Changing Cultural Life in Germany – Things You Should Know 
A combination of factors resulted in the changes that took place in German social and cultural life between 1923 and 1929. German society had been greatly affected by the First World War, which resulted in a breaking down of barriers between social classes and a shift in gender expectations. One result of this was increased liberalism, which allowed for the emergence of a climate in which artists and intellectuals – many of whom were Jews – could flourish in Germany. Another effect of increased liberalism was the establishment of a powerful underground culture that was largely based on sexual liberalism and involved the spread of prostitution and erotic nightclubs, many of which catered to sexual dissidents (homosexuals and transsexuals). The appointment of Gustav Stresemann to Chancellor in 1923 was a significant factor influencing social and cultural change in Germany. The resulting five years of increased political stability and economic prosperity resulted in improved living standards for the average German, and a decrease in social and political opposition to the Weimar government. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and subsequent Depression was a significant factor influencing social change in Germany, and leading ultimately to the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazi party. With the Nazis coming into power came a period of repression and extreme control; Nazi policies emphasised state control of the individual and sought to reinstate old-world gender and social values in an extreme way, thus changing social and cultural life in Germany.
There are several problems for an historian attempting to gain an understanding of the motives of Alexander the Great. Firstly, lack of available primary source material is extremely limiting. Most of our main available sources for Alexander are written centuries after his death, and though several of them may well have relied quite heavily on eye-witness accounts, we have very little of this evidence left to be able to substantially verify the accuracy of their dealings with the source material. Also, Alexander’s motives may well have shifted throughout the course of his campaign; Alexander may have begun his campaign out of necessity (economic and military necessity), but his continued expansion and later Orientalism may indicate that his motives shifted dramatically as his invasion wore on. Furthermore, it is common for historians to have a particular interpretation of Alexander’s personality, and this will have a significant influence on the interpretation of his motives, as it encourages us to unconsciously some pieces of evidence as more significant or relevant than others, or to disregard other logical arguments that contradict our own perspective.
Mary Lavin and Edna O’Brien explore the social rejection experienced by women who fail to conform to society’s expectations (particularly ascribed gender roles) in their short stories ‘The Will’ and ‘Creature.’ Lavin in particular was writing during a time when the Roman Catholic church held a great deal of sway in Irish society, and when the rightful, natural role of women was being presented (by Church doctrine and the literary world alike) as being wives and mothers. Both authors attempted to challenge these social and religious parameters through the representation of women in unorthodox situations and their (often negative) experiences.
Shakespeare’s play ‘Othello’ provides a commentary on the contextual belief in the inferiority of dark races. Othello’s transformation under the guidance of Iago provides an ironic insight into the racial attitudes of Shakespeare’s time; Othello is not naturally jealous or unstable, but becomes the extreme stereotype of his race because of the influence of white society. The characterisation of Othello and the juxtaposition of his good character with Iago’s evil, manipulative character reveals Shakespeare’s belief that such stereotypes were absurd and the consequences far reaching. Shakespeare uses his characters, and their interactions to reflect the racial inequality of his time and to lead his audience to question these attitudes and to take responsibility for the effects of stereotyping and cultural inequality.
The following is an extract from our student 'Othello' essay scaffold and study guide pack, focusing on the opening scene of the play through a race-centred analysis.
Our primary contributor is Elissa, who is a qualified high school teacher and Irlen Screener.