The Female Poetics of Crime in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s ‘Mademoiselle Scuderi'

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Abstract

This paper explores the role of the female detective in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “Das Fräulein von Scuderi” (“Mademoiselle Scuderi”) against the backdrop of the trope of the silent, passive, poetic female associated with nineteenth-century detective stories. Focusing on the character and methodology of Scuderi, I show how Scuderi, by contrast, successfully competes against her male counterparts by using both logic and distinctly female-encoded qualities such as intuition, compassion and imagination to function as a generative, poetic force. This reading counters the traditional views in Anglo-American studies of Edgar Allen Poe’s Dupin as the first prototypical detective; so too it shows against German studies’ readings how Hoffmann’s text must be considered the first modern detective story not despite of but rather because of its first female detective. I contextualize this reading within Hoffmann’s ideas of poetic representation as the serapiontic idea; I also consider how the image of the
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
JournalWomen in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature & Culture. University of Nebraska Press
StatePublished - 2008

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