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Elissa Mailänder, “Self-Confident, Autonomous, and Liberated? Politicized Gender Relations in Nazi Entertainment Movies, 1939-1945”

September 25, 2019 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Elissa Mailänder, Associate Professor, Sciences Po Paris

Sponsored by the Center for German & European Studies and the the Department of German, Nordic & Slavic.


The Nazis were masterful consumers of modern media, despite their aversion to what they considered the perilous trappings of modernity.They drew upon a wide array of media to first mobilize voters, then consolidate power, and, ultimately, to motivate German citizens in the waging of war.

The flourishing German film industry lured more than a million spectators per year into movie theaters during the war era. Blockbusters such as Wunschkonzert (Dream Concert), Die grosse Liebe (The Great Love), or Zwei in einer grossen Stadt (Two People in a Big City) explicitly targeted a young public who craved entertainment, romance, adventure, and escapism from the realities of war. By situating these action films and romantic comedies with contemporaneous events, the movies showcased a “fun” and dynamic Nazi society while promoting highly politicized images of “modern” gender relations.


Elissa Mailänder is an Associate Professor at Sciences Po Paris where she works at the Center for History and serves as a Deputy Director of the Centre interdisciplinaire d’études et de recherches sur l’Allemagne. Originally trained as a comparative literary scholar at the University of Vienna and the University Paris-Sorbonne, she earned her doctoral degree in Contemporary History and Historical Anthropology from the EHESS Paris and the University of Erfurt in 2007. In addition to her book, Female SS Guards and Workaday Violence: The Majdanek Concentration Camp, 1942–1944 (Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2015), she has published several articles on perpetrator history and the mechanisms and dynamics of violence in Nazi concentration and extermination camps. In her recently completed project, Love, Marriage, Sex: An Intimate History of Nazi Germany, 1930-1950, she examined friendship, intimacy and heterosexual relationships in Nazi Germany, highlighting the importance of mass participation and practices of everyday conformity to dictatorship. Hence her work focuses primarily on 20th century Germany and Austria and her research and teaching interests are in the fields of the history and theory of violence, gender and sexuality; material culture; and the history and theory of the everyday.



September 25, 2019
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


206 Ingraham
1155 Observatory Dr
Madison, WI 53706
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