Disrupted Values, Erupting Culture: Cabaret and the Sexual Persona in Weimar Berlin

18 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2020

See all articles by Sarah Lippek

Sarah Lippek

The Public Advocate; Seattle Human Rights Commission

Date Written: January 2008


Examining the rapid pace of innovation and artistic growth in Weimar Berlin, I will address the particularly German and particularly inter-war conditions that created the Weimar artistic scene. I argue that the remarkable creative fecundity of that time and place was due largely to the economic disruption of dizzying inflation, which caused a seismic shift away from traditional sexual mores. I believe that the opening of the sexual arena to new freedoms, new practices, new expressiveness, led directly to the explosion of culture, especially in the performing arts, exemplified here by cabaret. Weimar Berlin was alive with a uniquely intoxicating sexual atmosphere, because, I will argue, of eroding middle-class values, economic pressures leading to the increased commodification of sex, new freedoms of expression, changing forms of womanhood, and the increased visibility of 'deviant' sexual personae through popular culture. Berlin, in this context, reverses conventional notions of causality: it is not always innovation that spurs social change, but also the reverse. Social change and the disruption of norms can create a hothouse atmosphere which accelerates the growth and ripening of innovative artistic forms.

Keywords: Weimar, Weimar Republic, Berlin, Germany, German history, cabaret, theater, sexuality, art

Suggested Citation

Lippek, Sarah, Disrupted Values, Erupting Culture: Cabaret and the Sexual Persona in Weimar Berlin (January 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1079945 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1079945

Sarah Lippek (Contact Author)

The Public Advocate ( email )

1001 4th Ave Suite 4400
Seattle, WA 98154
United States

Seattle Human Rights Commission

810 Third Avenue, Suite 750
Seattle, WA 98104-1627
United States

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