Franzi Finkenstein

PhD Student, German; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Franzi Finkenstein is a Ph.D. student in Germanic Languages and Literatures, with a Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. In her research, Franzi investigates the performance of identity formation in letters, diaries, poems, and self-portraits of German-Jewish women writers and visual artists, active between 1870-1945. She is specifically interested in how these women respond to processes of assimilation, acculturation, secularization, in times when race science defined chromatic distinctions between ‘Germans’ and ‘Jews,’ and produced ideological racialized stereotypes to justify systemic othering. Autobiographical works are particularly useful to fathom questions about these cultural processes since they give information about the harmful effects, but also practices of resistance to discriminatory mechanisms, produced during historical transformations that caused increasing existential precarity for the German-Jewish diaspora (from German colonial Empire, to rise of antisemitism and fascism, ending with the breaking point marked by the Holocaust). In moving beyond binary frames of mobility v. immobility, core culture v. subculture, and center v. margin to approach the heterogenous experiences of German-Jewish peoples, Franzi’s work seeks to give a fresh dialectical and interdisciplinary perspective on the history of German Jewry.