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Tracing the Heroic Through Gender


In most societies the heroic is in many ways gendered. When considering the heroic, attributes of masculinity might first come to mind. Yet, from a historical perspective it becomes apparent that heroizations also often have feminine connotations. The social and cultural production of the heroic cannot be analyzed exclusively in terms of masculinity, nor can we regard women or femininity merely as exceptions in this field. Rather, we need to reconsider the relational character of the category gender.

We propose to use gender as an analytical tool in a new way. Metaphorically speaking, gender as a ›tracer‹ can help us uncover new aspects of heroic ideas and concepts. In natural science experiments, a ›tracer‹ passes through different environments and reacts to each of them in a different way. Hence, the tracer is not the object of study, but is used to examine a third element: our conference shall try to use gender systematically to ›trace‹ various historical ›environments‹ of the heroic.

By using gender as a tracer, the conference will explore forms, mediums and processes of heroization as well as discourses of heroic transgression, exceptionality or veneration. The conference will focus on three points in time (1650, 1750, 1850) and the continuities and transformations that may become apparent from interrelating the tracing results in a diachronic perspective.

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