Author: rtobin

This essay tracks the increasing desexualization of the category of “friend” in German culture from the eighteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Whereas eighteenth-century depictions of friendship were full of sexual ambiguity that was noted at the time, nineteenth-century depictions of …

The Love that is Called Friendship and the Rise of Sexual Identity Read More »

Written in German, this essay investigates how Orientalism and the distinction between the West and its Others play out in such queer German films as Jochen Hick’s Via Appia (1990), Wieland Speck’s Westler (1985), Monika Treut’s My Father Is Coming …

Okzidentalismus: der verquerte Orientalismus im schwul-lesbischen deutschen Film Read More »

While “homosexuality” and “masochism” both emerge in sexological discourses around the same time, homosexual identity has taken a more concrete and politically potent form than masochistic identity. Beginning with examples of female masochists who go to physicians precisely in order …

Masochism and Identity Read More »

This brief review essay reports on the offerings of the 2000 Berlin Film Festival, including Wim Wenders’s Million Dollar Hotel, Pierre Sanoussi-Bliss’s Zurück auf Los, and Jochen Hick’s No One Sleeps. “Morality and German Film: The Berlinale 2000.” Film and …

Morality and German Film Read More »

This essay studies two important theoretical terms that relate both to medicine and literature: (1) Derrida’s pharmakon, which is both a poison and a cure, and which also stands in for writing itself; (2) semiotics, which is now typically understood …

Prescriptions: Medicine and Literature Read More »

This essay examines the decline of the sexually ambiguous category of “friendship.” In the eighteenth century, a friendship discourse flourished in German literature. A male author could publicly declare that he wanted to be another man’s wife. Contrary to quick …

Freundschaftsdämmerung: Johannes Müller, Sigismund Wiese, Friedrich Ramdohr und Heinrich Hössli Read More »

Slightly shorter than the piece on Death in Venice in the 1994 Norton anthology, this essay develops my thinking on the role of male-male desire in Thomas Mann’s famous novella. It concludes that the novella “may in fact achieve some insights into …

The Life and Work of Thomas Mann: A Gay Perspective Read More »

Starting with an entry in Klaus Mann’s diaries about a discussion with his father at the dinner table about Schiller’s possible homosexuality, this essay delves into a queer reading of Schiller’s Don Carlos. Ultimately the essay concludes: “Arguing that this creative …

Thomas Mann’s Queer Schiller Read More »

This seminal essay applies queer theory and deconstructive thought to Goethe’s thinking on male-male desire, concluding that “like pederasty, the text should be a pharmakon, both natural and unnatural, meaning both itself and the Other–in a word, heterotextual.” It appeared …

In and Against Nature: Goethe on Homosexuality and Heterotextuality Read More »

This essay was probably first essay focusing on same-sex desire in Mann’s Death in Venice to be in a collection aimed at student audiences. It provides background information about the homosexual emancipation movement in Germany during Mann’s lifetime and biographical …

Why is Tadzio a Boy? Perspectives on Homoeroticism in Death in Venice Read More »

Beginning with two of Goethe’s most famous poems, “Ganymed” and “Prometheus,” this essay argues that Faust unites the receptive, submissive, self-dissolving masculinity of “Ganymed” with the defiant, dominant, ego-centric masculinity of “Prometheus.” As the essay asserts, “Faust’s masculine desire for the eternal …

Faust’s Membership in Male Society Read More »

  “Two Medicinalizations of Androgyny in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre,” Semiotics 1990, ed. Karen Haworth, John Deely, and Terry Prewitt (Lanham, MD: UP of America, 1993) 294-301.

The first essay that I ever published in German was part of a guerrilla Festschrift in honor of Wolfram Mauser. We young research assistants, teaching assistants, assistant professors and scholars being supported by Mauser’s research projects were not eminent enough …

Das offene Geheimnis der Sexualität: Verhüllung und Enthüllung von Krankheit und Faschismus in den Schriften Thomas Manns Read More »

This essay looks at the character of Mignon from Goethe’s Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre in light of eighteenth-century medical discourses. It looks both at how the medicine of the time would have regarded her as pathological, but also at how the …

The Medicinalization of Mignon Read More »

This essay provides a  brief overview of eighteenth-century German medical thought on family, gender and sexuality before looking at the ways in which medical discourses are used to bolster heterosexual discourses in three important bildungsromane: Wieland’s Agathon, Moritz’s Anton Reiser, and Goethe’s Wilhelm …

Healthy Families: Medicine, Patriarchy, and Heterosexuality in 18th-Century German Novels Read More »

Joachim Pfeiffer, “Promethean Renunciation: On the Relationship of Artistry, Creativity, and Masochism in Goethe,” One Hundred Years of Masochism: Literary Texts, Social and Cultural Contexts, Psychoanalysis and Culture 10, ed. Michael Finke and Carl Niekerk (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000) 109-17.

Joachim Pfeiffer, “Friendship and Gender:  The Aesthetic Construction of Subjectivity in Kleist’s Letters and Literature,” Outing Goethe and His Age, ed. Alice Kuzniar (Stanford:  Stanford UP, 1996) 215-27.

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Postmodernism, ed. Charles E. Winquist and Victor Taylor (London:  Routledge, 2001): “queer theory” (326-28).

Gay Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia, ed. George Haggerty (New York:  Garland, 2000): German Literature (396-97), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (407-08), Heinrich Hössli (456-57), Thomas Mann (559-60).