Parenthood and Emancipation: Representations in Contemporary German-speaking Literature
Helga W. Kraft (University of Illinois at Chicago) [BIO]
My presentation focuses on the shifting uneven roles mothers and fathers as well as the government play in raising children. I am searching on the one hand for indications of transformations, and on the other hand for blind spots regarding an existing major problem in society related to this subject. Up to now literary texts have either largely omitted addressing parenting of the next generation, or have berated the impossibility for significant change in parental role distribution due to the structure of our society, in which politicians still subtly advocate the patriarchal status quo and fathers often don’t take on an equal share.
I will briefly present sociological findings and results of recent cultural studies. In addition, I will summarize communal and political efforts, such as decisions regarding the length of the school day and the availability of kindergartens, as well as changes in the corporate world. Also, I will trace the benefits of gender mainstreaming efforts by European governmental agencies.
My paper tries to discover, if there are any new trends for raising children that could lead to a new and equal distribution of parental roles at a time when women have become breadwinners, as well. By analyzing literary texts I would like to find out, if a need for change is ignored or intensified by these publications.