Berghahn Books turns 25! Get 25% off all books!
Berghahn Books Logo

berghahn New York · Oxford

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
Mad Mädchen: Feminism and Generational Conflict in Recent German Literature and Film

View Table of Contents

Email Newsletters

Sign up for our email newsletters to get customized updates on new Berghahn publications.

Click here to select your preferences

Mad Mädchen

Feminism and Generational Conflict in Recent German Literature and Film

Margaret McCarthy

25th Anniversary Sale, 25% off all books! Add coupon code BB25

270 pages, 13 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-569-3 25% OFF! $150.00/£107.00 $112.50/£80.25 Hb Published (July 2017)

ISBN  978-1-78920-499-5 25% OFF! $34.95/£24.00 $26.21/£18.00 Pb Published (June 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78533-570-9 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! 25% off $34.95 $26.21 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“In navigating the material, McCarthy manages to capture girlish playfulness and its activist potential while projecting forward and providing a new reading of important historical movements. Written in accessible prose, the book bridges gaps between activism and theory…Highly Recommended.” • Choice

“…an optimistic and forward-looking exploration of German feminism. Offering insightful analyses of individual works through a feminist lens, it articulates a utopian vision for the future, one built on the foundation a conceptual pairing that recurs as a refrain throughout the book: ‘difference and affinity’…Her book has both serious academic and social agenda that should be of broad interest.” • Seminar. A Journal of German Studies

“At once broad in scope and deep in its readings of individual texts, this important book marks an essential contribution to the scholarship on literary and public developments in feminism in Germany since 1990. One of its strengths is the thorough contextualization of feminist debates within a much longer history of feminist engagement in the German cultural context and in diverse feminist theoretical frameworks.” • German Studies Review

“Her book forms a valuable contribution to thinking about contemporary German feminism. its complex readings of novels and films are underpinned by astute discussions of theory and informed by an acute awareness of relevant trends and tendencies in German culture. The book is particularly illuminating  on anger and contempt, mother-daughter relations, and solidarity, that ongoing project. McCarthy’s evocation of the polyphony of feminist voices that gain power from each other as they reach both back into the past and forward into the future is particularly productive and compelling.” • The German Quarterly

“This book is not for those new to these primary texts, but, for those who are curious about contemporary feminisms and their complicated, messy, and awkward expressions, it provides rich reading.” • Feminist German Studies

“McCarthy’s study traverses a rather broad terrain of contemporary cultural products with incredible depth… McCarthy’s text brings into critical relief pressing questions about gender constructs, embodied femininities, and historiography in contemporary Germany. And, as with any good scholarship, it leaves readers yearning to find out more about how the key themes explored here will play out in fiction and reality in future decades.” • Studies in 20th & 21st-Century Literature

Mad Mädchen tells an original and important story about contemporary feminisms, one that moves beyond received (teleological, and often reductive) accounts of feminist waves, to argue for an understanding of the contradictions in feminism today as aesthetically and politically generative. McCarthy’s arguments emerge powerfully over the course of this book.” • Hester Baer, University of Maryland


The last two decades have been transformational, often discordant ones for German feminism, as a new cohort of activists has come of age and challenged many of the movement’s strategic and philosophical orthodoxies. Mad Mädchen offers an incisive analysis of these trans-generational debates, identifying the mother-daughter themes and other tropes that have defined their representation in German literature, film, and media. Author Margaret McCarthy investigates female subjectivity as it processes political discourse to define itself through both differences and affinities among women. Ultimately, such a model suggests new ways of re-imagining feminist solidarity across generational, ethnic, and racial lines.

Margaret McCarthy is Professor of German Studies at Davidson College, where she also teaches film and media studies. She has published articles on contemporary German literature, film, and feminism in journals such as Camera Obscura, German Quarterly, New German Critique, and Oxford German Studies. She co-edited the Women in German Yearbook as well as Light Motives: German Popular Film in Perspective (2003). More recently she edited Pop Literature: A Companion (2015).

Subject: Gender Studies Media Studies Film Studies
Area: Germany


List of Illustrations


Chapter 1. German Feminism in the 2000s: Brains, Bodies, and Bridges
Chapter 2. Lost Objects, Monsters, and Melancholia in Zöe Jenny’s The Pollen Room (1999), Alexa Hennig von Lange’s Relax (1999), and Elke Naters’ Lies (1999)
Chapter 3. Dialogical and Borderline Selfhood in Charlotte Roche’s Wetlands (2008) and Wrecked (2011)
Chapter 4. Girls Gone Wild: Ulrike Meinhof, Uschi Obermeier, and Feminist Fantasies of ‘68
Chapter 5. Counter-Cinema, Crossing Bridges, and Future Feminisms: Christian Petzold’s The State I Am In (2000) and Fatih Akin’s The Edge of Heaven (2007)
Chapter 6. Mutable Mädchen: on Screen and in the Streets


Back to Top