Willing Seduction: <i>The Blue Angel</i>, Marlene Dietrich, and Mass Culture

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Berghahn Books, May 30, 2009 - Social Science - 208 pages
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Josef von Sternberg's 1930 film The Blue Angel (Der blaue Engel) is among the best known films of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933). A significant landmark as one of Germany's first major sound films, it is known primarily for launching Marlene Dietrich into Hollywood stardom and for initiating the mythic pairing of the Austrian-born American director von Sternberg with the star performer Dietrich.

This fascinating cultural history of The Blue Angel provides a new interpretive framework with which to approach this classic Weimar film and suggests that discourses on mass and high culture are integral to the film's thematic and narrative structure. These discourses surface above all in the relationship between the two main characters, the cabaret entertainer Lola Lola (Marlene Dietrich) and the high school teacher Immanuel Rath (one-time Oscar winner Emil Jannings). In addition to offering insight into some of the major debates that informed the Weimar Republic, this book demonstrates that similar issues continue to shape the contemporary cultural landscape of Germany. Barbara Kosta thus also looks at Dietrich as a contemporary cultural icon and at her symbolic value since German unification and at Lola Lola's various "incarnations."

 

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Contents

Chapter 1Mass Entertainment and Serious Culture
23
Chapter 2Distraction Deception and Visuality
53
Weimars Modern Woman
85
Chapter 4The Seductions of Sound
111
Dietrich Germany and Mass Culture
141
The Credits
167
Bibliography
185
Index
191
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About the author (2009)

Barbara Kosta is Professor in the Department of German Studies and an affiliated faculty member of Women's Studies and Media Arts at the University of Arizona, where she teaches courses on twentieth-century and contemporary German literature, culture, and film. She is the author of Recasting Autobiography: Women's Counterfictions in Contemporary German Literature and Film (1994), co-author of the first-year German textbook auf deutsch! (1990), and co-editor of Writing Against Boundaries: Gender, Ethnicity and Nationality in the German-speaking Context (2003).

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