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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Luise Gottsched

b. 1713, Danzig, Germany (now Gdansk, Poland); d. 1762, Leipzig, Germany

Luise Adelgunde Gottsched’s marriage to a brilliant but domineering intellectual determined the course of her career as a woman of letters. She was sixteen when her courtship with Johann Christoph Gottsched began. A professor of poetry at the University of Leipzig, Gottsched tutored Luise in the Enlightenment ideals that constituted his reform program for German culture. Even before their marriage in 1735, she assisted him in the production of a journal to disseminate his literary policies and translated the works of British and French authors that exemplified his theories. Beginning in 1736, she wrote or adapted several comedies for the stage. As a playwright, she brought to her husband’s rigid insistence on the superiority of French models a gift for satiric invention with a didactic purpose. Her best-known play, Die Pietisterey im Fischbein-Rocke (Piety in a Hoop Skirt, 1736), was banned in several cities. Not surprisingly, Luise Gottsched was unsympathetic to feminist arguments and careful to convey that she had no desire to usurp masculine privilege, criticizing other women who appeared to do so, for instance, the Italian scientist Laura Bassi.