Primary Project: Convinced that sexual immorality and unstable gender norms were endangering national recovery after WWI, German lawmakers drafted a constitution in 1919 that legalized the censorship of movies and pulp fiction and prioritized social rights over individual rights. These provisions enabled legislations to adopt two national censorship laws intended to regulate the movie industry and retail trade in pulp fiction. “Trash,” Censorship, and National Identity in Early Twentieth Century Germany (Cambridge, June 2016) argues that both laws had their ideological origins in grass-roots anti-“trash” campaigns inspired by early encounters with commercial mass culture and Germany’s federalist structure. Before WWI, activists characterized censorship as a form of youth protection. After WWI, they described it as a form of social welfare. The local activists and authorities that enforced the decisions of federal censors made censorship familiar and respectable, even as these laws became a lightning rod for criticism of the young republic. Nazi leaders subsequently refashioned anti-“trash” rhetoric to justify the stringent censorship regime they imposed on Germany.
Second Project: What did it mean to be a Nazi girl, and what were the defining characteristics of Nazi girlhood? While prior histories have studied girls’ experiences in organizations like the BDM, missing is a comprehensive study of Nazi girlhood, one that addresses numerous questions. For example, what legal markers existed in Nazi Germany to demarcate girlhood from womanhood? How did movies, books, magazines, and movies created for female youth help to construct girlhood? How were the gender and sexual norms surrounding girlhood different from those of womanhood? How did Nazi girlhood align with the government’s political goals and potentially deepen the regime’s appeal? My current research project studies the cultural and legal construction of girlhood in Nazi Germany, examines how girlhood intersected with Nazi gender norms, and analyzes the regime’s use of girlhood to solicit participant and support of war and colonization projects.