarian structure of the boarding school in which its plot unfolds. As I will show, Mädchen in Uniform is deeply concerned with tactility, or suggestions thereof, in the establishment of non-dichotomous and loving interconnectivities between women. Consequently, my focus will rest primarily, but not exclusively, on the love story depicted between the two main characters in Mädchen in Uniform, Manuela von Meinhardis and, her teacher, Fräulein Elisabeth von Bernburg.4 My emphasis on reciprocal love and tactility in Mädchen in Uniform is reflected in the title of my thesis, which is a quote taken from Luce Irigaray and Caroline Burke’s phenomenological and feminist essay entitled “When Our Lips Speak Together.”5 The citation refers to Irigaray and Burke’s notion that, via erotic contact, the ontological positions of Self and Other are temporarily suspended in favour of a dynamic interactivity. In their essay, Irigaray and Burke engage in a discussion of feminine-centred eroticism, which they describe as a non-dichotomous, non-hierarchal, and loving encounter. Thus, this encounter is 2 Irigaray, Luce and Burke, Carolyn. “When Our Lips Speak Together.” Signs 6.1 (Part 2 Autumn 1980), 78. 3 Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche Film-Gemeinschaft, 1931. DVD, 2010. 4 For the sake of organization, Manuela von Meinhardis and Fräulein Elisabeth von Bernburg will generally be referred to as “Manuela” and “Bernburg,” respectively. 5 Irigaray, Luce and Burke, Carolyn. “When Our Lips Speak Together.” Signs 6.1 (Part 2 Autumn 1980). 9 characterized as dynamic, and thus understood as an alternative to the strict hierarchal and dichotomous paradigms of male/female, subject/object, and Self/Other. In coming together in an affinity, eroticism or love between feminine subjectivities disrupts the traditional ontological divide between ‘I’ (Self) and ‘You’ (Other): “when you say I love you…you also say I love myself…when you touch yourself, when you touch me: you touch yourself through me…This currency of alternatives and oppositions, choices and negotiations, has no value for us.”6 Thus, inspired by Irigaray and Burke, loving, dynamic, and reciprocal encounters between feminine subjectivities are essential to my understanding of Mädchen in Uniform. Adapted from the stage play Gestern und Heute (Ritter Neréstan)7 by writer Christa Winsloe and directed by Leontine Sagan, Mädchen in Uniform was one of Germany’s earliest sound films, produced and released at the end of the Weimar Republic.8 Extraordinarily, not only was this film directed by and its story conceived of by a woman, the cast of Mädchen in Uniform is entirely female and largely features unprofessional actresses. Debuting in 1931, Mädchen in Uniform proved to be a national and international success, and was screened worldwide.9 The narrative of Mädchen in Uniform centres on fourteen-year-old Manuela von Meinhardis (Hertha Thiele), who is sent by her aunt to an all-girls Prussian boarding school in Potsdam after her mother’s death. The girls at the 6 Please note that all citations are followed in accordance to MLA standard citation practices as outlined by Charles Lipson in his book Lipson, Charles. Doing Honest Work in College: How to Prepare Citations, Avoid Plagiarism, and Achieve Real Academic Success (Second Edition). Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2008. For quote: Irigaray, Luce and Burke, Carolyn. “When Our Lips Speak Together.” Signs 6.1 (Part 2 Autumn 1980), 1980, 70. 7 Yesterday and Today (The Knight Neréstan) was written by Winsloe in 1930, premiering in Leipzig; in 1931, it was shown in Berlin, and made into the film Mädchen in Uniform. In 1933, while in exile in Amsterdam, Winsloe penned a novel based on the film, Das Mädchen Manuela. Amrain, Susanne. “Christa Winsloe: Die behrühmte Unbekannte.” In Winsloe, Christa. Mädchen in Unform. Göttingen: Daphne, 1999, 275, 276. For more detailed information on Winsloe please see Hermanns, Doris. Meerkatzen, Meißel und das Mädchen Manuela: Die Schriftstellerin und Tierbildhauerin Christa Winsloe. Berlin: AvivA Verlag, 2013. 8 Rich, Ruby B. “From Oppressive Tolerance to Erotic Liberation: Maedchen in Uniform.” In Rich, Ruby B. Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1998, 180, and Sutton, Katie. The Masculine Woman in Weimar Germany. New York: Berghahn Books, 2011, 142. 9 Amrain, Susanne. “Christa Winsloe: Die behrühmte Unbekannte.” In Winsloe, Christa. Mädchen in Unform. Göttingen: Daphne, 1999, 275, 276. 10 school are denied physical and emotional nourishment, and are subjected to the strict authoritarian rule of the school’s unyielding Headmistress (Emilia Unda) and her unlikeable second-in-command, Fräulein von Kesten (Hedwig Schlichter). However, the girls are not entirely deprived of joy, and are able to derive some happiness for themselves in two particular ways. Firstly, the girls openly form romantic or emotional (platonic) attachments to one another and, secondly, Manuela and some of her more lucky companions are assigned to sleep in the dormitory of the beautiful, and very affectionate, Fräulein Elisabeth von Bernburg (Dorothea Wieck). The camaraderie depicted among the girls is extraordinary, as is their seemingly unwavering affection for Bernburg, who is the only teacher at the school even slightly interested in the girls’ well-being. Before ‘her’ girls go to sleep each night, they wait with an air of sexuallycharged anticipation for the goodnight kiss bestowed on their foreheads by Bernburg. The kiss Bernburg shares with Manuela, however, unfolds somewhat differently than between Bernburg and the other girls: after Manuela throws her arms around her teacher, Bernburg kisses her passionately on the lips. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that the two women are in love with one another, despite the impossibility of their situation. Their romance faces a sudden end, however, when Manuela becomes intoxicated after the school’s rendition of Schiller’s Don Carlos, wherein she plays the lead. Still dressed in her masculine costume, Manuela publicly proclaims the love between herself and Bernburg. As punishment, Manuela is quarantined and forbidden from interacting with her schoolmates and Bernburg. Distraught at the notion of never again seeing her beloved and her friends, Manuela attempts suicide by jumping off the school’s staircase. Tragedy is averted, however, when Manuela’s school companions and Bernburg intervene and she is pulled to safety. The Headmistress is horrified at the prospect of her actions having nearly caused Manuela’s suicide. As a result, the film ends with Bernburg and the girls triumphantly surrounding Manuela as the Headmistress silently walks away, defeated. 11 It should be noted that my analysis draws principally from post-1970s film scholarship concerned with an understanding of Mädchen in Uniform in reference to both its ‘queer’10 and anti-authoritarian themes. Until the film’s mostly-feminist ‘rediscovery’ in the 1970s, the romantic attachment clearly established between Bernburg and Manuela was perceived as a metaphoric anti-authoritarian plea or a warning against ‘oncoming’ fascism. As a result, “its anti-authoritarian stance was almost always emphasized, while its sexual politics were mostly ignored.”11 Therefore, post-1970s film criticism surrounding Mädchen in Uniform can be understood as an attempt to re-define the film’s subject matter by pointing out that its ‘queerness’ is more than simply an anti-authoritarian symbol. Drawing from this, I seek to demonstrate that Mädchen in Uniform can be thematically construed as both queer and anti-authoritarian without the reduction of one in service of the other. These two themes are deeply and intricately related, but the nature of their relationship should not be understood as hierarchal.12 Thus, this thesis seeks to examine the positive and unabashed representations of the romantic or erotic connectivity depicted between women in Mädchen in Uniform in association with its anti-authoritarian stance, without reductively conceptualizing the film as either categorically anti-authoritarian or pro-queer. I suggest that this can be accomplished by demonstrating the film’s emphasis on the romantic 10 It is unlikely that the word ‘queer’ (“quer”) would have been widely used in postwar Germany and, while it does exist in some German activist circles, the term does not have the same meaning in the German language or for Germans who do not identify as heterosexual. Nevertheless, and despite the risk of being (academically) anachronistic, I believe that the term’s connoted ‘otherness’ makes it particularly useful to this discussion as it includes all desire, activities, and expressions that are impossible to define as strictly heterosexual and/or heteronormative. The term ‘queer,’ then, acts as an umbrella term for everything non-heterosexual, and “marks an eccentricity common to gays, lesbians, bi-and transsexuals, a common protest against the hegemony and legitimacy of the normal.” Nevertheless, because ‘queer’ is a gender-unspecific term, I will sometimes use ‘lesbian’ in certain descriptions to avoid confusion. Kuzniar, Alice. The Queer German Cinema. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000, 6-7 and for quote Turner, William B. A Genealogy of Queer Theory. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999, 3. 11 McCormick, Richard W. Gender and Sexuality in Weimar Modernity: Film, Literature and “New Objectivity.” New York: Palgrave, 2001, 147. Two famous examples of pre-1970s film criticism overlooking Mädchen in Uniform’s queer theme in favour of its anti-authoritarianism are discussed by Lotte Eisner and Siegfried Kracauer in Eisner, Lotte. The Haunted Screen: Expressionism in the German Cinema and the Influence of Max Reinhardt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969 and Kracauer, Siegfried. From Caligari to Hitler: a Psychological History of the German Film. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947. 12 Indeed, this reflects my ultimate discussion of the film’s valorization of non-hierarchal interconnectivity. 12 interconnectivity between desiring subjects, which ultimately provides, and empowers, its anti-authoritarian standpoint. The sheer volume of scholarship concerning Mädchen in Uniform renders an exhaustive literature review within the confines of this discussion impossible. Nevertheless, it is integral to introduce B. Ruby Rich’s essay “From Repressive Tolerance to Erotic Liberation: Maedchen in Uniform” (1981) and Richard Dyer’s article “Less and More Than Women and Men: Lesbian and Gay Cinema in Weimar Germany” (1990), because these pieces have been pivotal in the overall inspiration of my investigation. Specifically, both pieces provide a rigorous analysis of Mädchen in Uniform’s sexual politics in reference to its negative representations of totalitarianism. Most importantly, however, is the similar attempt made by Dyer and Rich to illustrate and emphasize the importance of the explicit and erotic relationships between women depicted in the film. Even so, it should be noted that scholarly analyses of Mädchen in Uniform are not exclusively preoccupied with the ‘and/or’ debate surrounding its anti-authoritarian and queer themes. There exists a diverse plethora of writing on Mädchen in Uniform seeking to explore concepts such as the film’s aestheticism or narrative construction. For example, in her book Feminist Auteurs: Reading Women’s Films, Geetha Ramanathan examines Mädchen in Uniform’s aesthetic structure and narrative strategies in a fascinating exploration of the establishment of subjectivity via sexuality in this film, and Katie Sutton, in her book The Masculine Woman in Weimar Germany, discusses Mädchen in Uniform in reference to the varied representations of the masculinized female figure in Weimar-German popular culture, such as the hosenrolle.13 Thus, I suggest that the explicitness of the representations of same-sex love and desire in Mädchen in Uniform can, and should, be analyzed in 13 Ramanathan, Geetha. Feminist Auteurs: Reading Women’s Films. London: Wallflower Press, 2006, 168 and Sutton, Katie. The Masculine Woman in Weimar Germany. New York: Berghahn Books, 2011, 143, 144, 147. The hosenrolle refers to the so-called ‘trouser role,’ in which female actresses perform in male dress; Manuela, for example, does so as the lead in the school’s rendition of Don Carlos, as explored in Chapter 3. 13 connection with the film’s equally-explicit anti-authoritarianism. Returning to Rich and Dyer, and the importance of understanding this film as sexual and political, Rich purports that Mädchen in Uniform depicts a double coming-out story: “that of Manuela, the adolescent who voices ‘the love which dare not speak its name’14…and that of Fräulein von Bernburg, the teacher who repudiates her own role as an agent of suppression and wins her own freedom by accepting her attraction to other women.”15 Importantly, Rich asserts that an interpretation of the film as queer does not reduce the centrality of its anti-authoritarianism but, instead, contributes to it: “the film remains a profoundly antifascist drama, but now its political significance becomes a direct consequence of the film’s properly central subject, lesbianism, rather than a covert message wrapped up in an attractive but irrelevant metaphor.”16 Thus, for Rich, an understanding of the queer and anti-authoritarian themes as contradictory would be a gross oversimplification. Similarly, in his article “Less and More Than Women and Men: Lesbian and Gay Cinema in Weimar Germany,” Richard Dyer explores queer Weimar cinema by focusing on Mädchen in Uniform and Richard Oswald’s enlightenment film, Anders als die Andern (1919). Essentially, Dyer seeks to contextualize these films within broader discourses on sexuality coming out of the Weimar Republic. Most important to this discussion is Dyer’s reference to the explicit nature of the onscreen romantic encounters between women in Mädchen in Uniform. The explicitness of the film’s queerness suggests that “lesbianism is not incidental to the film’s antiauthoritarianism…in many ways, it is what makes [it] possible.”17 Like Rich, Dyer understands the film’s queerness as central to the film’s narrative and in 14 This is in reference to Manuela’s public declaration of love for Bernburg, which will be discussed in detail in Chapter 3. 15 Rich, Ruby B. “From Oppressive Tolerance to Erotic Liberation: Maedchen in Uniform.” In Rich, Ruby B. Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1998, 181. 16 Ibid, 1998, 181. It is important to note that I am not suggesting Mädchen in Uniform’s antiauthoritarianism or anti-totalitarianism should be understood as a foreshadowing of the Third Reich or of fascism in reference to Nazism, as I would perceive this to be an inaccurate, and highly-anachronistic, projection. 17 Dyer, Richard D. “Less and More Than Women and Men: Lesbian and Gay Cinema in Weimar Germany.” New German Critique 51 Special Issue on Weimar Mass Culture (Autumn 1990), 32. 14 connection to its broader political stance: “lesbianism is pivotal to the plot, and the filmic treatment both intensifies its romantic-erotic quality and suggests its subversive power.”18 With this in mind, my analysis will be carried out as follows. Using ‘haptic’ and feminist embodiment theories, in “Chapter 1: Haptic ConveyancesThe Body,” I examine the bedtime and opening scenes in Mädchen in Uniform to discuss how representations or suggestions of bodily contact can be understood as the temporary suspension of the respective ontological positions of ‘Self and ‘Other.’ Then, in “Chapter 2: The Facial Superimpositions- Establishing an Affinity,” my focus shifts from the role of the body to that of the face in Mädchen in Uniform. By looking at the classroom and rescue scenes, in this second chapter I seek to contextualize Sagan’s extraordinary use of the facial superimposition in Weimar-German and eighteenth-century understandings of corporeal and facial surfaces as revelatory and anti-dualistic. I suggest that the facial superimpositions, occurring exclusively between Manuela and Bernburg, visually connote their dynamic and reciprocal affinity. Manuela’s and Bernburg’s affinity, which I understand as fundamentally anti-hierarchal, leads to my analysis in “Chapter 3: Reciprocity and Liminality- Threatening Authoritarianism.” Performing a close reading of the gift and declaration scenes, in this final chapter I discuss the power of the affinity between the two women in reference to the role it plays in dismantling the strict authoritarian structure of the boarding school, in which the film’s narrative unfolds. 18 Ibid, 1990, 33. 15 15 Chapter 1: Haptic Conveyances- The Body 1.1 Introduction to Chapter 1 This first chapter explores the phenomenological implications of haptic corporeal depictions of the feminine body in the opening and bedtime scenes in Mädchen in Uniform. As I have chosen to examine the role played by faces in my second chapter, I am therefore choosing to restrict my discussion here to the body. As my choices of scenes and/or sequences suggest, my intention is to examine Mädchen in Uniform microcosmically; that is, to perform an intimate and detailed reading of integral moments within the film. In the spirit of ‘haptic’ film theorists like Laura U. Marks, I will closely examine the bedtime and opening scenes in Mädchen in Uniform in order to emphasize how depictions or suggestions of contact between bodies should be perceived as moments wherein the temporary blurring of the respective ontological positions of Self and Other is possible. I will begin by focusing on the opening sequence in Mädchen in Uniform and, more specifically, on what is at stake in the disembodied cluster-organization of the girls on screen and the significance of Sagan’s juxtaposition of static ‘male’ imagery, such as statues, with fluid and dynamic ‘female’ imagery, such as disembodied moving legs. I propose that this ‘framing’ of female with male imagery emphasizes two important concepts; firstly, a reconceptualization of ‘penetration’ or ‘entrance’ by privileging sensations of touch over sight; and, secondly, a non-hierarchal connection between desiring subjects by rendering dynamic the respective ontological positions of Self and Other. I will then move onto an exploration of the bedtime scene, in order to discuss how, firstly, the kiss shared by Bernburg and Manuela should be seen as a moment wherein the boundaries between self and other are suspended; and, secondly, to examine how Manuela’s fleeting glance at the camera temporarily interrupts the traditionally voyeuristic relationship between viewer and image. Ultimately, it is my goal to explore Mädchen in Uniform through the prism of theories of the haptic in order to examine how this film, by privileging the sense of touch over that of sight, succeeds in rendering dynamic the respective ontological positions of the Self and the Other at particular moments when contact is depicted or suggested. As I will 16 elaborate, the direct effect of this ontological dynamism is the impartation of knowledge. By ‘knowledge,’ I am referring to an intuitive connection between otherwise separate subjectivities which allows the transfer of information. In the case of Bernburg and Manuela, the information they receive is the desire they harbour for one another. As a result, this is a type of knowledge that does not require a mastery of a subject over an object; instead, it is a haptic sharing of experience. In this guise ‘knowledge’ reveals itself as the desire of subjectivities for mutual interaction and/or affinity. Furthermore, this privileging of touch over vision, and the consequential disruption of boundaries which leads to the ability to ‘know,’ should be seen as an ethical statement in the sense that relationships between women in this film are thereby conceptualized as non-hierarchal and necessarily intersubjective. In Mädchen in Uniform, the act of touch ultimately functions to suspend, at least temporarily, ontological dichotomies. The haptic, particularly when considered in the context of cinematic analyses, is a multi-faceted concept without any singular definition. Broadly, the haptic is the ability to perceive, that is, to ‘see,’ in a manner which simultaneously perpetuates and emphasizes a sensation of contact or physical connection between two or more entities. For instance, this can occur between film-image and viewer, between characters on screen, and so on. Consequently, I would also suggest that haptic perception is deeply connected to the epistemological capability of the ‘Self’ to impart knowledge onto the ‘Other’ (which should be seen as that which is outside of oneself) and vice-versa at a particular moment. This moment, however fleeting, represents an opportunity for ontological liminality and the ensuing suspension of ontological borders. In the context of haptic cinema, said moments of ontological liminality occur precisely when it becomes impossible to separate the sensations of touch and sight. In a haptic universe, therefore, the very act of perception becomes a highly embodied and necessarily interactive experience. Here, my understanding of haptic cinema draws principally upon the works of Laura U. Marks and Jennifer Barker, who have made significant contributions to theories of a haptic and/or tactile cinema. I have combined these more cinematic theoretical inquiries with those of feminist phenomenologists, 17 such as Iris Marion Young and Luce Irigaray, who have written on the philosophical implications of touch as a means of experiencing oneself and one’s surroundings, particularly as a feminine and/or feminized subject. Bearing in mind the connection I will be making between feminist and cinematic theory, I am seeking to carve out a definition of cinematic tactility that is inextricable from representations of feminine corporeality. Therefore, I am attempting to understand corporeal depictions of women as “complex yet indivisible surface[s] of communication and perception” in this film.1 As Laura U. Marks points out in her book, Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media, the term ‘haptic’ is an extremely dynamic concept that simultaneously exhibits qualities of touch and vision, and thus inextricable from the multisensory navigation of cinematic surfaces. Haptic analyses of any given surface (cinematic, corporeal, and so on) require an intimate and/or physical connection that extends upon visual perception in order to maintain constant engagement with that which is being explored.2 Consequently, a haptic means of analysis establishes a firm non-hierarchal and non-mastering means by which surfaces, and other observable phenomena, might be explored via a specific means of ‘perception’ that is both visual and tactile and, therefore, “dialectical.”3 By its very nature, haptic navigation renders attention to surface details obligatory, and necessitates the existence of a haptic critic who “navigates a…space by engaging immediately with objects and ideas and teasing out the connections immanent to them.”4 Thus, haptic criticism, and by extension the haptic critic, cannot be distant from his/her ‘object’ of inquiry but instead must establish with it an intimate and reciprocal relationship. The reciprocity inherent to the intimate connection established between analyzer and surface by virtue of haptic exploration renders the experience erotic via its suggestion of closeness in 1 Elsaesser, Thomas and Hagener, Malte. Film Theory: An Introduction Through the Senses. New York and London: Routledge, 2010, 110. 2 Marks, Laura U. Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002, xii. 3 Ibid, 2002, 3. 4 Ibid, 2002, xiii. 18 a physical sense, which Marks sees comparable to a sexual experience. For Marks, intimacy, reciprocity, and the ultimate dynamism inherent in both of these qualities, suggests a means of analysis endowed with the constant “ability to oscillate between near and far…what is erotic [in these moments] is the ability to move between control and relinquishing, between being giver and receiver. It’s the ability to have your sense of self, your self-control, taken away and restored— and to do the same for another person…a lover’s promise is to take the beloved to that point where he or she has no distance from the body—and then to let the beloved come back.”5 The very eroticism inherent to Marks’ conceptualization of the haptic is central to my own analysis of Mädchen in Uniform, as I suggest that not only does this erotic oscillation occur between surface-analyzer and analyzed-surface, but also within the (haptic) cinematic imagery itself—that is, in the images of the women and girls interacting with one another on screen. With Marks’ concept of haptic analyses and/or navigation in mind, I will now turn back to Mädchen in Uniform and begin my discussion of this film by exploring two specific cinematic details of the opening sequences—firstly, how the viewer enters or ‘penetrates’6 the filmic universe of Mädchen in Uniform and, secondly, how Sagan places the girls on screen directly afterward. I propose that Sagan ‘haptically’ employs the audience’s first entrance into the diegetic world of the film and the girls’ orientation in space within this scene invites a haptic analysis. Ultimately, this haptic analysis can be used to examine these scenes in a way which connotes a relationship of dynamic interactivity between not only the girls onscreen, but also between viewer and film image. 5 Marks, Laura U. Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002, xvi. 6 In a context of haptic cinematic analysis, using the words ‘penetrate’ or ‘penetration’ might be perceived as somewhat unconventional; however, my goal is to argue that the film invites spectators to ‘penetrate’ the image in a manner that does not encourage a sense of (masculine) control and/or objectification, but instead establishes a highly reciprocal (and indeed haptic) relationship between film and/or film image and viewer. 19 1.2 The Opening Scene In addition to being directed by a woman and based on a play written by a woman, Mädchen in Uniform takes place in an all-girls boarding school and the cast is entirely female—no men actually appear on screen at any point during the film. For this reason, the film has often been perceived as an anomaly within the study of Weimar cinema, in the sense that women were so central to its realization.7 Despite the absence of male on-screen individuals, it would nevertheless prove superficial to conclude that the film’s universe is exclusively and unwaveringly coded as feminine.8 Upon closer inspection, Sagan consistently makes viewers aware of the fact that its seemingly feminine universe cannot exist totally apart from the masculine. In fact, viewers’ first entrance into the filmic world of the boarding school takes places by virtue of their participation within a masculine scopic economy. What is interesting about this is that, regarding ‘feminine’ imagery, Sagan’s cinematic technique requires a caressing or haptic, as opposed to a mastering, gaze. Sagan cinematically suggests this re-conception of the gaze via the juxtaposition between the opening montage and how she chooses to arrange the schoolgirls in their first onscreen appearance. At the film’s opening, Sagan confronts viewers with large, static, and extremely masculine imagery in the form of a short montage, presented immediately before the viewer sees the girls at school for the first time.9 After the opening credits, the first onscreen figure is a statue of a soldier wearing armour (Figure 1.1), which then is replaced by images 7 Sutton, Katie. The Masculine Woman in Weimar Germany. New York: Berghahn Books, 2001, 142. 8 In her piece “From Oppressive Tolerance to Erotic Liberation: Maedchen in Uniform,” feminist film critic B.Ruby Rich suggests that the atmosphere of the film should not be seen as exclusively feminine because “the very first establishing shots of the film serve to inform us of the real power of absent patriarchy and remind us that an all-woman school in no way represents a womandefined space.” Rich, Ruby B. “From Oppressive Tolerance to Erotic Liberation: Maedchen in Uniform.” In Rich, Ruby B. Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1998, 182, 183. 9 According to Rich, the very nature of the opening montage is “no doubt Soviet-influenced.” Rich, Ruby B. “From Oppressive Tolerance to Erotic Liberation: Maedchen in Uniform.” In Rich, Ruby B. Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1998, 180. 20 of large columns (Figure 1.2). The columns are followed slowly downwards by the camera to statues of four men wrestling one another in pairs (Figure 1.3). This image cuts suddenly to that of a soldier holding a large gun (Figure 1.4), after which the camera quickly cuts back to the wrestlers and columns. Although the montage consists of only approximately one minute, the viewer is confronted with oversized images of masculine power and domination in the form of violence and military prowess. Additionally, these are cultural images which serve to connote a sense of rationale. For example, athletics and the army are extremely organized cultural entities. Despite the movement these images could potentially suggest (military invasion, athleticism, and so on) if represented differently on camera, the male figures nevertheless appear in the form of statues made from either stone or steel. Consequently, they are static. Therefore, from a metaphysical standpoint the statues connote a sense of masculine and ultimately phallic strength by virtue of their material hardness.10 Furthermore, while the statues are outside, their cinematic representation causes them to appear so large that they serve to obscure, even oppose, the natural environment in which they are placed. For example, in the scene wherein the columns and wrestlers are shown, the sky in the background is only partly visible and obviously not the intended focus (Figure 1.2). Similarly, to the left of the first image of the armoured soldier, we see a heavily shadowed and obscured tree (Figure 1.1). Again, the tree is only partly visible and not the scene’s intended focus. The obscuring of nature via the insertion of hard and static masculine imagery is especially significant from a traditional western philosophical standpoint. Nature is conceived as the negative, irrational, and feminized counterpart to positive, rational, and masculine culture. Here, with this paradigm in mind, irrational nature is dominated by rational culture. 10 It is also fascinating that Sagan’s choice to depict the statues with harsh backlighting makes them appear silhouette-like; this further emphasizes the hard contours of the statues. 21 Figure 1.1: Statue of a soldier in armour; a shadowed tree is visible (far left). Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform11 Figure 1.2: Large columns behind which the sky is visible. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform12 11 “Statue of Solider Wearing Armour.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 22 Figure 1.3: Statues of soldiers wrestling in pairs Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform13 12 “Large Columns.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 13 “Soldiers Wrestling in Pairs.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 23 Figure 1.4: Statue of a soldier holding a large gun Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform14 Sagan’s choice to present this imagery in the form of a short montage, which continuously accelerates until its conclusion, should too be understood as an effort to connote a sense of masculinity. The montage, extremely choppy in its progression, cuts sharply from image to image. Consequently, viewers’ focus rests primarily on the largest and most prominent on-screen images: the soldiers, the columns, and the wrestlers. The montage, by virtue of its speed and cutting, prevents any close inspection of the onscreen imagery. Indeed, the interruptivequality seemingly inherent to the cinematic montage renders any visual ‘caress’ of a filmic image, or attention to its details, practically impossible. As a result, viewers come to ‘know’ this imagery starkly and quickly. From an epistemological standpoint, viewers’ interaction with this sequence and the imagery therein takes place without the possibility of any real consideration of the imagery itself. For instance, to remark on the natural environment obscured behind the statues, one must be either be granted (via technological means, etc.) 14 “Soldier Holding Large Gun.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 24 or take the time to do so (using film stills, and so on). Consequently, the viewer enters into a highly voyeuristic and thereby one-sided relationship with these images because they are viewed hurriedly and from a distance and, as non-living statues, cannot look back. Nevertheless, the inclusion of nature within these scenes cannot be ignored. However obscured it may be or whether or not it is paid attention to, the natural environment in these scenes are nonetheless present. To notice it, however, requires something from the audience—namely, it requires that viewers navigate the environment in which they visually find themselves. Therefore, the potential to shift the voyeuristic tendency of the opening montage should be perceived as immanent to the opening scene in and of itself. This not only sets up the audience to approach the film from the perspective of a caressing visuality, it also suggests the possibility of reconceiving how ‘penetration’ or entrance into a given filmic universe by the viewer might function outside of a paradigm of domination or dichotomous hierarchies. Furthermore, this is precisely why an analysis of Mädchen in Uniform as taking place within an exclusively feminine realm is one-dimensional: without the obscuring of the feminine by the masculine, we would not otherwise be required to caress and thoughtfully examine these scenes.15 We must, therefore, break through our participation within the masculine paradigm in this film in order to reach that of the feminine.16 Even the transition from the montage to the image of the girls serves to reflect this concept: there is a 15 It is important to mention that Rich discusses the ‘masculine,’ or what should be perceived as ‘coded-as-masculine’ imagery depicted in this montage as evidence of the girls’ environment as incapable of ever being ‘free’ of the presence of patriarchy. I am instead suggesting that this imagery functions as a means by which audiences must use a haptic sense of navigation in order to break through the ‘masculine’ realm and enter that of the ‘feminine.’ I do not, however, mean to imply that the school is completely devoid of masculine influence, but that the means by which viewers enter into the world of the school takes place within a haptic paradigm that disrupts hierarchal boundaries inherent to the voyeuristic audience-film image relationship. See: Rich, Ruby B. “From Oppressive Tolerance to Erotic Liberation: Maedchen in Uniform.” In Rich, Ruby B. Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1998, 195, 196. 16 As Laura Mulvey suggests, it is not only possible but ultimately fruitful to seek immanent alternatives: “There is no way in which we can produce an alternative out of the blue, but we can begin to make a break by examining patriarchy with the tools it provides.” Mulvey, Laura. Visual and Other Pleasures. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989, 15. 25 short but noticeable pause before the girls appear on screen. This implies that while the image of the girls and those of the statues are related—they are, as discussed earlier, juxtaposed by Sagan—the pause indicates that they should, to some degree, also be viewed as separate. Thus, the audience first ‘enters’ the diegetic world of the film by virtue of a certain voyeurism containing the immanent potential to shift into a paradigm of a caressing, and therefore haptic, gaze. Consequently, it is significant that the accelerated montage in the opening sequence is followed by the viewers’ first introduction to the unisex realm of the boarding school. After the sound of a bell is diegetically linked with an on-screen image of a clock tower, the camera moves downwards and the viewer literally enters, even penetrates, the world of the school. Hence, and although only occurring momentarily, it is likely no coincidence that the girls first appear on screen from the waist down as they walk, two-by-two, along a pathway (Figure 1.5). Here, it is noteworthy to point out the temptation to interpret the camera work, the disembodied body parts captured on camera, and the viewers’ unseen entrance into the girls’ universe as a phallic, voyeuristic and ultimately scopophilic intrusion into a private world. As emphasized by Laura Mulvey in her key work “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” cinematic ‘looking’ and the ensuing pleasure gleaned from said looking occur through scopophilia and voyeurism, which exist along the binary of active/male and passive/female.17 If understood in the context of Mulvey’s theory, the passive and disembodied imagery of the girls’ legs should render them objectified by the necessarily male and mastering gaze, and the image itself might by seen as bringing only “flatness, the quality of a cut-out or icon, rather than verisimilitude, to the screen.”18 17 Mulvey, Laura. Visual and Other Pleasures. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989, 16-19. 18 Ibid, 1989, 20. 26 Figure 1.5: First image of the girls walking closely together. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform19 I would propose an alternative reading of this scene. Undoubtedly the girls—and more importantly their body parts—are the literal ‘object(s)’ of the viewers’ gaze. However, upon closer inspection this scene encourages a haptic and ‘caressing’ ‘seeing’ by suggesting fluidity and emphasizing the importance of the detail which, in turn, stress the importance of a particularly haptic spatial navigation in the analysis of this scene. Undeniably, Sagan’s juxtaposition of the girls’ legs in motion with the accelerated montage of inert imagery places them in stark contrast to the static images of rational male culture discussed previously. This disrupts, and perhaps even undoes, the active-subject/passive-object or voyeur/looked-at paradigm.20 For this reason, it is not possible to fully characterize this scene as one of objectification because the girls and their moving legs—disembodied as they may be—cannot be fully defined as objects. From a 19 “First Image of the Girls.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 20 According to Mulvey, the onscreen feminine epitomizing “to-be-looked-at-ness” or exhibitionism contrasts masculine voyeurism. Mulvey, Laura. Visual and Other Pleasures. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989, 19. 27 Western phenomenological standpoint, ‘object’ and ‘subject’ are traditionally contrasted by endowing each with opposing characteristics. According to Iris Marion Young in her work Breasted Experience: The Look and the Feeling, the subject is dynamic and self-perpetuating and the “object is determinate and definable, with clear boundaries…the object is passive, inert matter, having no self-moving capacity, its movement all externally and mechanically caused.”21 However, the image of the girls’ legs is pure movement, simply because the girls are not depicted as static and move in and of themselves because, unlike the images captured of the (male) statues, it is the image(s) of the girls moving and not the camera. The girls, as they are shown walking, are completely dynamic: their legs, although hidden underneath the school uniforms, can be seen in outline underneath their dresses. Thus, the viewer knows that the legs are present by virtue of their ability to move. This movement belies not only the presence of the legs but also connotes the girls’ status as dynamic and self-perpetuating subjectivities. With this in mind, I will now turn to the significance of the girls’ legs as depicted only partially and in close-up, which I see as re-conceiving viewers’ entrance into the diegetic world of the film from a hierarchical gazer/gazed at relationship to a relationship characterized by haptic reciprocity. As a consequence of their cinematic rendering, to remark on the movement of the girls’ legs requires a haptic sensibility because it is a hidden detail. The legs, as they move, are simultaneously seen and unseen because they are visible only via suggestion, as they are mere outlines beneath fabric (Figure 1.5). The close-up on the detail of movement is both arresting and inviting: viewers must not only remark on what is it being shown, but must actually ‘go in’ to the shot in order to see what that might be. In this way, “an embodied view is encouraged, strangely perhaps, by these disembodied and floating images, for they approach the viewer 21 Young, Iris Marion. “Breasted Experience: The Look and the Feeling.” In Young, Marion Iris. On Female Body Experience. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005, 78. 28 not through the eyes alone but also through the skin.”22 Consequently, the disembodied nature of the imagery paradoxically encourages an intimate viewing experience based on connectivity and intimate contact with the on-screen image rather than a voyeuristic and distant encounter with a passive and disembodied object.23 Thus, this particular moment should be conceived as connoting a sense of touch between image and viewer. It should, therefore, be understood as a haptic encounter. Requiring viewers to closely examine or experience an image, even imagery seemingly connoting a sense of disembodied femininity, renders the total separation between gazer and gazed-at impossible, as the audience becomes “drawn into a rapport with the other where [they] lose the sense of [their] own boundaries.”24 Therefore, the haptic means by which viewers enter into the diegetic world of Mädchen in Uniform suspends the gazer/gazed-at hierarchal paradigm—albeit momentarily—by virtue of its suggestion of contact. Hence, in this moment, there occurs an “intersubjective relation between…beholder and a work of cinema.”25 It is also significant that this first image of the girls indicates a certain ‘incompleteness’: they are shown walking clustered together and from the waistdown. I suggest that the girls’ incompleteness of form, in tandem with the suggested representation of their genitalia by virtue of the camera angle, emphasize a certain plurality and fluidity integral to this discussion. As stated previously, the girls’ incompleteness of form serves to draw the viewer into a relationship of a caressing, intimate, and therefore haptic encounter with this image. By surrendering a completeness of form, “the image gives up its optical clarity to engulf the viewer in a flow of tactile impressions.”26 This incomplete image, precisely because it requires a caressing gaze the focuses on the detail of 22 Marks, Laura U. Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002, 4. 23 Barker, Jennifer. The Tactile Eye: Touch and the Cinematic Experience. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009, 2. 24 Marks, Laura U. Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002, 1. 25 Ibid, 2002, 13. 26 Ibid, 2002, 1. 29 the girls’ legs—images of which are highly-charged in traditional narrative cinema—hints at a particular form of eroticism. While Mulvey-inspired film criticism might interpret the disembodied legs and genitalia as a scopophilic masculine gaze mastering and thereby ‘knowing’ the disembodied and distantly observed feminine object, I suggest instead that performing a haptic ‘erotic’ reading of this scene offers an alternative perspective which empowers the incomplete image. This eroticism, which requires the viewers to ‘touch’ the image visually in order to experience it, is illustrated here specifically within a feminine realm of incompleteness.27 This eroticism of incompleteness,28 as it were, emphasizes the importance of fluidity and plurality with regards to momentary dynamism between the respective ontological categories of Self and Other. In order to delve further into the eroticism of incompleteness as demonstrated by Sagan’s depiction of the girls’ legs, it would now be fruitful to turn Luce Irigaray’s discussion of what she suggests are inherently positive philosophical connotations of ‘incomplete’ female genitalia. More specifically, Irigaray contrasts the physiology of female genitalia with that of the (masculine) phallus in order to demonstrate the merits of alternative relationships between desiring subjectivities. In The Sex Which Is Not One, Irigaray emphasizes that female sexuality has always been conceived within a phallic-masculine paradigm, the operation of which requires the existence of an active-male/passive-female 27 Although this idea cannot be further expanded upon here, this ‘incompleteness of form,’ cinematically illustrated via the disembodied legs visually the nature of the girls’ position within the school. According to the Headmistress, the girls are not only children of soldiers but will hopefully be future mothers of soldiers. By naming a future goal, the headmistress places the girls within a development process—they are moving towards a particular state of being (becoming wives/mothers) but, presently, have not yet arrived. The point in time at which the film takes place, therefore, is a moment of transition for the girls. Even the teachers, whose pedagogical positions allow them to symbolically enter into a pseudo-maternal relationship with the girls, can be seen as being in a state of incompleteness as they are unmarried and without children of their own. This further serves to contrast the masculine images, through which viewers must ‘go’ in order to enter into the feminine realm in which the film takes place, which are of adult men. Of course, other aspects of the film also belie the school’s status as a transitory environment, such as the used clothing given to Manuela, and presumably the other girls, upon arrival. 28 Marks writes about the “eroticism of incompleteness” in reference to her fascinating discussion of the haptic properties of Pixelvision. See: Marks, Laura U. Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002, 11. 30 binary.29 A similar comparison can be made when taking into account the opening accelerated montage of the extra-large and static masculine imagery directly before viewers are confronted with the image of the walking girls. The relative tininess of the feminine imagery seems to reflect what Irigaray describes as the so-called incomparability of female genitalia to “the noble phallic organ” and its reduction to “a non-sex” in Western philosophical discourse.30 Within predominant codes of (hetero) sexuality, according to Irigaray, feminine ‘non’sexuality is defined as incomplete or as lacking, which necessitates its unrecognized value within a system privileging the singular, phallic organ. Furthermore, the privileged active/singular masculine phallus underscores a “predominance of the visual” by decidedly placing feminine sexuality within a realm of the invisible.31 Again, Sagan’s choice to contrast the overbearing masculine imagery with the feminine detail seems to reflect this. The ‘lacking’ feminine ‘non’-sexuality becomes the negative or opposite of the singular and visible phallic organ within this paradigm because “woman’s genitals are simply absent, masked, sewn up inside their ‘crack.’”32 Yet it is the very predominance and privileging of ‘masculine’ singularity and visibility which allow for a positive re-reading of the opposing ‘feminine’ traits of plurality and touch.33 This concept is particularly significant with regards to how, exactly, Sagan spatially presents the girls’ legs on screen. As previously mentioned, a haptic reading of the girls’ disembodied and moving legs in this scene connotes an eroticism of incompleteness based on intimacy and contact between image and viewer. This is suggested in particular by Sagan’s use of the close-up and static camera in this scene, both of which allow the disembodied legs to move on and off screen, and in her choice to juxtapose this scene with the previous montage of static male imagery. Drawing on this, I suggest that the eroticism of incompleteness inherent to this scene exists in tandem with an 29 Irigaray, Luce. This Sex Which Is Not One. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985, 23. Ibid, 1985, 23. 31 Ibid, 1985, 25. 32 Ibid, 1985, 26. 33 Ibid, 1985, 30, 31. 30 31 eroticism of plurality or multiplicity because the girls’ legs are clustered together, almost touching, and consequentially rendered indistinct. Therefore, this single image paradoxically becomes an image of multiplicity, wherein subjects’ physical, and by extension ontological, boundaries are blurred by virtue of their close contact with one another. The plurality of this image, especially as it takes place within the feminine realm of the school, can be explored via Irigaray’s conceptualization of the phenomenological implications of feminine autoeroticism which she sees as not only multiple, but dynamic. As she points out, “woman…touches herself in and of herself...before there is any way to distinguish activity from passivity. Woman ‘touches herself’ all the time…for her genitals are formed of two lips in continuous contact. Thus, within herself, she is already two—but not divisible into one(s)—that caress each other.” Moreover, it is precisely the “incompleteness of form” or lack of female genitalia “which allows her organ to touch itself over and over again, indefinitely, by itself.”34 Bearing in the depiction of the clustered-together legs, what is particularly important here is Irigaray’s seemingly paradoxical suggestion that, firstly, the singular feminine entity (and her sexuality) is already, in and of herself, plural; and, secondly, that her plural sexuality exists in contrast to singular male phallic sexuality.35 Eroticism in a feminine realm, therefore, is plural, dynamic, and privileges touch over sight. Consequently, feminine-centred eroticism cannot operate on the (heterosexual) binary of active/passive, male/female, or Self/Other because it does not function along hierarchal lines. The juxtaposition made by Sagan between the two opening sequences in combination with the depiction of the girls’ legs, which should be conceived as incomplete, dynamic, and plural. This emphasizes Sagan’s efforts throughout the film to reconceive interpersonal relationships as non-dichotomous and nonhierarchal by privileging sensations of touch over those of visuality during bodily encounters. As a result, these encounters should be understood as haptic. As 34 35 Irigaray, Luce. This Sex Which Is Not One. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985, 26. Ibid, 1985, 24. 32 already discussed, haptic encounters take place in Mädchen in Uniform between both the girls on screen and between viewers and onscreen imagery by virtue of Sagan’s ‘haptic’ cinematic style. I would suggest these haptic cinematic encounters result in the impartation of knowledge taking place via touch; for example viewers must go into the girls’ universe in order to ‘know’ it. However, the way in which Sagan cinematically represents this entrance into the diegetic world of the film requires a specifically haptic attention to detail and spatial navigation. By using the close-up to first introduce the girls—that is, to enter into their world—which is an erotic image by virtue of its suggestion of genitalia, plurality, and incompleteness, Sagan illustrates not only how viewers come to haptically ‘know’ the diegetic world of the film, but how the characters in the film relate to and come to know one another. 1.3 The Bedtime Scene I will now turn to the infamous bedtime scene in Mädchen in Uniform to discuss how the existence of active and non-hierarchical romantic desire is established by physical contact or, at the very least, the suggestion thereof. Almost immediately after the film begins, the audience is made aware that Bernburg kisses each girl before they go to sleep. Even the impartation of this information—that Bernburg kisses her students—takes place in tandem with physical closeness. On Manuela’s first day at the school, soon after her aunt leaves her, she is confronted by several of the students on her way up the stairs. After hearing that she is assigned to Bernburg’s sleeping dormitory, Ilse (Ellen Schwannecke) jumps down two or three steps until she is only centimetres away from Manuela’s face. Getting even closer, and holding an upturned index finger close to Manuela’s nose, Ilse warns her not to fall in love with Bernburg (Figure 1.6).36 Backing away, it is Manuela’s turn to move forward and she simply asks, “Warum denn?” Ilse, again putting her face extremely close to Manuela’s, explains that girls always develop crushes on Bernburg. Furthermore, as the exchange between Ilse and Manuela is taking place, the girls are standing behind 36 “Na, da verlieb dich mal nicht.” 33 Ilse and are so tightly clustered together that it is difficult to determine the outlines of their individual bodies. Thus, in this sequence, pertinent information is imparted from one individual (in this case, Ilse) to another (Manuela) as the girls stand close together. Figure 1.6: Ilse (right) warns Manuela (left) not to fall in love. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform37 Thus, the kiss shared by Manuela and Bernburg establishes their mutual desire for one another. I suggest that in this moment of erotic contact ‘knowledge’ is imparted to and from desiring subjectivities via close erotic touch. More specifically, in Mädchen in Uniform close erotic touch ultimately signifies the existence of romantic desire between Bernburg and Manuela. Once the girls have completed their bedtime routine and are about to go to sleep, Bernburg turns off the lights and begins gliding throughout the darkened and heavily shadowed room and kisses each over-excited kneeling girl on the forehead before pushing them, quite roughly, away from her. However, this apparently long-established routine unfolds somewhat differently between Manuela and Bernburg. As Bernburg 37 “Ilse Warns Manuela.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 34 approaches Manuela’s bed, Manuela rises up to a kneeling position (Figure 1.7)— unlike the other girls, who have already been kneeling before Bernburg approaches (Figure 1.8). Of particular significance here is that Manuela moves towards Bernburg (she rises up to a kneeling position) as Bernburg moves towards her (she walks to Manuela’s bed). Consequently, both women should be understood as being dynamic and, referring back to Young’s aforementioned definition of a subject, each woman can be seen—albeit fleetingly—as an active and self-perpetuating subject. For less than a second, the two women gaze at one another, with their faces nearly touching (Figure 1.9); Manuela then suddenly wraps Bernburg into a tight embrace (Figure 1.10). Hence, as already discussed, physical contact requires at least a temporary overcoming of the boundary between the Self and Other. With this in mind, the embrace between Bernburg and Manuela sets up the plurality-eroticism or eroticism of incompleteness which reaches its climax in the kiss they share. The embrace, returned by Bernburg, suggests that she also participates in the hug willingly, particularly as she allows her fingers to spread out on Manuela’s back. Then, after the embrace is loosened and the two women gaze into one another’s faces, depicted in soft focus, Bernburg suddenly kisses Manuela on the lips (Figures 1.11 and 1.12) and both women move, once again independently, away from one another. The significance of the kiss is manifold, but particularly emphasizes the centrality of the caress in this film—that is, a haptic navigation of, or interaction with, surfaces. This is integral not only to the active expression of desire in this film, but to making that desire ‘knowable.’ The kiss-sharing scene, which is extremely brief, is devoid of audible linguistic interaction. After Bernburg kisses Manuela, she appears to mouth the word “Nacht,” but it is not possible for viewers to hear this.38 I would 38 It is admittedly somewhat difficult to determine whether or not the inaudibility of Bernburg’s dialogue at this moment has to do with technological difficulties stemming from the status of Mädchen in Uniform as an early sound film, or with a conscious decision on Sagan’s part to privilege corporeal over oral communication. I would suggest the latter, as there are other moments in the film where Sagan depicts lips moving without audible speech. For instance, before the girls get ready for bed one of the instructor’s mouths is shown in close up, moving; she is perhaps reciting bedtime prayers or giving orders. I do not think it would make sense for Sagan to make audible Bernburg’s speech at this moment because within this scene audiences become privy 35 suggest that the reason for this is to establish this moment as a realm wherein contact is the only discernible means by which information can be imparted. The epistemological result of the kiss is twofold: like Manuela and Bernburg, the kiss renders viewers aware of the desire the two women harbour for one another. The kiss, then, as an act of erotic contact, places them into a haptic relationship with one another. As Marks points out, “in a haptic relationship our self rushes up to the surface to interact with another surface—we become amoebalike, lacking a center, changing as the surface to which we cling changes. [Therefore] we cannot help but be changed in the process of interacting.”39 Erotic contact between two desiring subjects represents the transfer of knowledge from one being to another. The kiss, which is indeed the climatic tactile encounter between Bernburg and Manuela, communicates desire between two otherwise separate subjectivities via contact. In the film, the kiss is the ultimate physical expression of their love, and one the most obvious physical representations of their romantic affinity. The kiss is the obvious focus of the bedtime scene; for this reason, I propose that the kiss, and especially the women’s lips, indicate not only a transfer of knowledge but also signify a temporary suspension of the physical, and by extension ontological, borders between Self and Other. This temporary suspension indicates that the kiss occurs between two desiring subjectivities. While the importance of the kiss should not be underestimated, it is important to note that I am choosing to characterize the dynamism of this moment as temporary because fleeting intimate contact between two subjects (Bernburg and Manuela) renders neither physical bodies nor ontological subject positions permanently dynamic.40 How exactly, then, does to the haptic/tactile nature of the relationship Bernburg has not only with Manuela, but with the other girls as well (she kisses them all goodnight). Their bonds, and knowledge of these bonds and how they function, are established via close, physical, and erotic sensations of contact. 39 Marks, Laura U. Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002, xvi. 40 As Marks points out: “Haptic criticism…invites the critic to have faith that these encounters may be transformative but need not be shattering…a sexual act that breaks the boundaries of the body…need not destroy the self.” Marks, Laura U. Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002, xv. 36 physical contact, in the form of the kiss shared by Manuela and Bernburg, serve to blur the corporeal and ontological boundaries between them and, moreover, why should their kiss—as a tactile moment—thereby be seen as an exchange between two desiring subjectivities? To answer these questions, let us turn back to Young.41 Contrasting tactility and visuality, Young characterizes sensations/acts of touching as dynamic and multifaceted: “unlike the gazer, the one who touches cannot be at a distance from what she knows in touch. While active, touch is simultaneously passive…the toucher cannot touch the happenings she knows without also being touched by them. The act of touching is also necessarily an experience of being touched.”42 The obligatory intimacy of tactile exchanges renders a hierarchal relationship between Self/Other and/or subject/object impossible during the moment of contact: “touching cannot happen without a touching back, and thus there can be no clear opposition between subject and object, because the two positions constantly turn into each other.”43 The temporary blurring of the corporeal boundaries, therefore, extends into the suspension of ontological ones. As the women kiss, Bernburg is no longer the authoritative subject asserting her will over Manuela. Instead the two women move together in tandem and participate in this kiss as mutual subjects expressing romantic desire.44 It is the act of touch which allows “two hierarchically related elements,” Bernburg and Manuela, to temporarily interact as ontological equals.45 41 It should be pointed out that taken out of the philosophical context in which her piece is written, Young does indeed come across and somewhat idealistic in her perception of tactility and how it functions in opposition to visuality. As a case in point, in “Breasted Experience: The Look at the Feeling,” Young does not deal with issues surrounding the very pertinent reality of violent or invasive sensations and/or acts of physical contact. Instead, she focuses on tactility as a philosophical means to articulate a potential for alternative conceptualizations of feminine subjectivity and body experience. See: Young, Iris Marion. “Breasted Experience: The Look and the Feeling.” In On Female Body Experience. Oxford University Press, 2005. 42 Young, Iris Marion. “Breasted Experience: The Look and the Feeling.” In On Female Body Experience. Oxford University Press, 2005, 81. 43 Ibid, 2005, 81. 44 The overcoming of (authoritative) hierarchal distinctions, so central to the school’s atmosphere and organization, will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 3 in connection with the antiauthoritarianism established by the film. 45 Marks, Laura U. Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002, xv. 37 Figure 1.7: Manuela rises to kneel as Bernburg moves towards her. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform46 Figure 1.8: The girls kneeling as Bernburg (far left) approaches. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform47 46 “Manuela Rises to Kneel.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 38 Figure 1.9: Manuela and Bernburg gaze at one another. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform48 47 “The Girls Kneel.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 48 “Manuela and Bernburg Gaze at One Another.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 39 Figure 1.10: Manuela wraps Bernburg in a sudden embrace. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform49 Figure 1.11: Close-up of the kiss shared by Manuela and Bernburg. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform50 49 “Manuela Embraces Bernburg before the Kiss.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 40 Figure 1.12: Medium-shot of the kiss. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform51 This temporary suspension of ontological positions similarly occurs between viewers and onscreen image. As already discussion, plurality and eroticism of incompleteness undermines the voyeuristic or mastering gaze by virtue of requiring the viewer to visually ‘caress’ the surface image via haptic means of analysis. Moreover, Sagan cinematically signifies active and mutual (lesbian) desire by depicting physical contact and/or interactivity between bodies, whether literal, in the form of skin-to-skin contact, or abstract, in the form of a gaze, as I will now discuss. Requiring a haptic interactivity between looker and image necessitates an alternative viewing experience based on tactility that effectively disrupts or ‘undoes’ the voyeur or, more specifically, a mastering and one-sided viewing experience. By interrupting or ‘undoing’ the voyeur, Sagan 50 “Close-up of the Kiss.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 51 “Medium-shot of the Kiss.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 41 necessitates “a dynamic subjectivity between looker and image.”52 This can be witnessed just before Bernburg and Manuela share their kiss, when the film’s audience appears to be directly addressed. As Manuela observes Bernburg move around the room, kissing each girl on the forehead respectively, the camera moves thoughtfully and images are generally taken as wide shots from the perspective of the right hand corner of the room. The room is dark and the shadows are heavy, but the atmosphere nevertheless remains in a soft focus. This gives the viewer the impression of being hidden in the dark, unseen, which allows for the easy and uninterrupted consumption of the women put on display. In this way, the voyeuristic and necessarily ‘masculinized’ subject comes to know, through the gaze, the necessarily feminine ‘objects’ within the spectacle. As this space is extremely intimate in nature (the audience finds itself within the bedroom of young girls), the voyeuristic gaze is somewhat unsettling upon reflection as it suggests a violation of privacy wherein “through the male gaze…the female body is being explored…[it is] the (male) gaze of power on the (female) body.” 53 The voyeur, by virtue of its very definition, must remain unseen in order to act without being acted upon. Its unseen nature “depends on forms of disembodiment, [and] especially the idea of not having to take responsibility for one’s bodily presence in a given space or at a given time.”54 The distanced and/or disembodied construction of the voyeur symbolizes its (threatening) potential to master or possess that which it sees. However, Sagan successfully interrupts the full and exclusive subjectivity of the voyeur by implicating the spectator in the bedtime scene. Specifically, Manuela appears to glance directly into the camera and is thereby briefly rendered capable of entering the voyeur’s realm (Figure 1.13). While Manuela’s fleeting glance at the camera does not have the capacity to cause spectators to permanently lose their ultimately voyeuristic subject-positions as watchers, it does highlight 52 Marks, Laura U. Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota University Press, 2002, 3. 53 Elsaesser, Thomas and Hagener, Malte. Film Theory: An Introduction Through the Senses. New York and London: Routledge, 2010, 86. 54 Ibid, 2010, 86, 85, 84. 42 the potential of the looker to become the looked-at. Moreover, the glance itself as a means of looking is significant because “the notion of the glance suggests a way of inhabiting the image without identifying [entirely] with a position of mastery.”55 Moreover, the fleeting nature of this exchange suggests movement, indicating that the boundaries between gazer/subject and gazed upon/object are dynamic and have the potential to flow into one another. Furthermore, because Manuela’s glance indicates the gazed upon/object’s capacity to actually occupy the space of the gazer/subject, and vice-versa, Manuela might be perceived as having entered, in this moment, into a critical mimetic exchange with the film’s spectators. This exchange effectively ‘undoes’ the power of the distanced voyeur by imitating its very ontological position. For a moment Manuela becomes a “critical mime,” because she “inhabits—indeed penetrates, occupies, and redeploys” the disembodied and distanced nature of voyeurism by entering into an affinity with it.56 This momentary ‘affinity’ between looker and image suggests an extreme (although fleeting) closeness between the two, the result of which is that “the viewer gives up her own sense of separateness from the image.”57 55 Marks, Laura U. Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota University Press, 2002, 6. 56 Butler, Judith. Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’. New York and London: Routledge, 1993, 47, 45. 57 Marks, Laura U. Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota University Press, 2002, 13. 43 Figure 1.13: Manuela looks directly into the camera. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform58 1.4 Conclusion to Chapter 1 In conclusion, I have performed a close reading of the opening and bedtime scenes in Leontine Sagan’s Mädchen in Uniform through the prism of the haptic and feminist theories of embodiment. To demonstrate the role of tactility in establishing moments of intersubjectivity between otherwise separate beings, I explored how Sagan’s juxtaposition of static male imagery in the opening montage with the dynamic and erotic ‘incomplete’ imagery of the girls’ legs connotes, even requires, a caressing or haptic gaze which ultimately suspends the hierarchal relationship between looker and image. In my exploration of the bedtime scene, I suggest that the act of touch, as represented by the kiss works to temporarily disrupt the borders between Self and Other. Consequently, the kiss, which should be seen as the pivotal erotic moment in this film, signifies a moment wherein the impartation of knowledge—namely, the romantic desire between Bernburg and Manuela have for one another—is rendered possible. For these 58 “Manuela Looks Into the Camera.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 44 reasons, I conceive Sagan’s cinematic style to be ultimately haptic in nature, as it can be seen to privilege sensations of touch over that of vision or, at the very least, a dialectical relationship between the two. As a result, Mädchen in Uniform should be seen as a film that places tactility at its centre, not only between onscreen imagery but, importantly, between viewers and film image. By emphasizing the importance of contact, this film suggests the possibility of disrupting tradition dichotomous pairs (subject/object, Self/Other) in favour of dynamic intersubjectivity. 45 Chapter 2: The Facial Superimpositions- Establishing an Affinity 2.1 Introduction to Chapter 2 In “Chapter 1: Haptic Conveyances- The Body” I discussed the epistemological and by extension phenomenological role played by corporeal haptic encounters in Mädchen in Uniform. I have understood these encounters as intersubjective and multisensory experiences occurring between, firstly, viewer and film or film image and, secondly, between onscreen characters. I carried out my analysis microcosmically by performing a close reading of the opening and bedtime scenes using cinematic theories of the haptic and feminist philosophies of embodiment. In keeping with my central theme of exploring contact and intersubjectivity in Mädchen in Uniform, I will now turn to the two prominent instances facial superimpositions between Manuela and Bernburg in this film. My goal is to examine the facial superimpositions in order to move outward from the diegetic universe of Mädchen in Uniform to broadly implicate this film in a German historical and philosophical context.1 By providing a context for Mädchen in Uniform, I will demonstrate that the face and/or the facial superimpositions should be understood as readable, profound, and revelatory surfaces by which the innermost contents of the subject’s mind (or soul) are rendered visible. Conceived in this way, the surface of the face should be seen as an anti-dualistic force that is indicative of this film’s wider anti-hierarchal stance, which will be explored further in Chapter 3. My analysis of the facial superimpositions will be carried out as follows. Firstly, I will provide a description of the facial superimpositions and indicate where they occur in the film. Secondly, I will endeavour to situate the face and its status as a surface within a Weimar-German context. To do this, I engage in a 1 As Rich reminds us, this is not a film without a context: “If we are to understand Maedchen in Uniform fully, then it is important to keep in view the society in which it was made.” Rich, Ruby B. “From Oppressive Tolerance to Erotic Liberation: Maedchen in Uniform.” In Rich, Ruby B. Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1998, 179. 46 reading of the significance of the surface in a post-WWI context marked by a certain revaluation of values and sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld’s categorization and classification of the so-called ‘third sex.’ Then, lastly, I endeavour to understand the facial superimposition’s revelatory qualities through the film’s deep and fundamental connection to assessments of the human form stemming from eighteenth century theories of physiognomy. This will be undertaken by examining the facial superimposition in conjunction with the close-up in relation to film theorist Béla Balázs and physiognomist Johann Caspar Lavater. 2.2 The Classroom Scene and The Rescue Scene The first onset of the facial superimposition occurs after a teachers’ conference in which Bernburg faces criticism due to Manuela’s poor performance in her classes, and for her suggestion that pupils should share a connection with and trust their instructors.2 After stating her belief in the importance of trust, the screen fades to black; then, an image of the girls waiting in a classroom for Bernburg’s arrival is depicted. Bernburg, who sits down at her desk, begins teaching her lesson, which requires the girls to recite verbatim various lines, in front of the class, from a biblical parable or hymn. The girls’ success or failure in this lesson is measured by their ability or inability to recite these lines. When an off-screen Bernburg asks her pupil Edelgard (Annemarie von Rochhausen) to recite the first verse of the baroque hymn “O dass ich tausend Zugen hätte,” viewers see a softy-smiling Manuela staring intensely in Bernburg’s direction (Figure 2.1).3 As Edelgard stands up and begins reciting her lines, Manuela continues to gaze at Bernburg; the camera then cuts abruptly to an image of Bernburg’s face in medium close-up (Figure 2.2). Bernburg’s expression is remarkably similar to Manuela’s—both women gaze softly, wide-eyed, and not 2 “Die Kinder mussen uns vertrauen!” Mentzer, Johann. “ O dass ich tausend Zungen hätte.” 1704. Hymnary.org. n.d. Calvin College. June 2013 http://www.virtuallybaroque.com/trak1012.htm. 3 47 blinking, which evokes a loving impression of emotional intensity existing between them. With the exception of the moment when Bernburg enters the classroom and nearly all the girls are visible onscreen, including Manuela at the far left, it should be noted that Bernburg and Manuela do not otherwise appear together on camera in this scene. Nevertheless, by virtue of the camera angle and because the women’s eyes are focused on opposite sides of the screen whenever their faces are shown, their connection is cinematically established. Seen in this way, Sagan depicts the women’s connectivity in this moment as being exclusive to one another. Their ‘togetherness’ or affinity is a moment of intensity occurring exclusively between them. Figure 2.1: Edelgard (standing) begins speaking as Manuela (right) stares. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform4 4 “Edelgard Speaking.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 48 Figure 2.2: Bernburg’s face in medium close-up. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform5 Edelgard continues speaking; then suddenly, Manuela’s face—in extreme close-up—is delicately superimposed over Bernburg’s and, in a dissolve, replaces it entirely (Figures 2.3 and 2.4). The extreme close-up of Manuela’s face renders it twice the size of Bernburg’s and the obvious focus is on Manuela’s eyes, which dominate the screen. After this, the camera cuts to Bernburg who appears disturbed, and who moves her eyes nervously to the right of the screen, seemingly in a gesture of avoidance. Nevertheless, she does not completely stop looking in Manuela’s direction. Although this time without the use of the superimposition, the camera cuts again to an image of Manuela’s face in extreme close-up. It is the same image as was superimposed over Bernburg’s face originally, only greater in size and depicting the face as more centered on camera (Figure 2.5). Once again, there is a cut back to Bernburg’s face which again appears unnerved; her eyes dart 5 “Bernburg’s Face in Medium Close-up.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 49 back and forth, eventually resting on the right of the screen, until they shift to screen left, appearing to meet Manuela’s off screen gaze (Figure 2.6). After Edelgard concludes, the camera once again cuts back to a shot of the girls sitting, with Manuela still gazing to the left of the screen at Bernburg. Bernburg then calls Manuela by her name, which disrupts her stare and she jerkily stands. Bernburg then asks Manuela to recite the second verse of the same hymn but, despite having memorized it, cannot remember her lines. Bernburg then approaches Manuela, disappointedly states that she is unprepared again, and the scene fades out.6 Figure 2.3: Extreme close-up of Manuela’s face. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform7 6 “Wieder nicht gelernt.” “Manuela’s Face in Extreme Close-up.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 7 50 Figure 2.4: Manuela’s face superimposed over Bernburg’s. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform8 8 “Manuela’s Face Superimposed Over Bernburg’s.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 51 Figure 2.5: The second extreme close-up of Manuela’s face. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform9 9 “Second Extreme Close-up of Manuela’s Face.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 52 Figure 2.6: Bernburg looking nervous after the superimposition. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform10 The second facial superimposition occurs shortly after an intoxicated Manuela proclaims her love for Bernburg publicly and directly preceding Manuela’s suicide attempt. After Manuela’s public declaration of love, she is shamed by the Headmistress, refused contact with Bernburg and her friends, and placed in strict isolation so as presumably not to ‘infect’ the other girls with her disobedience. Despite the best efforts of the girls and Bernburg to defend Manuela’s character and protect her from her punishment, her almost complete isolation—especially from Bernburg—causes her to fall into a deep depression. After unsuccessfully attempting to defend Manuela to the Headmistress, and despite being forbidden to do so, Bernburg sneaks Manuela into her office in order to speak with her. When Bernburg answers ‘no’ after Manuela asks if they will be able to see one another, Manuela states that she will not be capable of 10 “Bernburg Looks Nervous.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 53 surviving it.11 Bernburg responds somewhat panicked, stating that Manuela must simply be ‘cured’ of her romantic feelings, which Manuela does not see as problematic.12 Manuela then decides to take her leave of Bernburg, bidding her a final farewell.13 Clearly unconvinced by her own speech, after Manuela’s exit Bernburg runs after her and frantically shouts, “Manuela!” Instead of Manuela, the Headmistress is outside the door and, hearing Bernburg call Manuela’s name, begins to harangue Bernburg for speaking to Manuela. (Figure 2.7). Figure 2.7: Bernburg comes face-to-face with the Headmistress. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform14 11 Manuela: “Werde ich…werde ich Sie besuchen dürfen?” Bernburg: “Das nicht, Manuela.” Manuela: “Aber…aber Sie werden mich doch nicht verlassen?” Bernburg: “Es ist besser für dich.” Manuela: “Ich soll Sie niemals wiedersehen? [...] Das überlebe ich nicht!” 12 “Geheilt” 13 “Adieu, liebes Fräulein von Bernburg.” 14 “Bernburg Faces the Headmistress.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 54 As the conversation between Bernburg and the Headmistress is taking place, the school authorities and the other girls realize that they cannot find Manuela, who is slowly climbing the school’s large staircase. The girls become frantic and, mobilized, begin running throughout the school shouting Manuela’s name in an effort to locate her. The camera cuts continuously from the girls searching for Manuela and the conversation between the Headmistress and Bernburg, during which Bernburg states that she will no longer stand for the school’s authoritarianism and injustice. Here, a double rebellion against the school’s rules occurs—the girls and Bernburg are simultaneously refusing to obey the Headmistress’ wish to punish Manuela via isolation. Then suddenly, the audience sees Bernburg, with her back to the Headmistress, in obvious distress: her hands are up against her face, and her eyes are wide and unfocused (Figure 2.8). The camera cuts to close-up of Manuela’s face (Figure 2.9), upon which Bernburg’s face is, once again, delicately superimposed (Figure 2.10). Interestingly, in the former dissolve Manuela’s face is superimposed over Bernburg’s, making the two instances of the superimpositions complementary. Then, the audience sees Bernburg again with her hands against her face and she shouts, “Manuela!”, and runs from the room. Bernburg and the girls are rightly concerned: Manuela has positioned herself at the top of the school’s staircase, about to leap to her death. However, the girls and Bernburg run to her aid and quickly pull her to safety, preventing her suicide. 55 Figure 2.8: Bernburg’s obvious emotional disturbance. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform15 15 “Bernburg’s Emotional Disturbance.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 56 Figure 2.9: Final close-up of Manuela’s face. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform16 16 “Final Close-up of Manuela’s Face.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 57 Figure 2.10: Second Image of Manuela and Bernburg’s superimposed faces. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform17 2.3 The Facial Superimpositions The two incidences of the facial superimposition should be interpreted as visually signifying a dynamic affinity and/or interactivity between Bernburg and Manuela. There is a communication which takes place, purely on a visual plane, of the romantic desire and profound connection between the two women. Therefore, the facial superimposition should be read as a moment of mental/spiritual contact between two individuals that has been rendered filmic. Going further, we could say that the superimposition, as a cinematic technique, serves to literalize the mental and emotional interconnectivity occurring between Bernburg and Manuela by rendering it visible. I suggest that Sagan uses the facial superimposition—and, by extension, the surface of the face—to connote a sense of other-worldly, even quasi-impossible, connection or contact between two 17 “Second Image of Manuela and Bernburg’s Superimposed Faces.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 58 otherwise separate subjectivities or beings. The literalized representation of their interconnectivity via the facial superimposition functions to suggest that the interiority of the two women, which is their desire for one another, can actually be witnessed on their faces. The invisible contents of the mind’s interiority are thereby made visible on the surface of the face. Here, a double and simultaneous interconnectivity takes place: firstly, between Bernburg and Manuela and, secondly, between the surface of the body and the interior of the mind. The emotional connection between the two women, represented by the superimposed or dissolved images, is so overwhelming that it is accompanied by some form of disruption of thought or action. In the first instance, Manuela, despite having memorized the hymn suddenly forgets it and, in the second instance, Bernburg is no longer able to concentrate on what the Headmistress is saying and is compelled to run out of her office. This emotional disruption, I would suggest, is related to the intensity of the feelings Bernburg and Manuela harbour for one another. Indeed, the intensity of their emotional connection is consistently emphasized throughout the film and is usually signified by some form or suggestion of physical contact; for example, the kiss, embraces, and looks they share between them. Thus, by employing the facial superimpositions in Mädchen in Uniform, Sagan cinematically illustrates the romantic connection and desire shared by the two women, but this statement does not go far enough. To reiterate, the facial superimposition should be seen as a particular mode of visual representation by which the innermost feelings of the two women are rendered cinematically visible and therefore literally perceivable. Thus, the superimpositions should be understood as cinematic occurrences by which an individual’s inner self, which in the case of Mädchen in Uniform are feelings of desire, is conveyed. The emotions of the two women ‘come out’ (as it were), thereby becoming visible on the faces of the two women. In this sense, the facial superimposition functions similarly to touch or contact within the diegetic film universe of Mädchen in Uniform. That is, 59 it disrupts traditional epistemological dualism which separates mind from body, Self from Other, and subject from object. This separation privileges the mind, Self, and subject over the body, Other, and object. Dualism is dependent on hierarchal paradigms and, as feminist philosopher Elizabeth Grosz attests, is ultimately “the belief that there are two mutually exclusive types of ‘thing,’ physical and mental, body and mind.”18 However, why do the faces of the two women become the surfaces whereupon this anti-dualistic moment of interconnectivity is signified and, moreover, rendered visible? In order to attempt to answer this question, I suggest that the facial superimpositions should be analyzed through the prism of how the face, and the face as a surface, was conceived in Weimar and eighteenth-century German contexts. Mädchen in Uniform should not be seen entirely apart from the interwar context in which it was made. As Richard W. McCormick points out, Mädchen in Uniform “is a film that is implicated within a number of progressive and emancipatory discourses of the late Weimar Republic: the movement for homosexual rights and the flourishing of urban, queer subcultures; “New Objectivity” and other avant-garde tendencies in the arts and popular culture; and the intersection of modernity, the movies, and democratic egalitarianism.”19 With this in mind, it is of particular importance to understand how Mädchen in Uniform’s subject matter is related to an atmosphere of post/interwar ‘revaluation.’ As David C. Durst points out, “a veritable Nietzschean Umwertung aller Werte [revaluation of all values] engulfed German society, leaving no facet 18 Grosz, Elizabeth. Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, vii. 19 McCormick, Richard W. Gender and Sexuality in Weimar Modernity: Film, Literature and “New Objectivity.” New York: Palgrave, 2001, 147. “New Objectivity” (German: “Neue Sachlichkeit”), also sometimes called “New Sobriety,” is a somewhat difficult term to define. Rather broadly, it refers to a particular post-Expressionist and ‘disillusioned’ avant-garde aesthetic associated with the stabilized (approximately onwards from 1924) Weimar Republic. For an excellent definition of “New Objectivity” and its aesthetic role in Weimar Germany, see: McCormick, Richard W. “Private Anxieties/Public Projections: “New Objectivity,” Male Subjectivity, and Weimar Cinema.” Women in German Yearbook 10 (1994): 1-18. 60 of life immune to change.”20 Thus, after Imperial Germany’s defeat in the First World War and the establishment of the Weimar Republic in 1919,21 the postwar reality of extreme poverty, the uncertainty and terror ensuing from (hyper)inflation, and the horrific visibility of psychologically and/or physically war-maimed individuals had a profound impact on the entire way of life during this period.22 Even after the stabilizing Dawes Plan (1924) and the onset of the socalled ‘Golden Twenties,’ which is the period in which Mädchen in Uniform was filmed, the overall atmosphere of postwar Germany acted as a catalyst for massive social disillusionment and a longing for change. As a result, a profound “sense of transitoriness” and disillusionment seemed to permeate Weimar German society.23 It follows, then, that this so-called ‘revaluation of values’ included a reassessment of sexuality and, indeed, of heterosexuality. Certainly, in reference to the ‘revaluation’ of (hetero)sexuality that I am discussing, I cannot do justice here to any detailed examination of the sociopolitical anxieties surrounding the so-called ‘New Woman’ or the postwar masculinity-crisis, both of which are well-documented fixtures of Weimar 20 Durst, David C. Weimar Modernism: Philosophy, Politics and Culture in Germany 1918-1933. Maryland: Lexington Books, 2004, 82. 21 The Weimar Republic’s constitution was drafted in Weimar in 1918 and put into effect a year later. McCormick, Richard W. Gender and Sexuality in Weimar Modernity: Film, Literature and “New Objectivity”. New York: Palgrave, 2001, 3. 22 Durst, David C. Weimar Modernism: Philosophy, Politics and Culture in Germany 1918-1933. Maryland: Lexington Books, 2004, 82 and Gordon, Mel. Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin. Port Townsend: Feral House, 2006, 19, 20. 23 Eksteins, Modris. Rites of Spring. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1989, 258-259. A wonderful literary example of this postwar sense of transition and/or loss is Klaus Mann’s 1925 novel The Pious Dance (Der Fromme Tanz) which centres on Berlin’s youthful queer scene. As James Robert Keller writes, while “the previous generation had experienced the First World War as adults and bore responsibility for it, Mann’s generation only knew its [social, political, and economic] after-effects.” In his foreword, Mann writes that his novel comes from a distinctly postwar perspective, and is “one which issues from our younger generation and ants to be nothing more than an interpretation, expression, description and confession of that younger generation, its urgency, its perplexity—and perhaps its high hopes.” Keller, James Robert. The Role of Political and Sexual Identity in the Works of Klaus Mann. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2001, 13 and Mann, Klaus. The Pious Dance: The Adventure Story of a Young Man. New York: PAJ Publications, 1987, 27. 61 Germany.24 Moreover, it would be superficial to suggest that Weimar culture as a whole was characterized by a promotion of total sexual emancipation or veneration of queer love. However, it is important to emphasize that representations of desire between women in Mädchen in Uniform unfold in an entirely different fashion than those depicting heterosexual relationships. Returning to the facial superimpositions, and I have already indicated, both occurrences signify a profound and romantic emotional connection between Bernburg and Manuela. Additionally, the way in which their connectivity is signified should be understood as dynamic; thus, the facial superimposition should be seen as a cinematic technique that depicts movement in order to signify a connection between individuals. What I mean by this is that in both instances, the dissolve that momentarily superimposes Manuela’s face over Bernburg’s appears as a literal movement of Manuela’s face into, out of, and through Bernburg’s and, indeed, vice versa. I say ‘vice versa’ because, by virtue of the superimposition, the otherwise separate images of the women’s faces appear to ‘touch’ one another. This, as per my discussion in Chapter 1 of haptic contact, serves to connote a sense of reciprocity. Consequently, in these moments Manuela’s face touches Bernburg’s as much as Bernburg’s face touches Manuela’s. With the Weimar-context of ‘revaluation’ in mind, a comparison between these two dynamic visual representations of connectivity between women with 24 As McCormick and Ingrid Sharp have noted, postwar Germany was characterized by a crisis in masculinity stemming from the traumatic loss (and affects thereof) of the First World War; and, furthermore, by the ‘fear’ of the so-called (and difficult to define) ‘New Woman,’ characterized as a sexually/politically/financially emancipated female figure posing extreme danger to Germany’s social order. Additionally, the postwar crisis in masculinity is generally discussed in reference to the social ‘trauma’ inflicted on masculinity and masculine virility as a result of the loss of the First World War and its horrific after-effects. See: McCormick, Richard W. Gender and Sexuality in Weimar Modernity: Film, Literature and “New Objectivity”. New York: Palgrave, 2001, 3 and Sharp, Ingrid. “Gender Relations in Weimar Berlin.” In Practicing Modernity: Female Creativity in the Weimar Republic. Eds., Christiane Schönfeld and Carmel Finnan. Würzburg: Königshausen and Neumann GmbH, 2006, 2-3; and McCormick, Richard W. McCormick, Richard W. Gender and Sexuality in Weimar Modernity: Film, Literature and “New Objectivity”. New York: Palgrave, 2001, 59. 62 those between men is warranted. For instance, take the scene in which Manuela is brought by Marga (Ilse Winter) into the locker room to be introduced to the other girls. Manuela is then called over to see Ilse’s (Ellen Schwannecke) locker, in order to view her quasi-shrine to German actor Hans Albers (Figure 2.11). Hidden underneath a larger piece of paper, Ilse has attached dozens of Albers’ photographs to the inside of her locker door. The centre of the shrine is a large cut-out of Albers’ face, around which she has images of him in various film roles and costumes. Kneeling in front of a standing Manuela, who politely leans in to take a closer look at the photographs, Ilse points out that she has chosen to keep Albers in her locker because he has such “sex appeal”—a term which of which she is reminded by her friend. The friend is huddled together, and pictured in close-up, with another girl looking at a magazine, in which a tiny picture of a scantily-clad muscular man is visible at the left-hand corner of the screen (Figure 2.12). The image of the man is dwarfed by the faces if the two girls, who dominate the right-hand side and middle of the screen. After “sex appeal” is uttered, the two girls giggle and turn to one another, their faces so close that their noses almost touch. These girls are frequently depicted in the film together, talking quietly with their shoulders close together, or with their arms around one another. In the same sequence, directly after Ilse’s shrine and the magazine-image are depicted, Marga begins categorically rifling through Manuela’s belongings in order to rid her of everything ‘forbidden.’ Manuela’s book is then discovered, which she states that she took from her Uncle’s bookshelf for the journey, but never read. Ilse takes the book and opens it, seemingly at random, to an illustration of a man violently accosting a woman in what appears to be a bedroom, and which the camera shows in close-up (Figure 2.13). 63 Figure 2.11: Ilse (left) shows off her shrine of Hans Albers to Manuela. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform25 25 “Ilse’s Shrine.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 64 Figure 2.12: Girls in close-up looking at male figure in a magazine. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform26 26 “Girls Looking at Magazine.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 65 Figure 2.13: Book-image of a man assaulting his (presumed) wife. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform27 To reiterate, the superimposed images of Bernburg and Manuela’s faces signify a loving and dynamic romantic connection; it is therefore interesting to compare these to imagery showing either men or men interacting with women. Unlike the superimposed faces of Manuela and Bernburg, the images of Albers and the scantily-clad man in the magazine are photographs and depicted as such. These images are therefore not only static, but their boundaries are clear—they do not move, and they have clear borders which are visible on screen. Additionally, the way in which the images of the men are depicted in reference to the girls’ environment connotes a sense of separateness from the girls’ world because there is never any true ‘interaction’ with the males present in the atmosphere of the school. For example, the shrine to Albers is both carefully tucked away under a large sheet of paper and inside Ilse’s locker. Similarly, the man in the magazine is 27 “Image of Man Assaulting his Wife.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 66 not only hidden inside of it, but is relegated to the far corner of the screen and depicted as extremely tiny, particularly when compared to the girls in close up. Consequently, there does not appear to be any immediacy that might be associated with these images; they are something of a joke, to be laughed at, and to enjoy on a very superficial level. The image in the book, which suggests a similar sense of stasis and apartness by its status as a still image and being located inside a book, actually shocks the girls. When they see it, their mouths are open and they stare intently at the violence perpetrated by the man against a woman who appears to be his wife.28 Coming back to my effort to explore Mädchen in Uniform in a Weimarcontext, it is also pertinent to emphasize that cinema was not the only artistic medium coming out of the Weimar Republic to contrast heterosexual and queer imagery in what I have suggested is a paradigm of ‘revaluation.’ As a case in point, Weimar-artist and illustrator Jeanne Mammen’s varied depictions of lesbian couples might be read as part of this postwar mentality of disillusionment and, most importantly, of revaluation.29 As Annelie Lütgens points out, in Mammen’s artistic renditions of urban heterosexual couples, she “depicted the hunger for money and the representation of status symbols as a particular aspect of the relationship between man and woman…[she] shows people desperately clinging to each other in an effort to save themselves from ‘going to the dogs.’ Communication, understanding, tenderness, not to mention partnership, are completely absent. These are things which Mammen reserves for relationships between women.”30 For example, in her famous watercolour entitled “She 28 The couple are shown inside of what seems to be a bedroom; there is a bed shown at the right of the image, and a child’s cradle visible at the left hand corner of the image. 29 Jeanne Mammen was a French-German visual artist famous for her depictions of the urban underworld in Berlin during the Weimar Republic, and is especially remembered for her representations of queer women. Lütgens, Annelie. “The Conspiracy of Women: Images and City Life in the Work of Jeanne Mammen.” In Women in the Metropolis: Gender and Modernity in Weimar Culture. Ed. Katharina von Ankum. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997, 89-105. 30 Ibid, 1997, 97. 67 Represents” (1928), Mammen depicts two women, appearing to be a couple, as they celebrate inside what appears to be a queer nightspot.31 The women are smiling, the touch shared between them is tender, and the atmosphere appears to be relaxed, comfortable, and welcoming. Again, through the cinematic technique of the facial superimposition, Mädchen in Uniform connotes the desire between Bernburg and Manuela via the surface of their faces. This endowment of the corporeal surface with the capability to ‘show’ a subject’s interiority might also be discussed in connection with Weimar-era sexology. Weimar sexologists and sexual scientists sought to explain, identify, and classify non-heteronormative sexual identities and behaviours primarily by analyzing the surfaces of bodies. Although his work began years before the establishment of the Weimar Republic, public images of gay men and lesbians during this period were usually modeled after prominent sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld’s notion of a so-called ‘third sex.’ Generally, the third sex was “a category said to describe individuals whose sexual make-up falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of “male” and “female.”32 In this sense, Hirschfeld’s third sex theory stipulated that queer men and women existed between ‘man’ and ‘woman,’ as said individuals were conceived of as demonstrating physical and psychological characteristics of both sexes. Especially fascinating in the context of this discussion is Hirschfeld’s tendency to use and study photographic imagery as evidence to bolster his theories, which he published in various works and allowed to be shown in films so as to educate the wider public about the existence, reality, and plight of third sex. Hirschfeld’s work rallied around his efforts to perpetuate the third sex as an innate 31 This image is referred to by a number of different names including “Masked Ball” and “Carnival Scene.” Heywood, Sophie. “Re-setting the Agenda: Jeanne Mammen’s repossession of female agency and subjectivity.” PhD dissertation, University of Bristol, Department of Historical Studies, 2012, 3. 32 Matysik, Tracie. “In the Name of the Law: The “Female Homosexual” and the Criminal Code in Fin de Siècle Germany.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 13.1 (January 2004), 31. 68 sexual category, and “thus neither pathological nor criminal, neither immoral nor sinful,” in order to aid in the abolishment of Paragraph 175 of the Criminal Code that made sexual activity between men illegal.33 In his well-known article “Less and More Than Women and Men: Lesbian and Gay Cinema in Weimar Germany,” Richard Dyer explores a photographic sequence Hirschfeld published in 1903 which, for the purposes of this discussion, deserves to be quoted at length: “[depicted was] a very muscular youth holding a large fig leaf over his genitals represents the heterosexual body type; a woman standing so as to accentuate the generous curve of her hips...represents the heterosexual female body type; while the…third sex body is represented by a flat-chested figure wearing a scarf over its head and a veil across its face, standing so that its hip is less curved than the female type but still more pronounced that the male type.”34 This description reveals Hirschfeld’s effort to explore third sex individuals by examining their corporeality and comparing them to other bodies. The conclusion, it would seem, is an essentialist conception that places androgynous physical characteristics at the centre of how, exactly, third sex men and women appeared. This conclusion, however, is based on the examination, even ‘reading,’ of physical characteristics. Third sex individuals, then, were seen to have had visual signifiers, located on their bodies, which identified them as such. This can also be seen in the famous enlightenment film Anders als die Andern (1919), the conception and development of which Hirschfeld was closely associated, wherein androgynous—so, third sex—corporeal signifiers serve to identify queer individuals, sometimes exclusively. Directed by Richard Oswald and released in 1919, the goal of Anders als die Andern was to reveal the evils of 33 Schoppmann, Claudia. Days of Masquerade: Life Stories of Lesbians During the Third Reich. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996, 4, and Fenmore, Mark. “The Recent Historiography of Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Germany.” The Historical Journal 52.3 (2009), 764. 34 Dyer, Richard D. “Less and More Than Women and Men: Lesbian and Gay Cinema in Weimar Germany.” New German Critique 51 Special Issue on Weimar Mass Culture (Autumn 1990), 1920. 69 Paragraph 175 by emphasizing its encouragement of blackmail.35 The story focuses on Paul Kröner (Conrad Veidt), a queer concert violinist who falls in love with his pupil, Kurt Sivers (Fritz Schulz). As a result of their romantic liaisons Paul is blackmailed and, when he takes the perpetrator to court in an effort to seek justice, receives instead a prison sentence for violating Paragraph 175. Although permitted to return home before his sentence begins, he is shunned on the street and fired from his job. Consequently, Paul succumbs to depression and takes his own life. While the story itself is a fascinating example of efforts during the Weimar Republic to condemn the unjust criminalization of sexual acts between consenting adult men, the depiction of the third sex individuals in the film are of particular interest to this discussion. Appearing in the film himself as a lecturer and third sex expert, Hirschfeld is depicted showing photographs of butch lesbians and effeminate gay men, who are described as men with female characteristics and women with male characteristics (Figures 2.14 and 2.15). Moreover, the film’s visual representation of its queer characters is distinctly ‘third sex’ or androgynous. Paul’s clothing and gestures are notably feminine, and when Kurt and Paul attend a gathering where other queer individuals are present, highly androgynous lesbian couples are featured in the background, dancing with one another (Figure 2.16). Of course, Hirschfeld’s theories did not invent this androgynous style; the butch lesbian and effeminate gay man certainly existed. However, what I am trying to suggest is that representations of third sex intermediate ‘types’ identified gay men or lesbians by using physical signifiers to determine same-sex sexual attractions. In this sense, it is the surface of the body 35 Anders als die Andern was a so-called ‘enlightenment film.’ Enlightenment films were often controversial. These films were mostly produced and released before the return of film censorship in the Weimar Republic, after which Anders als die Andern was banned for obscenity. Dyer, Richard D. “Less and More Than Women and Men: Lesbian and Gay Cinema in Weimar Germany.” New German Critique 51 Special Issue on Weimar Mass Culture (Autumn 1990), 1920, and Steakley, James D. “Cinema and Censorship in the Weimar Republic: The Case of Anders als Die Andern.” Film History 11.2 (1999), 189-191, 188. 70 which connotes an individual’s interiority; that is, their emotions and/or desire for members of the same sex. Figure 2.14: A Third-sex woman with ‘masculine’ physical traits. Screenshot: Anders als die Andern36 36 “‘Masculine’ Woman.” Anders als die Andern. Dir. Richard Oswald. Perf. Conrad Veidt, Fritz Schultz, Magnus Hirschfeld. Screenplay Magnus Hirschfeld and Richard Oswald. Reconstruction: Filmmuseum München, 1919. DVD 2004. Author’s Screenshot. 71 Figure 2.15: Individual with ‘a female upper body’ and ‘male lower body.’ Screenshot: Anders als die Andern37 Figure 2.16: In the background, androgynous lesbian couples are dancing. Screenshot: Anders als die Andern38 37 “Intersex Individual.” Anders als die Andern. Dir. Richard Oswald. Perf. Conrad Veidt, Fritz Schultz, Magnus Hirschfeld. Screenplay Magnus Hirschfeld and Richard Oswald. Reconstruction: Filmmuseum München, 1919. DVD 2004. Author’s Screenshot. 72 Of course, it is important to point out that Hirschfeld and his contemporaries mainly approached corporeality from a medical and scientific perspective, by which they sought to uncover and examine innate physical characteristics in order to explain certain behaviours via essentialism. I am not suggesting that Manuela or Bernburg exhibit particular corporeal signifiers which mark them as lesbians. However, I am arguing that the same-sex desire and love between Manuela and Bernburg is signified by Sagan via her depiction of their bodies onscreen. Using the dissolve and the facial superimposition, Sagan codifies the surface of the face as the means by which the women’s same-sex desire is communicated to one another and, furthermore, to the audience. While both Sagan in Mädchen in Uniform and Weimar-era sexologists might be construed as having ‘read’ corporeality as a means by which an individual’s interior informs his or her exterior, their respective understandings of how this functions is somewhat different. Sagan’s use of the facial superimposition should be conceived of as a kind of spiritual, not scientific, physiognomy, as it is employed a means of “aesthetic signification,” stemming from eighteenth-century physiognomic thought, seeking to interpret “the mysterious inner world through bodily signs.”39 Therefore, Sagan’s utilization of the facial superimposition cannot be conceived as purely ‘scientific’ because it is dependent upon a fleeting moment wherein desire becomes evident on the surface of the face, as opposed to a focus on innate and unchanging physical characteristics. In a Weimar context the corporeal surface should ultimately be understood as a privileged site of information. I propose that the corporeal surface was codified as revelatory because of its conceptualization as having the capacity to render the interiority of a subject visible on the surface of the body. As a result, if 38 “Queer Gathering.” Anders als die Andern. Dir. Richard Oswald. Perf. Conrad Veidt, Fritz Schultz, Magnus Hirschfeld. Screenplay Magnus Hirschfeld and Richard Oswald. Reconstruction: Filmmuseum München, 1919. DVD 2004. Author’s Screenshot. 39 Gunning, Tom. “In Your Face: Physiognomy, Photography, and the Gnostic Mission of Early Film.” Modernism/Modernity 4.1 (1997), 3,4. 73 the corporeal surface has the ability to reveal, it should therefore be understood as being profound, not superficial. This is indeed a paradoxical concept. How, exactly, might a surface be conceived as other than superficial? I will attempt to show that the revelatory and therefore profound quality of the surface, especially the surface of the face, is intrinsically related to its capability to reveal the mind and/or soul. More specifically, the surface of the face becomes the means by which the interiority—so, the depth of an individual—is connoted. To explore the revelatory and/or profound quality of the facial surface in Mädchen in Uniform and its ability to show the mind and/or soul more closely, I will turn now to an exploration of the facial superimpositions through the prism of the work of Weimar cinema theorist Béla Balázs. Balázs, who is remembered primarily for his aesthetic theories of the close-up in silent film, was concerned with and fascinated by what he perceived to be the inherently revelatory quality of cinema technology’s representations of human corporeality. Balázs understood the cinematic technique of the close-up and the role of the face in cinema as a means by which an individual’s innermost thoughts and/or emotions—that is, their soul—was revealed to cinema audiences.40 In order to comprehend this so-called ‘revelatory’ quality of the (sur)face, we must inquire as to how, exactly, the surface of the face can be codified both by Balázs and within the diegetic world of Mädchen in Uniform as the site upon which the ‘soul’ reveals itself. In his book The Visible Man (1924), Balázs seeks to tease out an aesthetic cinematic theory that conceptualizes film as a 40 To modern readers, it is sometimes difficult to take Balázs’ extremely poetic writing style and overall aesthetic perception seriously, especially with regards to his constant references to the ‘soul’ as being revealed via the faces of actors and actresses who, obviously, have been hired to play a role in a film. Nevertheless, his aesthetic theory is fascinating in its attempt to discuss and thereby discover the result of (new) filmic technology with regards to its depiction of the human body and explore not only what is revealed to audiences as a result, but also what is at stake in this revelation. Also, Balázs’ use of the word ‘soul’ is problematic for obvious reasons; nevertheless, I would suggest that, to get around its clear religious connotations, the ‘soul’ should be taken as a term employed to refer to the interior, or unseen, aspects of an individual. Hake, Sabine. The Cinema’s Third Machine: Writing on Film in Germany, 1907-1933. Lincoln: The University of Nebraska Press, 1993, 224-225. 74 “fundamentally new revelation of humanity.”41 In his understanding, any aesthetic theory is a mere attempt to joyfully experience “the hidden product of an inner life.”42 Indeed, as “the popular art of our century,” Balázs makes certain to emphasize that cinema’s ability to connote interiority should be viewed “not…in the sense that it [film] arises from the spirit of the people, but in the sense that it is out of film that the spirit of the people arises.”43 With film conceived as a new, relevant, and ultimately revolutionary art form at the centre of his aesthetic theory, Balázs emphasizes the importance of a theoretical focus on cinema by perceiving cinema and cinematic techniques as the means by which an important shift occurs from the written word to the image or, more specifically, the gesture. He states that, as a result of printing and the ensuing societal focus on the written word, human expression has been relegated to the realm of writing.44 As a result, Balázs affirms that man’s “visual spirit was transformed into a legible spirit, and a visual culture was changed into a conceptual one. It is universally acknowledged that this change has radically altered the face of life in general.”45 More specifically, Balázs cites the appearance of the printing press as the locatable historical moment causing man’s over-dependency on the written word. As a result of this shift, “the word has become the principal bridge joining human beings to one another. The soul has migrated to the word and become crystalized there. The body, however, has been stripped of the soul and emptied.”46 While no less radical than the onset of the printing press in terms of its socio-cultural effects, film’s expressivity of human emotion is centred on bodily movement and gesticulation.47, Balázs, therefore, understands film as a 41 Balázs, Béla. “The Visible Man.” In Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory: Visible Man and The Spirit of Film. Ed. Erica Carter. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2010, 5. 42 Ibid, 2010, 7. 43 Ibid, 2010, 4. Emphasis mine. 44 Ibid, 2010, 9. 45 Balázs, Béla. “The Visible Man.” In Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory: Visible Man and The Spirit of Film. Ed. Erica Carter. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2010, 9. 46 Ibid, 2010, 10. 47 Ibid, 2010, 9. 75 means by which the body, hitherto emptied of the ‘soul’ by the over-prevalence of the written word, finds it once again. This is possible because the revelatory quality of cinematic technology—particularly the close-up—exposes the soul on the surface of a dynamic and expressive body. Hence, cinematically-rendered corporeal dynamism construes the human body as “unmediated spirit, [or] spirit rendered visible.”48 Therefore, Balázs purports that it is through the cinematically represented dynamism of the human corporeal form that man’s ‘spirit’—a term he uses to describe an individual’s interior thoughts and emotions—becomes visible or perceivable to the human eye. Consequently, with this concept Balázs posits a revaluation of the body’s expressive capabilities which, in keeping with his thought process, had been previously rendered invisible as a consequence of society’s focus on the static written word. By citing gestures as “the true mother tongue of mankind,” Balázs suggests that words are somehow apart from revelatory human expressivity. For Balázs the development and very existence of cinema and cinematic technology represents a new form of expressive language as a consequence of “our painful yearning to be human beings with our entire bodies…from our yearning for the embodied human being who has fallen silent, who has been forgotten as has become invisible.”49 It is precisely the visual expressivity of cinema which provides a medium through which the ‘forgotten’ corporeal, non-verbal ‘language’ of the embodied human being can be effectively expressed and witnessed. Seen in this way, Balázs’ attempt to re-discover the ‘lost’ embodied expressive capabilities of humanity squarely places dynamic corporeality—that is, a body that moves—at the centre of his theory. Thus, the visual expressivity of the cinema—achieved by depicting the body ‘in action’— can be understood as reflecting Balázs’ emphasis on the ability of dynamic corporeal surfaces to reveal an individual’s interiority. 48 Ibid, 2010, 9. Balázs, Béla. “The Visible Man.” In Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory: Visible Man and The Spirit of Film. Ed. Erica Carter. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2010, 67, 19.Ibid, 2010, 11. 49 76 Balázs’ focus on the revelatory qualities of the surface serves as a theoretical starting point for an analysis of how film as a “surface art” might be read as an anti-dualistic force.50 Film, and by extension the visual expressiveness of the corporeal surfaces depicted therein, can be read as anti-dualistic due to Balázs’ suggestions that “linkage is the living breath of film and everything in it” and that film, as a “surface art,” necessarily connotes the fact that “whatever is inside in outside.”51 The reciprocal relationships and linkages between the exteriority and interiority of an onscreen individual are of particular importance when discussing the facial superimpositions in Mädchen in Uniform. Again, both the superimpositions are moments wherein the connectivity (the linkage) between Bernburg and Manuela is established. Furthermore, this connection is made on the surface of the face, meaning that the women’s feelings for one another (what is on the inside) become viewable on the surface of their faces. Thus, “in film, everything internal becomes visible in something external; it follows that everything external testifies to an internal reality.”52 Here, Balázs attests to the possibility to two separate entities—the inside and outside—being connected via the dynamic expressivity of the human form represented cinematically. This places traditional dualistic thinking—which, in principle, maintains a strict separation of mind and matter or, as Balázs would likely put it, soul and body— into question. Additionally, if a given individual’s mind (soul) can be literally expressed on the surface of matter (body), the individual’s mind (soul) is therefore visible—at the very least—in the moment of its expression. This suggests that whoever ‘views’ this phenomenon—that is, the mind rendered visible via the corporeal surface—is therefore receiving information about a given subject’s 50 Ibid, 2010, 11. Ibid, 2010, 67, 19. 52 Balázs, Béla. “The Visible Man.” In Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory: Visible Man and The Spirit of Film. Ed. Erica Carter. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2010, 67, 19.Ibid, 2010, 29. 51 77 interiority. Through the sending and receiving of such information, a connection is established between two otherwise independent subjectivities via the expressivity of the corporeal surface. Yet, why does Sagan use the technique of the facial superimposition to signify the romantic connection between Bernburg and Manuela, instead of choosing to superimpose images of another body part? I suggest that Sagan’s choice to focus on the faces of the two women can be read as a quasiphysiognomic project that references eighteenth century notions of the revelatory qualities of the human face as a site of dynamic “hypersignification.”53 To tease out what can be read as Sagan’s reference to physiognomy via her use of the facial superimposition, I would like to first to refer back to Balázs’ own physiognomic thought, which centres on the expressivity and dynamism of human face. While he does understand the body as fundamental to his attempt to develop an aesthetic theory of cinema, Balázs’ focus rests primarily on the revelatory role of the face and of the close-up, which he believes is cinema’s “true terrain.”54 As he attests in his chapter dedicated exclusively to what he conceives of as the gnostic qualities of facial expressivity,55 it is the surface of the human face in close-up wherein “the film’s real drama, its essential content, is played out.”56 For Balázs, cinematic depictions of facial expressivity are the most revealing cinematic images and, furthermore, the face in close-up allows onlookers to witness “not just the individual states of the soul but also the mysterious process of development itself.”57 In this sense, Balázs codifies the expressivity of the face—which, as already emphasized, he sees as signifying the contents of a subject’s interiority (their soul)—as highly dynamic and simultaneous. 53 Rivers, Christopher. Face Value: Physiognomical Thought and the Legible Body in Marivaux, Lavater, Balzac, Gautier, and Zola. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1994, 6. 54 Balázs, Béla. “The Visible Man.” In Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory: Visible Man and The Spirit of Film. Ed. Erica Carter. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2010, 38. 55 Entitled “The Play of Facial Expressions.” 56 Balázs, Béla. “The Visible Man.” In Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory: Visible Man and The Spirit of Film. Ed. Erica Carter. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2010, 33. 57 Ibid, 2010, 34. 78 Balázs’ understanding of the role of the face in cinema can be interpreted as a certain refutation of traditional mind/body dualism. This, in turn, should be perceived as deeply connected to eighteenth-century physiognomical thought. Broadly, eighteenth-century physiognomy is the practice of “discovering” an individual’s authentic personality and emotions via an interpretation or ‘reading’ of their corporeal characteristics or gestures, particularly those of the face.58 Therefore, as Christopher Rivers points out, the physiognomical project presupposes an intimate connection between the physical and metaphysical which codifies the body as a complex semiotic system by virtue of its capability to ‘show’ the interior contents of the human soul.59 Consequently, all individuals necessarily express the connection between interior and exterior via the surface of their bodies.60 In particular, Balázs’ work shares a profound connection to the theories of famed physiognomist Johann Caspar Lavater. Lavater, whose body of work on the “divine science” of physiognomy is unparalleled in sheer volume, was (and remains) famous for the overall theory that the soul is visible on the surface of the body, especially the face.61 As Lavater points out, the mysteries of the very nature of the soul are “written and impressed on the face of man, and on the whole of his exterior.”62 Lavater—like Balázs—therefore conceives of the surface of the body as somehow legible, whereupon not only can the soul be seen but whereupon the contents of the soul can actually be read and/or interpreted by the ‘trained’ physiognomist. 58 Craig, Charlotte M. “A Rigid Issue: Lichtenberg versus Lavater.” In Anthropology and the German Enlightenment: Perspectives on Humanity. Ed., Katherine M. Faull. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1995, 58. 59 Rivers, Christopher. Face Value: Physiognomical Thought and the Legible Body in Marivaux, Lavater, Balzac, Gautier, and Zola. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1994, 3. 60 Shookman, Ellis. “Psuedo-Science, Social Fad, Literary Wonder: Johann Caspar Lavater and the Art of Physiognomy.” In The Faces f Physiognomy: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Johann Caspar Lavater.” Ed., Ellis Shookman. Columbia: Camden House, 1993, 4. 61 Lavater, Johann Caspar. Essays on Physiognomy: calculated to extend The Knowledge and the Love of Mankind (volume 1). London: H.D. Symonds, 1797, iv, vi. 62 Ibid, 1797, vi. 79 Sagan’s project via the facial superimpositions in Mädchen in Uniform, then, should be read as referencing physiognomic thought because she ultimately endows the facial surfaces of the two women with certain gnostic and revelatory qualities. Also, as both Balázs and Lavater attest in their respective works, the surface of the face should also be interpreted in their dynamic and simultaneous movements; that is, during moments of gesticulation.63 If, as this suggests, facial expressivity is dynamic, then it attests to the body’s constant connection with the soul—that is, mind’s constant reference to matter, and vice versa. Undoubtedly, gesticulation and facial expressivity are central to the superimpositions in this film. For instance, and as described previously, during the classroom scene superimposition Manuela is depicted as softly smiling and Bernburg’s eyes constantly dart back and forth, and so on. If facial expressivity in this context is understood as the externalization of the women’s internal emotions, the superimposed images themselves should be codified as a cinematic expression that literalizes the affinity between the two women. So, in this sense, not only is mind connected to matter in this moment, but so are two otherwise separate subjectivities. To borrow from Grosz, in this moment the two women become “a unified plurality.”64 This double-connectivity and communication taking place between mind/matter and subject/subject via the facial superimposition, especially when seen in reference to Balázs and Lavater’s physiognomical theories, is remarkable because it suggests the possibility of the impartation of information from one entity to another. The surface of the face, as readable, can be learned from. Within the moments of the facial superimpositions in Mädchen in Uniform, a subject’s interiority is revealed and can be interpreted via their exteriority. In essence, therefore, “the effects of depth and interiority can be explained in terms of 63 Lavater, Johann Caspar. Essays on Physiognomy: calculated to extend The Knowledge and the Love of Mankind (volume 1). London: H.D. Symonds, 1797, 15, 17. 64 Grosz, Elizabeth. Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994, 12. 80 the…subject’s corporeal surface.”65 As a result, conceiving the mind and body as entirely separate entities in these moments no longer makes sense by virtue of the bilateral communication taking place between them. This communication, I suggest, is indicated by the facial surface`s ability to show, and therefore render interpretable, what Balázs and Lavater term the subject’s ‘soul.’ By privileging the surface of the face and endowing it with gnostic capabilities, corporeality thereby should be construed as central to Sagan’s representations of desire between women in this film. In her emphasis on the centrality of corporeality in conjunction with the double-connectivity she demonstrates via the facial superimposition, I would suggest a reading of the facial surface in Mädchen in Uniform as highly resistive of traditional, and indeed somatophobic, Western dualistic thought because it renders the respective ontological and metaphysical positions of mind/matter and Self/Other ambiguous. An ambiguity of position-hood, as it were, is fascinating in the wider context of the film as a story of a lesbian relationship between a teacher and her student in a highly regimented and authoritarian school environment. As I will endeavour to explore in Chapter 3, it is the anti-dualism in this film which ultimately provides the jumping-off point for a discussion of the anti-authoritarianism demonstrated in Mädchen in Uniform. 2.4 Conclusion to Chapter 2 In conclusion, I have sought to provide a historical context for Mädchen in Uniform by engaging in a discussion and analysis of the facial superimpositions occurring between Manuela and Bernburg in the classroom and rescue scenes. I have examined the role of the facial surface in this film as revelatory by examining it in reference to a postwar German context of revaluation, Magnus Hirschfeld’s analyses of the third sex, the veneration of the face and of the close- 65 Grosz, Elizabeth. Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994, vii. 81 up perpetuated by cinema theorist Béla Balázs, and, lastly, the eighteenth-century physiognomical thought of Johann Caspar Lavater. Ultimately, I suggest that the facial superimpositions should be codified as moments that resist traditional and body-phobic dualistic thinking, which separates and hierarchizes mind and matter, by indicating a double-connectivity between subject/subject and interior/exterior. It is this resistance which renders ambiguous the ontological and metaphysical positions between Bernburg and Manuela, whose romantic affinity and passion for one another are both signified and literalized by the cinematically-achieved overlap of the surfaces of their faces. What this does, I purport, is provide a starting point for a discussion of the anti-totalitarian implications of the love story between Manuela and Bernburg within the boarding school, as I will now discuss in Chapter 3. 82 Chapter 3: Reciprocity and Liminality- Threatening Authoritarianism 3.1 Introduction to Chapter 3 In “Chapter 2: The Facial Superimpositions- Establishing an Affinity” I discussed the cinematic technique of the facial superimposition as revelatory and anti-dualistic in reference to Weimar-German and eighteenth-century conceptualizations of corporeal surfaces. I have understood the facial superimpositions in Mädchen in Uniform, which occur exclusively between Manuela and Bernburg, as signifying moments of dynamic interactivity or contact between two otherwise separate entities, such as Self/Other, subject/object, and body/mind (soul). The anti-dualistic, and therefore anti-hierarchal, connotations of the facial superimpositions in this film represent an opportunity to discuss the construction of the film’s anti-authoritarian ethics. More specifically, I argue that the anti-authoritarian ethical standpoint in Mädchen in Uniform should be seen as centred on the passionate interconnection between Bernburg and Manuela, which serves as the catalyst for the successful and immanent rebellion against the school’s totalitarian structure. The reciprocal nature of the relationship between Bernburg and Manuela, which I have emphasized in my previous chapters, successfully undermines the authoritarian structure of the boarding school because it represents a loving and passionate alternative to the school’s perpetual insistence on interpersonal hierarchies. Seen in this way, Bernburg and Manuela’s affinity poses an immanent and immediate threat to the school’s totalitarianism by virtue of its very existence. Consequently, in an effort to safeguard the school’s structure from further jeopardy, the Headmistress isolates Manuela. However, this proves ineffective: despite being forbidden to do so, Bernburg and the girls attempt to speak with or see Manuela. Moreover, they successfully prevent Manuela’s suicide, which would have been her ultimate expulsion from the system. The refusal to comply with the Headmistress connotes the collective ethical stance taken by Bernburg and the girls against the injustice of Manuela’s punishment. Therefore, by ‘ethics,’ I am referring to the critical standpoint taken by Bernburg and the girls in reaction to the extremeness and cruelty of Manuela’s isolation. By virtue of their 83 perception of Manuela’s punishment as unjust, the girls and Bernburg refuse to accept it and, as a result, disobey the Headmistress in their efforts to rescue her. The fact that they are successful—Manuela’s is saved—suggests that a profound shift has occurred within the system. The prevention of Manuela’s suicide, understood as a rejection of the injustice of her punishment, indicates that the totalitarian structure on which the school is founded no longer able to function as such. Instead, Manuela’s rescue—which, importantly, occurs in the film’s final sequence—serves to demonstrate that non-hierarchal interpersonal relationships, based on affinity and reciprocal love, can not only wield immense critical power but survive within the system. With this in mind, my analysis will be carried out as follows. As in the previous chapters, I perform a close reading of two scenes: the gift scene, in which Manuela receives a chemise from Bernburg, and the declaration scene, in which Manuela proclaims her love for Bernburg. My analysis will be carried out as follows. Firstly, I provide a detailed description of the gift and declaration scenes. Secondly, I argue that the chemise-gift should be perceived as tangible evidence of the reciprocal love and desire between the two women. As a result, I understand the chemise-gift as a catalyst because it should be seen as the inspiration for Manuela’s love-speech. To explore this further, I compare Manuela’s act of rebellion with those of the other girls, such as Mia and Ilse. Thirdly, I discuss the importance of the tangible interconnectivity represented by the chemise-gift in reference to cinema theorist Vivian Sobchack’s conception of passion and phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s notion of the flesh. Then, I examine Manuela’s rebellious love-speech as an inside-threat to the school’s authoritarian structure due to the liminal qualities of the moment in which it takes place. This will be undertaken by looking at Frankfurt-School theorist Theodor Adorno’s theory of negative dialectics and the power of the indeterminate, or marginalized, state. Lastly, I discuss Manuela’s punishment-by-quarantine, which I perceive as relegating her to a status of marginalization, simultaneously existing both inside and outside of the school’s totalitarian system. I purport that the severity of Manuela’s punishment is related to her critique of the school’s 84 hierarchal system. Manuela’s criticism, which I suggest is her reciprocal and loving relationship with Bernburg, jeopardizes the hierarchal structure on which the functioning of the school depends. In order to explore this, I discuss Manuela’s behaviour and punishment through the prism of feminist philosopher Julia Kristeva’s conception of the ‘abject’ figure, whose ontological border-state represents a systemic threat. 3.2 The Gift Scene and The Declaration Scene During the classroom scene, and as discussed in Chapter 2, Manuela is reprimanded by a disappointed Bernburg for not being able to successfully demonstrate her preparedness during Bernburg’s lesson. After the screen fades to black, the film shows a solitary Manuela tip-toeing towards the school’s staircase; she then presses herself against the wall as Bernburg and two other girls approach (Figure 3.1). Manuela makes an attempt to move towards Bernburg, seemingly in an attempt to speak to her, but Bernburg ignores her completely and Manuela shrinks back and lets the women silently pass her. The women climb the stairs as Manuela looks on, forlornly. The scene then cuts to Bernburg entering her office and back to Manuela, still standing alone on the staircase. Manuela is then approached by Edelgard, who embraces her in an effort to provide comfort after her inability to perform in Bernburg’s lesson. 85 Figure 3.1: Manuela (left) standing as Bernburg approaches after the lesson. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform1 Manuela admits to Edelgard that she simply cannot remember anything in Bernburg’s presence; then, she is informed by another pupil that she is wanted in Bernburg’s office. Terrified, Manuela enters the office, and is beckoned by a smirking Bernburg to her desk in order to examine Manuela’s worn-out chemise (Figure 3.2). Bernburg, chemise in hand, smiles playfully at Manuela and makes jokes about the ragged state of the undergarment. Manuela states that, when her aunt sent her to the school, she did so without providing Manuela with any new items of clothing. The women then laughingly agree that the chemise needs to be replaced. Still grinning widely, Bernburg brushes past Manuela and opens her bureau, from which she takes out a new chemise and presents it to Manuela. Overwhelmed, Manuela happily throws the chemise over her shoulder and wraps Bernburg in a tight embrace (Figure 3.3). 1 “Manuela Stands near the Staircase.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 86 Suddenly, without warning, Manuela begins to cry in Bernburg’s arms (Figure 3.4). Bernburg, whose eyes also glisten with tears, asks Manuela if she is homesick, which she denies (Figure 3.5). Manuela, still crying and appearing confused, cannot provide any explanation for her tears. Then, launching into a frenzied semi-monologue, Manuela admits her excruciating desire to follow Bernburg into her bedroom at night after the ritualistic goodnight kiss Bernburg shares with the girls. Becoming increasingly feverish in her speech, Manuela also confesses that she experiences overwhelming feelings of jealousy whenever she imagines Bernburg kissing other girls after Manuela has left the boarding school. Abruptly interrupting her, Bernburg merely asks Manuela to be a good comrade and to understand that exceptions cannot be made in her treatment of Manuela, as the other girls would become envious. Bernburg does, however, concede that she thinks often of Manuela and, smiling, sends Manuela with her chemise-gift back to her classmates. Bernburg, grinning contentedly, looks on as Manuela exits the office (Figure 3.6). Manuela too is smiling ecstatically and, teary-eyed, walks away (Figure 3.7). 87 Figure 3.2: Bernburg, smirking, seated at her desk when Manuela enters. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform2 Figure 3.3: Manuela happily hugs Bernburg, the chemise visible over her shoulder. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform3 2 “Bernburg Smirks.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 88 Figure 3.4: Manuela weeping in Bernburg’s arms after she receives the gift. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform4 3 “Manuela Embraces Bernburg holding the Chemise.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 4 “Manuela Weeps.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 89 Figure 3.5: Bernburg teary-eyed asks Manuela if she is homesick Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform5 Figure 3.6: Bernburg smiling to herself as Manuela leaves Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform6 5 “Bernburg Teary-Eyed.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 90 Figure 3.7: Manuela leaving Bernburg’s office with her chemise, smiling. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform7 The proceeding day the girls learn that they will be performing Schiller’s Don Carlos in celebration of the Headmistress’ birthday. The camera then cuts to the evening of the performance, depicting the girls in full costume. Dressed as thelead, Manuela rehearses her lines as Don Carlos as her kneeling companion listens and strokes her legs. Happily, Manuela exclaims that Bernburg will not be able to help but notice her in the play and, unlike in their classes together, Manuela will remember her lines (Figure 3.8). Following the girls’ triumphant performance is a celebration in which the girls are allowed to take part without supervision. There is singing, dancing, and a great deal of heavily spiked punch— which Manuela drinks copiously. When dancing with her classmate Mia (Barbara Pirk), Manuela unexpectedly seizes Mia by the arms and declares how happy she is. Mia, wincing in obvious pain, rolls up the sleeve of her dress and proudly 6 “Bernburg Smiling as Manuela Exits.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 7 “Manuela Leaving with her Gift.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 91 flaunts the initials ‘E.v.B’—Elisabeth von Bernburg—carved into her skin (Figure 3.9). After somewhat disbelievingly reading the initials aloud, Manuela suddenly declares that she wants to divulge something to her classmates. Standing before them and quivering with excitement, Manuela starts off by telling the girls how much she loves them, and then asks if they want to hear a secret. The girls lean forward in anticipation, eagerly awaiting Manuela’s secret, which is that Bernburg has given her a chemise and that she is wearing it under her costume. At this moment Fräulein von Kesten enters the room and, hearing this, fetches the Headmistress. Then, fervent and impassioned, Manuela looks directly at the Headmistress and proclaims her love for Bernburg and states that everyone should know, and recognize, it (Figure 3.10). Manuela then faints, after which the Headmistress declares Manuela’s behaviour to be a scandal. The screen then fades to black. Figure 3.8: As Don Carlos, Manuela practices her lines. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform8 8 “Manuela Recites her Lines.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 92 Figure 3.9: Mia (left) shows Manuela the “E v. B” carved into her arm. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform9 Figure 3.10: Manuela defiant in front of the Headmistress. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform10 9 “Bernburg’s Initials.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 93 3.3 Passionate Reciprocity and Liminality Manuela’s rebellious declaration of love wields an immediate power to effectively undo, or at the very least interrupt, the authoritarian structure of the school. I understand Manuela’s act of rebellion as an effective systematic threat because it results in the Headmistress’ swift and immediate reaction. Manuela is instantaneously quarantined, waking up the next morning in the school’s sick bay. This belies the threatening nature of Manuela’s act and, by extension, its potentially-disruptive power: Manuela is isolated from the other students due to the likely fear that she will ‘infect’ the others with her disobedience. This power should be discussed in reference to the intimate—even erotic—chemise-gift given to her by Bernburg. When analyzed together, the chemise-gift and lovedeclaration should be understood as spurring the breaking-down of the authoritarianism of the school in favour of a non-hierarchal interactivity between desiring subjects, which I understand as the establishment of a non-hierarchal ethical standpoint. Of course, this begs the question: why, and how, does Manuela’s act of rebellion—that is, her love-declaration—disrupt the school’s authoritarianism while other disobedient acts are simply absorbed back into the dominant power structure? To answer this question, we must explore how Manuela’s—and by extension Bernburg’s—effective and realized revolutionary act of passion serves as the foundation for change in the ethical structure of the boarding school. There are several acts of rebellion undertaken by the girls against the school’s authoritarianism that are highlighted in Mädchen in Uniform— Manuela’s declaration of love for Bernburg is not the only one. However, the ensuing consequences of Ilse or Mia’s disobedience, for example, are either not very severe or the potential threat contained within the acts themselves are not realized, as the girls’ behaviour does not appear to cause any permanent damage 10 “Manuela Defiant.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 94 to the overall totalitarian structure of the boarding school. Ilse, for example, consistently either makes fun of the school’s authority figures or unabashedly refuses to comply with its rules. Ilse’s defiance, taking place within the school, therefore contains the potential to seriously undermine its authoritarianism. Nevertheless, Ilse’s actions never truly have this effect. For instance, she writes and attempts to smuggle a letter to her parents in which she complains of starvation and boredom, even though the Headmistress and the instructors emphasize ad nauseam that letter writing is forbidden. In a somewhat vitriolic diatribe against rumours of letter writing, the Headmistress promises that any girl caught exchanging letters will be severely disciplined. Even during this ominous speech, Ilse smirks and tells the other girls to imagine the Headmistress naked. Thus, obviously undeterred by the Headmistress’ threat, Ilse engages the help of Johanna, a kind-hearted school employee, to secretly mail her letter. Astoundingly, Johanna needs no convincing and, as she exits the school on her Sunday outing, permits Ilse to place the letter down the front of her dress. Johanna, in this way, can be understood as an inside threat. While working for the school she nevertheless seeks to help the girls, whom she sees as oppressed and suffering. For example, as Johanna prepares a meal with the other cooks and servants, she openly disagrees with the school’s perpetual focus on discipline, order, and frugality, which she believes are superfluous and cause the girls’ unhappiness. Unfortunately, Ilse’s letter is falsely addressed and returned to the school, thereby falling into the hands of the Headmistress. The Headmistress is not the only individual who is aware of the letters’ contents; before giving the letter to Johanna, Ilse read it to some of her schoolmates. Even so, Ilse’s punishment is relatively mild. Although excluded from participating in Don Carlos, Ilse is nonetheless permitted to sit in the audience and even take part in the post-performance celebration, where she happily toasts her fellow pupils for a job well done (Figure 3.11). 95 Figure 3.11: Ilse attends the after party and toasts her friends. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform11 A similar act of disobedience is undertaken by Mia when she receives a letter from a love-struck girl named Josie, begging to sit near Mia at mealtime. Mia, scoffing at the letter’s melodramatic contents, is reading the letter aloud to a friend when she is interrupted by a very stern-looking Bernburg. Bernburg demands that the letter be handed over and Mia, although panicked, does so. Not only does the school proscribe letter-writing, the Headmistress also made a point of emphasizing that romantic affairs between the girls should be, at the very least, discouraged by the school authorities. However, instead of reading Mia’s letter to expose its contents or sending her directly to the Headmistress for punishment, Bernburg tears up the letter simply recites the school’s interdiction against letterwriting. Indeed, Mia is one of the film’s most fascinating characters, as her sexual attraction to women is quite apparent, and openly depicted as such on screen. For instance, the letter she receives from Josie is neither surprising to Mia nor the classmate to whom she reads it. Mia is not confused or flattered by the letter’s 11 “Ilse’s Toast.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 96 contents, which suggests that they are nothing extraordinary—Mia is merely shown mocking Josie’s sentimentality. Moreover, when Ilse shows Manuela her shrine to Hans Albers, as discussed in Chapter 2, Ilse makes an off-handed remark that in Mia’s locker there is a similar shrine to actress Henny Porten. Thus, while Mia’s same-sex attractions are relatively glaring, sometimes even taking place in tandem with the disobedience of the school’s official rules, Mia’s recalcitrance never seems to undermine the authoritarianism of the school. At the same time, both Mia and Ilse frequently routinely rebel against the school’s emotionallyrepressive atmosphere. For example, Mia actually carves the initials ‘E.v.B’ into her arm to give voice to her obvious affection for the young teacher, and Ilse frequently parodies the school’s songs and the soldier-like behaviour of the teachers (Figure 3.12). Figure 3.12: Ilse (centre) mocks Fräulein von Kesten behind her back. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform12 12 “Ilse Mocks Fräulein von Kesten.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 97 Thus, Ilse and Mia engage in acts of disobedience which could potentially disrupt the totalitarian atmosphere of the school. Yet why do Ilse and Mia not seem to be severely punished—if at all—for their recalcitrance, particularly when compared to the repercussions faced by Manuela after she declares her love for Bernburg? The most obvious explanation is that Manuela’s defiance was public, while Mia and Ilse were far more clandestine in their disobedience. Going further, I suggest that Manuela’s public declaration of love undermines the school’s authoritarianism specifically because of Manuela’s reference to the reciprocal desire between the two women, which is physically represented by the chemisegift. Furthermore, Manuela makes her declaration during a moment of liminality—that is, a moment wherein reality can be understood as being temporarily suspended. As a case in point, when compared to the usually strict and orderly depictions of the school’s atmosphere, the post-Don Carlos celebration seems unlikely to the point of being surreal: the girls have access to an abundance of alcohol, they are unsupervised, and many—including Manuela in her gender-bending Don Carlos attire—are no longer in uniform but remain in their costumes. The bond as represented by the chemise-gift is extremely powerful by virtue of its very tangibility: it is a literal and present force representative of Manuela and Bernburg’s affinity. My characterization of the chemise-gift as a powerful force is due to the fact that Manuela actually cites the chemise in her love-declaration as proof that Bernburg’s romantic feelings for Manuela mirror Manuela’s own. Manuela does not cite, for example, the kiss or embraces she shares with Bernburg. In fact, Manuela begins her love-declaration by stating that “she”—meaning Bernburg—gave her a gift, a chemise, and she is wearing it now.13 Continuing, Manuela states that Bernburg opened her bureau, brought out a chemise, and presented it to her to wear and think of her.14 Then she corrects herself: no, Bernburg did not say that, but she did not have to because Manuela 13 14 “Sie hat mir was geschenkt. Ein Hemd. Und ich hab es an.” “Ich soll es tragen und an die denken.” 98 knows it is what she meant. Manuela “knows” (wissen) for certain that the chemise-gift is a tangible expression of Bernburg’s feelings for her; through the gift, Manuela comes to know that Bernburg loves her.15 After proclaiming what she knows via the chemise-gift, Manuela’s speech gathers strength and she becomes so self-assured that she proclaims her love, stating that everyone should know the truth about the feelings she has and, evidently, understands as receiving back from Bernburg.16 The chemise-gift becomes a catalyst, spurring Manuela to defy the hierarchal structure of the school by continuing her speech even in front of the Headmistress. Thus, the chemise-gift is codified in this moment as literal, citable, and therefore powerful evidence of the connection between the two women. If the chemise-gift can be codified as tangible evidence of the women’s interconnectivity and mutual desire, then it should be conceived as something which exists in a phenomenological border-state, somewhere between the respective ontological ‘subject-hoods’ of Manuela and Bernburg, both connoting and reflecting their bond. Therefore, the chemise-gift, in its very existence and in the proclamation of its existence, serves as a means by which a non-hierarchal, non-dualistic affinity between the two women is simultaneously symbolized and expressed. The egalitarianism symbolized by the term ‘affinity’ is extremely important when bearing in mind that the love affair occurs between teacher and student. Clearly, the teachers are unequivocally the representatives of the school’s authoritarian rules and regulations; the harsh treatment to which the girls are subjected has to do with the Headmistress’ ultimate goal of returning Prussia to its former state of greatness. Hence, there is a clear and hierarchal line drawn between the teachers and students, continually emphasized by the Headmistress’ focus on order, discipline, and frugality in the school’s treatment and view of the 15 “Aber das muss sie auch gar nicht sagen, das weiß ich doch... Und ich weiß es ganz genau: sie…sie hat mich lieb!” 16 “Mir ist alles andere gleich. Jawohl! Sie ist da! Sie hat mich lieb! Ich fürchte mich vor nichts. Ja! Alle sollen es wissen!” 99 girls.17 The mere existence of an affinity, let alone one that is romantic and reciprocal in nature, threatens the strict hierarchy of the school on which its very existence seems to depend. Otherwise, the threat to this hierarchy undertaken by Manuela in her love-speech would certainly not have garnered such a strong reaction from the school’s authorities. To reiterate, it is the existence of the chemise-gift which Manuela uses to accentuate her point: that she loves Bernburg, and Bernburg loves her in return. Hence, the reciprocity of feeling symbolized by the chemise-gift, particularly when bearing in mind the anti-hierarchal stance that the affinity between the two women represents, should be perceived as thrusting Bernburg and Manuela into an ontological structure of reversibility founded upon the intense passion the women share.18 In her work Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture, Sobchack utilizes the term “reversibility” to describe the phenomenon wherein two distinct ontological beings, particularly subject/object or Self/Other, enter into a non-oppositional interrelationship via an experience of passion.19 Importantly, Sobchack asserts that this passionate encounter be envisaged as antihierarchal and anti-dichotomous because it necessitates an exchange between beings that is powerful enough to, at least temporarily, dissolve ontological boundaries. Thus, in Mädchen in Uniform, the affinity between Bernburg and Manuela symbolizes a rejection of hierarchal relationships, and thereby provides the foundation of its anti-authoritarian ethical standpoint. It is, I suggest, an encounter of passion which results in the establishment of an affinity between, or intertwining of, otherwise separate beings, as this allows for the mutual experiencing of opposing ontological characteristics. Thus, by virtue of an 17 “Hunger? Wir Preußen haben uns groß gehungert...Was uns Not tut, ist Zucht und Ordnung, nicht Wohlleben und Luxus. Armut schändet nicht. Sie ehrt. Das ist wieder der Sinn des wahren Preußentums geworden, wie es früher gewesen ist...Durch Zucht und Hunger. Durch Hunger und Zucht werden wir wider groß werden. Oder gar nicht.” 18 Sobchack, Vivian. Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004, 286. 19 Ibid, 2004, 286, 288. 100 affinity, a subject might experience passivity and an object, activity.20 Sobchack conceives of passion as, somewhat paradoxically, consisting of suffering and devotion. The simultaneous occurrence of suffering and devotion in the passionate experience blurs the boundaries between the hierarchal and dualistic subject/object relationship, because it dismantles the philosophically taken-forgranted borders of the ‘self-contained’ subject and object. This border-confusion suggests that an intersubjective interconnection is possible outside a hierarchal paradigm. Firstly, the subject’s experience of passionate suffering “names a certain condition of passive existence in which a body-subject or an embodied object is subjected to the will of others or the action of external forces.”21 Consequently, “the passion of suffering brings subjective being into intimate contact with its brute materiality and links it…to the passive, mute, and inanimate objects of the world.”22 Through the passionate experience of suffering, the subject faces the reality of its incomplete subjectivity. The subject—in spite of its subjectivity—can be acted upon by that which is exterior to it and independent of its own agency, as might be an ontological object. Secondly, passion-as-devotion is “defined as an active devotion to others and the objective world.”23 Thus, the ontological subject experiences passion-as-devotion “as an intense, driving, and overmastering feeling that emerges and expands beyond our conscious will yet acts on us, nonetheless, from within.”24 Seen in this way, “like suffering, passionate devotion is in excess of our volition; but, unlike suffering, it is within our agency…it is our desire to enfold other subjects and objects (often the world itself), to know their materiality and objectivity intimately and, indeed, to embrace their alterity as our own.”25 20 Sobchack, Vivian. Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004, 287. 21 Ibid, 2004, 287. 22 Ibid, 2004, 287. 23 Ibid, 2004, 288. 24 Ibid, 2004, 288. 25 Ibid, 2004, 288-289. 101 The respective and rigid ontological categories of active subject and passive object, and the hierarchy their paring traditionally connotes, are thrown into question by the passionate encounter. In Mädchen in Uniform, interactions between Bernburg and Manuela often appear to signify opposing ontological positions within the school: Bernburg is the active and authoritative subject, and Manuela is the passive and acted-upon object. For instance, the first meeting between the two women occurs when Bernburg surprises Manuela on the staircase. Bernburg, who had been watching Manuela without her knowledge, positions herself on the staircase so that Manuela comes face-to-face with her. A stern Bernburg authoritatively demands that Manuela turn around, so that her entire physical appearance can be judged according to the school’s dress code. Then, Bernburg places her hands on Manuela’s hair, roughly feeling for the position of her hairpins, and determines that Manuela’s hair must be more rigorously held in place. Bernburg then turns Manuela back to face her, and emphasizes that she, as the authority figure, requires total order and unquestioning obedience of the school’s rules. Manuela, replying quietly that she understands, is then sent away without another word. Perhaps further emphasizing their respective ontological roles as subject and object, Bernburg walks up the staircase, and Manuela walks down. The relative coldness and formality connoted by this scene gives the impression that, like the other girls, Manuela’s relationship to the school authorities will be hierarchal; simply, her role will be to do, and say, what she is told. With this in mind, while the gift scene also occurs exclusively between Manuela and Bernburg, it is fascinating because it unfolds so differently. In fact, I suggest that the usual hierarchal teacher/pupil interaction is suspended in the gift scene. As described above, the women interact with a friendly easiness not depicted anywhere else in Mädchen in Uniform. Bernburg and Manuela seem to behave as equals, not as student and teacher. Bernburg’s attitude is lighthearted— she even makes a few jokes—and lacks the authoritative demeanour with which she normally conducts herself. For instance Johanna, who is present in the office before Manuela enters, is treated with a cold politeness. Conversely, Bernburg’s 102 behaviour changes completely when she sees Manuela. For example, she is smiling, treats Manuela with kindness and friendliness, and the two women share several moments of laughter (Figure 3.13). Additionally, after receiving the chemise-gift, Manuela wraps Bernburg in an embrace which, importantly, is returned. Moreover, the exchange taking place between the two women in this scene is emotionally intense—both women are depicted teary-eyed and, in the next moment, are smiling ecstatically. Figure 3.13: Bernburg and Manuela laughing together. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform26 As already stated, I suggest that the passion represented by the chemisegift signifies an affinity between the two women and, moreover, the reversibility of their respective ontological states. This can be further explored in connection with Merleau-Ponty’s notion of the flesh, a term which he used to describe the means by which the Self (subject) is rendered capable of interacting with the world (Other/object). Merleau-Ponty’s subject—or, more specifically, the 26 “Bernburg and Manuela laugh together.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 103 embodied or lived subject-in-the-world—grasps everything external to its own subjectivity via its “bodily situation.”27 This concept provides a jumping-off point for the exploration of the power of the chemise-gift, and more importantly its citation, during Manuela’s love-declaration. Merleau-Ponty was fascinated with how the relationship between the Self and the outside world functions; this reflects to his broader ambition to disrupt traditional phenomenological adherence to dichotomous pairings in his attempt to understand embodied perception.28 Thus, Merleau-Ponty places corporeality and the concept of the lived body at the centre of his analyses. For example, he states: “I have tried, first of all, to reestablish the roots of the mind in its body and in its world, going against doctrines which…commonly forget—in favor of a pure exteriority or of a pure interiority— the insertion of the mind in corporeality.”29 The body, then, becomes central in his attempt to uncover how the subject ultimately experiences the world in which it is situated. The body should therefore not be perceived as a thing-like envelope for the mind: “it is much more than an instrument or a means; it is our expression in the world, a visible form of our intentions.”30 In this way, the body is active, dynamic, and is paradoxically capable of not only gleaning significance from the world, but imparting meaning onto it.31 With this in mind, the subjectivity of the subject becomes ambivalent, as its borders are no longer entirely clear and its agency upon the outside world no longer unquestionable. For Merleau-Ponty, corporeality helps to explain the subject’s interaction with that which is outside of itself. He attempts to further this discussion by using his concept of the flesh. As Thomas Baldwin points out in his introduction to Merleau-Ponty’s The Visible and The Invisible: The Intertwining- The Chiasm, the term flesh conceives the body as endowed with the capacity to provide “access 27 Grosz, Elizabeth. Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994, 90. 28 Ibid, 1994, 93. 29 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. “The Primacy of Perception.” In Merleau-Ponty: Basic Writings. Ed., Thomas Baldwin. London and New York: Routledge, 2003, 34. 30 Ibid, 2003, 36. 31 Ibid, 2003, 38. 104 to both subjective experience and objective existence.”32 Flesh connotes a doublemeaning for Merleau-Ponty, because “it is both a form of experience (tactile experience) and something that can be touched. It is both ‘touching’ and ‘tangible.’”33 What this suggests is that flesh—so, the body—can touch, be touched, and paradoxically have these experiences simultaneously. For instance, when my hand touches the other, there is a “crisscrossing” of the experiences of touching and being touched.34 Consequently, the fleshy experience is one of simultaneous and, most importantly, of reversible objectivity and subjectivity, because “the ‘touching subject’ passes over to the rank of the touched.”35 It is the flesh, understood as the subject’s status as embodied-being, which allows the subject to experience the world both subjectively and objectively. Ultimately, the flesh becomes the means by which the subject interacts with objects external to it but which, at the same time, is what allows the subject to experience a sense of its own objectivity. With this in mind, I suggest that as a result of their mutual desire, Bernburg and Manuela become implicated in a passionate structure which, as symbolized by the chemise gift, renders them ontologically reversible. The chemise-gift, therefore, should be seen as a tangible representation of the fleshyreversibility that takes place between the two women virtue of their passionate encounter in the gift scene. Reversibility, which also suggests ambiguity, is incredibly powerful within the diegetic universe of Mädchen in Uniform because of its disruptive potential. A position of ambiguity, as interruptive, provides a starting point for a discussion as to why Manuela chooses the post-performance celebration to declare her love for Bernburg. I suggest that it is the ambiguity or liminality of the celebration which allowed Manuela to make her love declaration. After the girls 32 Baldwin, Thomas. “Introduction to Part 5.” In Merleau-Ponty: Basic Writings. Ed., Thomas Baldwin. London and New York: Routledge, 2004, 247. 33 Ibid, 2004, 248. 34 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. “The Visible and The Invisible: The Intertwining- The Chiasm.” In Merleau-Ponty: Basic Writings. Ed., Thomas Baldwin. London and New York: Routledge, 2004, 251. 35 Ibid, 251, 2004. 105 learn they will be putting on Don Carlos, the camera cuts to an image of Manuela, in full costume the lead (Figure 3.8). A giggling Manuela asks her companion if “she”—meaning Bernburg—will be pleased with her performance and decides that yes, she certainly will, and her companion readily agrees.36 Manuela, dressed as Don Carlos, is performing a hosenrolle, or trouser role, which was a fixture in Weimar popular culture—most famously, perhaps, is Marlene Dietrich as Lola Lola in The Blue Angel.37 Katie Sutton, in her book The Masculine Woman in Weimar German, analyzes the hosenrolle as “a nonthreatening and familiar…masculinization of woman.”38 Thus, as Sutton points out, “by situating the masculine woman within the strict spatial and temporal constraints of an overtly fictional theatrical performance, audiences were provided with a safe— and simultaneously titillating—brand of female masculinity that only rarely challenged the dominant social order.”39 However, for Sutton, the very appropriation—albeit theatrical—of male dress by women represented an opportunity to question and even challenge paradigms of gender, meaning that this act immanently contained “transgressive potential.”40 The ‘transgressive potential’ of Manuela’s hosenrolle in Mädchen in Uniform is located not in the mimicry of maleness, by which male privilege might be accessed, but in the indeterminate figure Manuela represents as Don Carlos. It is not necessarily a question of being neither male, nor female, nor somewhere in between. Instead, Manuela might be perceived as simultaneously Manuela, and not-Manuela. Certainly, Manuela plays Don Carlos as an actress; however, even as a performer Manuela is herself and, furthermore, never seems to completely immerse herself in her role. She is deeply attached, even while on stage, to Bernburg and the experiences they share. For example, as Manuela recites her lines, she is preoccupied with thoughts of whether or not Bernburg will like her as 36 Manuela: “Glaubst du, dass ich ihr gefallen werde? Ich muss ihr doch gefallen.” Most famously, perhaps, is Marlene Dietrich as Lola Lola in Der Blaue Engel (1930). Sutton, Katie. The Masculine Woman in Weimar Germany. New York: Berghahn Books, 2011, 130. 38 Ibid, 2011, 127. 39 Ibid, 2011, 127. 40 Ibid, 2011, 128. 37 106 Don Carlos. Then, after the play concludes, Manuela’s exclusive concern is Bernburg’s reaction to her performance. Ilse, who had been sitting in the audience, divulges that Bernburg’s only reaction to Manuela as Don Carlos was to stare at her, and only her, with an unimaginable intensity (Figure 3.15).41 In fact, Sagan visually connotes Bernburg as the most important member of the audience for Manuela, by placing her in the front row, centre, whenever Manuela is depicted on stage (Figure 3.14). Additionally, despite being in costume and removing the rest of her uniform, Manuela nevertheless wears the chemise-gift throughout her performance. Thus, Bernburg is Manuela’s undeniable focus and vice-versa, even when Manuela is on stage. Furthermore, during the postperformance celebration Manuela remains in her costume and, during her declaration, stands slightly above the other school girls as if they were audience members during her love-speech. 41 Ilse: “Du, das war merkwürdig. Die Bernburgerin, die hat die ganze Zeit überhaupt kein einziges Wort gesagt. Aber du, Augen hat die gemacht, sag ich dir! Augen hat die gemacht! Das kannst du gar nicht vorstellen, war für welche!” 107 Figure 3.14: Bernburg front and centre, watching Manuela as Don Carlos. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform42 Figure 3.15: Ilse (left) describes Bernburg watching Manuela’s performance. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform43 42 “Bernburg in the Audience.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 108 The indeterminate figure represented by Manuela in her hosenrolle as Don Carlos suggests that the performance and post-performance celebration are moments of extreme ambiguity, existing somewhere between fiction and reality. These moments, therefore, should be understood as liminal or negative. I suggest that it is precisely the liminality or negativity of these moments which empower Manuela to make her critique of the authoritarianism of the school’s structure via her love speech. To explore this, I will now turn to Theodor Adorno’s valorization of negativity, which he perceives to be a powerful agent of systematic criticism. In his unfinished opus Negative Dialectics, Adorno’s overarching project is to use negation or negativity in order to achieve a positive result; that is, it is in the negative moment, which should not exist in a phenomenological sense, which becomes the most fruitful for philosophical inquiry.44 Adorno seeks to counter what he sees as the untruthfulness of traditional Hegelian-based identity thinking with what he refers to as a theory of non-identity. He states: “the name of dialectics says no more…than that objects do not go into their concepts without leaving a remainder…it indicates the untruth of identity, the fact that the concept does not exhaust the thing conceived.”45 I am not arguing for a salvaging of difference understood as preserving the separation between oppositional pairs. Instead, I purport that the ‘untruth of identity’ be perceived in relation to the boarding school’s authoritarian structure as evidence of a crack in the overall system. By virtue of Manuela’s indeterminacy as Don Carlos and the liminal reality of the performance and after party, the ultimate ineffectiveness of the school’s totalitarianism is revealed. Hence, totality, according to Adorno, is impossible: any ‘existence’ of totality is mere appearance, achieved by what Adorno refers to as “the principle of the 43 “Ilse describes Bernburg’s Reaction.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 44 Adorno, Theodor W. Negative Dialectics. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group, 1973, xix. 45 Ibid, 1973, 5. 109 excluded middle.”46 In essence, that which does not support the conceptual totality is either outright rejected or ignored as the negative of philosophy. It is precisely the negative or non-term, which in its very existence points to the untruthfulness of any totality or whole, that Adorno sees as containing the potential for critical, even revolutionary, thought. The night of the performance and the post-performance celebration, when seen as a non-moments somewhere between fantasy and reality, become negative moments wherein the (supposed) total authoritarianism and hierarchal structure of the school splits apart, opening up the potential for criticism. The power of the excluded or marginalized entity can be seen in Mädchen in Uniform in reference to Manuela’s immediate quarantine after she declares her love for Bernburg. Manuela is punished because her relationship with Bernburg, as reciprocal and therefore non-hierarchal, effectively criticizes the school’s totalitarianism. Manuela’s quarantine is fascinating because it suggests that she is conceived of as ‘diseased,’ or ‘dirty’. Manuela’s ‘dirtiness’ is so powerful that she must be separated from other girls, as if they are at risk of being ‘infected’ with her disobedience. However, I do not conceptualize Manuela as ‘dirty’ in the sense of being unclean, but in the sense that she seems to represent a disorderliness that disrupts the functioning of the school’s structure. This is the reason for Manuela’s quarantine: the ‘dirtiness’ of her disobedience, in criticism of the school’s totalitarianism, points to the ‘untruth’ of its systematic totality. Moreover, the very existence of her affinity with Bernburg points to the possibility of an ethical re-structuring of the school based on reciprocity and intersubjectivity. Manuela’s critique, therefore, reveals the school’s authoritarian structure as fractured and incapable of indefinitely repressing undesirable behaviour or relationships. Furthermore, the Headmistress reacts to Manuela’s declaration with horror, exclaiming that her behaviour is scandalous. The horror of the Headmistress’ response, in addition to Manuela’s quarantine in the school’s sick 46 Adorno, Theodor W. Negative Dialectics. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group, 1973, 5. 110 bay, suggests that Manuela engaged in an immanent and ‘abject’ critique of the school. As Julia Kristeva emphasizes in her work Powers of Horror: An Essay On Abjection, “there looms, within abjection, one of those violent, dark revolts of being, directed against a threat that seems to emanate from an exorbitant outside or inside, ejected beyond the scope of the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable. It lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated.”47 Here, Kristeva describes the horror-reaction to the border-state, which can be neither clearly categorized nor unquestionably located in the subject’s, or system’s, interior or exterior. The abject reaction, therefore, occurs as a result of the ontological position of objectivity, and by extension subjectivity, being thrown into question.48 Manuela is quarantined because, by virtue of her declaration, she becomes a figure of abjection within the system by criticizing it. Manuela’s abjection-status, which should also be seen as a status of ambivalence, is feared by the school’s authorities because, as Kristeva points out, “it is not lack of cleanliness or health that causes abjection but what disturbs identity, system, order. What does not respect borders, positions, rules. The in-between, the ambiguous, the composite…any crime which draws attention to the fragility of the law, is abject…[it is] a terror that disassembles.”49 Thus, the goal of Manuela’s quarantine might be understood in relation to what Mary Douglas describes as an effort to re-order a given environment making it free of ‘dirt,’ thereby creating the semblance of a “unity of experience” by marginalizing threatening elements so that the system can continue to function as a whole.50 Due to their refusal to accept Manuela’s exclusion, or expulsion, from the system, the girls and Bernburg prevent Manuela’s suicide. The prevention of Manuela’s death should be understood as a triumph over the Headmistress by Manuela, Bernburg, and the other girls: justice prevailed over injustice, and the 47 Kristeva, Julia. Powers of Horror: An Essay On Abjection. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982, 1. 48 Ibid, 1982, 1. 49 Ibid, 1982, 4. 50 Douglas, Mary. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London and New York: Routledge, 2002, 2. 111 totalitarianism of the system was fractured irrevocably. This, I argue, is the film’s climactic ethical moment because it emphasizes the existence of the critiquepotential within the predominant order. For an effective critique of the school’s totalitarianism to take place, active resistance must occur against efforts to expel the negative, abject, or ‘dirty’ aspects existing within the system, as they pose the largest danger to the totality of its structure. Mädchen in Uniform suggests that ethical potential is actually located at the borders and within the ambivalent aspects of the school’s oppressive structure. In the film, the ethical potential stems from the passion between Bernburg and Manuela which, when codified as reciprocal, is rendered capable of breaking down the strict hierarchal structure of the school by providing an alternative based on intersubjectivity. Moreover, the passion existing between the two women is tangibly represented by the chemisegift, which Manuela uses as proof of the feelings she and Bernburg share. The Headmistress thereby sees Manuela as dangerous, and quarantines her in an effort to expel her from the system. The injustice of this expulsion—which can only be fully realized by Manuela’s death—is inacceptable for the school girls and Bernburg who finally rebel. Breaking the Headmistress’ interdiction against any interaction with Manuela, the girls and Bernburg seek her out in order to rescue her from throwing herself off the staircase. The Headmistress, faced with the reality that the girls and Bernburg will no longer bear the oppression she inflicts upon them, is forced to admit her defeat and stalks away in the film’s final scene (Figure 3.16). 112 Figure 3.16: Defeated, the Headmistress walks away. Screenshot: Mädchen in Uniform51 3.4 Conclusion to Chapter 3 In conclusion, I have discussed the reciprocal desire between Bernburg and Manuela as the critique of the authoritarian and hierarchal structure of the boarding school in Mädchen in Uniform. I have understood the chemise-gift, a personal token presented to Manuela by Bernburg, as a tangible representation of their mutual feelings of desire and passion. Consequently, the chemise-gift is extremely powerful within the diegetic universe of the film, as it is used by Manuela in her love speech as proof that, not only does she love Bernburg, but that Bernburg loves her in return. Passion establishes the women’s affinity by thrusting them into a relationship of ontological reversibility, which characterizes their relationship as egalitarian and non-hierarchal. The affinity between the two women is expressed publicly, and should be understood in reference to the liminal or negative moments of the performance and post-performance celebration. Once 51 “The Defeated Headmistress.” Mädchen in Uniform. Dir. Leontine Sagan. Perf.: Hertha Thiele, Dorothea Wieck, and Emilia Unda. Deutsche-Film Gemeinschaft. 1931. DVD, 2010. Author’s screenshot. 113 Manuela makes her relationship with Bernburg known, she is punished and therefore forbidden from interacting with Bernburg and her friends. Manuela, I have suggested, is punished because her affinity with Bernburg points to the impossibility of the totality of the school’s authoritarian structure, which is based on hierarchies. Manuela, therefore, performs an immanent and ‘abject’ systematic critique, which is reaches its climax when the girls and Bernburg prevent Manuela’s suicide. Thus, as the final scene in the Mädchen in Uniform, the prevention of Manuela’s suicide points to the establishment of an alternative ethical system that rejects hierarchal encounters in favour of passionate interconnectivity. 114 Touch yourself, touch me, you’ll ‘see’1: exploring contact and intersubjectivity in Leontine Sagan’s ‘Mädchen in Uniform’ (1931) Conclusion In “Chapter 1: Haptic Conveyances- The Body,” I utilized feminist embodiment and haptic cinematic theories to perform a phenomenological reading of representations and suggestions of tactile encounters between bodies in Mädchen in Uniform. I demonstrated the central role performed by contact in the establishment of intersubjective moments between otherwise separate entities by exploring the opening and bedtime scenes. I compared and contrasted Sagan’s juxtaposition of ‘static’ masculine imagery in the opening montage with the erotic ‘incompleteness’ and dynamism depicted by the imagery of the girls’ legs. I concluded that this juxtaposition should be understood as privileging, even requiring, a haptic gaze, which momentarily suspends the traditionally-hierarchal bond between cinema-image and cinema-viewer. In the bedtime scene, I focused on the kiss shared by Bernburg and Manuela to show that the act of touch functions in Mädchen in Uniform as a means by which the borders between Self and Other are fleetingly suspended. Thus, the tactile and therefore intersubjective nature of the kiss should be perceived as epistemological, as it symbolizes a moment wherein the impartation of knowledge—which I understand as the desire Bernburg and Manuela harbour for one another—occurs. By emphasizing the importance of contact in the establishment of interconnectivity, the disruption and re-conceptualization of traditional dichotomous pairs, such as subject/object or Self/Other, is rendered possible. In “Chapter 2: The Facial Superimpositions- Establishing an Affinity,” I sought to historically contextualize Mädchen in Uniform through an examination of the extraordinary cinematic technique of the facial superimposition, which Sagan employs exclusively to illustrate the affinity shared by Manuela and Bernburg. The facial superimpositions occur twice, once in the classroom scene 1 Irigaray, Luce and Burke, Carolyn. “When Our Lips Speak Together.” Signs 6.1 (Part 2 Autumn 1980), 78. 115 and then again in the rescue scene. To be more precise, I discuss the facial surface in Mädchen in Uniform as revelatory and, therefore, as an anti-dualistic force. The facial superimposition simultaneously illustrates the connection between the two women and the bond mind and body, by making their love for one another visible on the surfaces of their faces. Firstly, I explored the surface of the face as revelatory through the prism of postwar-‘revaluation’ and theories of the so-called ‘third sex.’ Then, secondly, I analyzed it in connection with Weimar cinema theorist Béla Balázs’ veneration of the face, especially the facial close-up, and the eighteenth-century physiognomic writings of Johann Caspar Lavater. Ultimately, I have demonstrated that the facial superimpositions, in their symbolic connotation of the affinity between Bernburg and Manuela, can be perceived as moments resisting traditional dualism by refuting the hierarchal separation of mind and matter. My characterization of the affinity between Manuela and Bernburg as necessarily anti-hierarchal is central to “Chapter 3: Reciprocity and LiminalityThreatening Authoritarianism.” By analyzing the gift and declaration scenes I demonstrate that the reciprocity fundamental to the women’s bond functions as a systemic critique. More specifically, their interconnectivity provides an immanent and loving alternative to the strict authoritarianism on which the functioning of the boarding school depends. I have demonstrated that the chemise-gift, as the tangible representation of Bernburg and Manuela’s passionate interconnectivity, acts as a catalyst in Manuela’s public declaration of love for her teacher. Moreover, Manuela’s declaration of love is rendered possible, as I have shown, due to the liminal qualities of the moment in which it takes place. Manuela’s punishment—via quarantine—connotes her status as a systemic threat. Her affinity with Bernburg jeopardizes the school’s authoritarianism by representing an alternative to it. The prevention of Manuela’s suicide points to a triumph over the school’s authoritarianism—the Headmistress is defied, and neither Manuela nor Bernburg are ever expelled from the system. It is precisely the affinity shared by the two women which represents an alternative ethical system which rejects hierarchies in favour of passionate interconnectivity. 116 With this in mind, my analysis of Mädchen in Uniform should be understood as related to scholarly endeavours, such as those undertaken by Dyer and Rich, to emphasize the importance of the film’s central themes of queerness and anti-authoritarianism, without favouring one over the other.2 Nevertheless, while inspired by Dyer and Rich, I have also sought to distinguish my work from theirs by examining Mädchen in Uniform from a primarily phenomenological perspective, without sacrificing the historical contextualization of the film. In all three chapters, my principal focus has been on the analysis of what is at stake in the depictions of interconnectivity and contact in this film. I understand this perspective as representative of an original approach to Mädchen in Uniform, and therefore as a means of contributing an original and thought-provoking reading to the vast body of scholarship already in existence on this film. Nevertheless, there are many other possible approaches to this film related to my discussion, which hopefully will be undertaken in the future. For example, the film’s positive thematization of taboo love as a threat to anti-authoritarianism, symbolized by Bernburg as a liminal mother-lover figure, might be examined specifically in connection to Sagan’s invocation of the German classical tradition in her choice to have the girls perform Schiller’s Don Carlos. Overall, and as the preceding chapters demonstrate, contact and intersubjectivity are pivotal to Mädchen in Uniform and have therefore been central to my phenomenological and historical reading of this film. This film’s depictions of erotic encounters between women, which I understand as founded on dynamic connectivity, provide an alternative to hierarchal encounters by privileging and exemplifying loving bonds experienced by desiring subjectivities. Ultimately, it is the affinity existing between Manuela and Bernburg that effectively dismantles the authoritarian structure of the boarding school, as the 2 Dyer, Richard D. “Less and More Than Women and Men: Lesbian and Gay Cinema in Weimar Germany.” New German Critique 51 Special Issue on Weimar Mass Culture (Autumn 1990), 5-60 and Rich, Ruby B. “From Oppressive Tolerance to Erotic Liberation: Maedchen in Uniform.” In Rich, Ruby B. Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1998, 179-206. 117 bond shared by the two women represents a powerful—and realized—immanent systemic critique. 118 LIST OF REFERENCES Adorno, Theodor W. Negative Dialectics. 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