Claire Scott wins 2018 Women in German Dissertation Prize

Congratulations to Claire E. Scott, who has won the Coalition of Women in German’s Dissertation Prize. Each year the organization selects one dissertation that best “reflect[s] the values of the Women in German Mission Statement; make[s] a substantial contribution to the current dialogue in the given area; and demonstrate[s] solid and innovative scholarship.”

In her dissertation, Murderous Mothers: Feminist Violence in German Literature and Film (1970-2000), Scott examines representations of violent mothers in late 20th century German literature and film. She employs close readings of works by Elfriede Jelinek, Dea Loher, Christa Wolf, R.W. Fassbinder and Helma Sanders-Brahms to generate an imaginary of violence that participates in feminist political discourses. By highlighting the interplay between thematic violence within these texts and aggressive transgressions of aesthetic conventions, Scott intervenes in the theoretical frameworks of feminist narratology and film theory, arguing that these works offer us not strategies for individual female emancipation, but rather models of collective and collaborative storytelling practices.

Over the course of revising this work into a book manuscript Scott has shifted her focus to the melodramatic mode. This enables her to account for the role of affect as a motivating force behind these acts of literary and filmic violence. In this book project, Murderous Mothers: Melodramatic Violence as Feminist Politics, Scott highlights the central role played by negatively-connotated affects (especially anger) in the discourses of the German New Women’s Movement. She argues that by representing women not only as victims, but as perpetrators of melodramatic violence, these works open up spaces for reimagining gendered roles and family structures.

Claire Scott joined the Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies in 2012 and graduated from the program in 2017. She also earned a Certificate in Feminist Studies from the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University. She is currently a Teaching Assistant Professor in German at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She writes: “Winning the WiG Dissertation Prize is such an incredible honor, particularly because the award affirms my contribution not only to the field of German Studies, but Gender Studies as well. As a scholar two of my aims are to articulate the importance of feminist movements within the German context and to highlight contributions by German speakers to global feminisms. My hope is that the book that results from revising this dissertation will accomplish these goals by exploring a specifically German contribution to contemporary feminist affect theory.”