Quiet Rebellion: Emmy Hennings and the Politics of Subversion

Charles Terry Marcrum II


Amidst the clamor and upheaval of World War I, Zurich proved to be fertile ground for a blossoming literary and artistic movement dedicated to the eradication of the social, political, and creative norms which allowed the war to come about, through a campaign of abstraction and reduction into Nichtigkeit (Nothingness). This was Dada. The means by which this campaign was made operational were varied, as were the many artists and writers who placed themselves on the front lines. One such artist, Emmy Hennings, has, in recent years, become the subject of increased examination and debate, due to her problematic and twice-marginalized position as both a woman and a liberated avant-garde within a still-repressive Wilhelmine society. Under intense scrutiny is the question of whether Hennings served as a leader of the Zurich Dada movement, or as a passive follower, operating under her husband’s able direction; whether she used the Dada movement as a platform on which to voice her contrary opinions or simply as an outlet for politically and socially indifferent self-expression, as some modern scholars contend.


Dada; Expressionism; Gender Relations

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15695/vurj.v4i0.2775

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