Synopses & Reviews
This book analyses the ideas of the Swedish journalist, feminist, and literary author Elin Wagner (1882-1949), as conveyed in her book Vackarklocka (1941), in a European feminist context. This context is presented in terms of three elements. Firstly, the German sociologist/educationalist Mathilde Vaerting and her sociology of power played an important role in Wagner's development of a theory of matriarchy. Secondly, the influence of the Austrian feminist Rosa Mayreder and her theory of masculine civilization and feminine culture are analyzed in relation to Wagner's development of what might be called an early ecological feminism. Thirdly, the mainly unknown Women's Organization for World Order (WOWO) is presented. 0s and 1930s, which wanted to strengthen women's position and confidence as political citizens by providing them with a historical past where women ruled (matriarchy). Thereby they not only reinvented a past, but also revitalized the emergence or eternity of patriarchy. These women discussed the possibility of women offering an alternative to the prevailing order. A special analysis is made of Mayreder's and Wagner's way of discussing what woman is and in what ways she can challenge the system. Both argued that women ought to have the same rights and duties as men, but that this should not require them to adapt to the distorted male system. This study argues that this position, easily characterized as essentialist in modern feminist terms, is in fact functional and strongly emancipatory in its time and context. In this reevaluation of Vackarklocka Katarina Leppanen has established this important Swedish novel as a text central to the development of the feminist movement. Elin Wagner's Alarm Clock is a book suitable for students of Swedish Literature and European Feminism.
In what way did ecological feminist thinking contribute to feminist criticism of the prevailing social order during the interwar period? This book shows how ecology was part of both matriarchalist and political feminist thinking in the period.