Jamie Dortch

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Joseph Perry - Chair


The German artist Kaethe Kollwitz challenged the cultural constraints placed on women during the Weimar Republic. My thesis analyzes the artwork of Kollwitz and the effects of maternal imagery within the political debates of abortion reform, sexual equality and pacifism in the 1920s and explores historians’ use of the ideas of maternal feminism to understand Kollwitz’s art. I challenge the social constructs of private versus public spheres to illustrate the diversity of experience and the agency of women like Kollwitz who manipulated these spheres. I argue that Kaethe Kollwitz gained a voice within the public domain by creating artwork and imagery that focused on the private sphere. Using these images of motherhood, Kollwitz manipulated gender roles and created new spaces for the female experience in public discourse, particularly regarding maternal feminism, abortion reform, and pacifism.

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