Exploring “The Vamp” in German Comedies – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Exploring “The Vamp” in German Comedies

Assistant Professor of German Mihaela Petrescu has recently published an essay titled “Unmasking Brigitte Helm and Marlene Dietrich: The Vamp in German Romantic Comedies (1930-1933)” in the collection of essays The Many Faces of Weimar Cinema. Rediscovering Germany’s Filmic Legacy (Camden House, 2010).

In her essay, which is part of a larger research project on social dances in Weimar, Germany, Petrescu argues that German comedies of the early 1930s represent a creative stance against silent era melodramas and their central figure, the vamp. She demonstrates that Brigitte Helm and Marlene Dietrich, the German vamp icons of the early 1930s, are thoroughly demythologized through the satirical use of make-up, fashion, dance mannerisms and body postures.

In addition to teaching German language courses, Petrescu has taught many classes at HWS that fit in with her particular scholarly interests. The topics of these courses range from Berlin’s representation in film and literature, to Germany’s image in film, to the 1920s in Berlin and New York.  

Petrescu joined the faculty in 2008 after holding teaching positions at both Hamilton College and Indiana University, Bloomington. She received an MA from the Universitatea Bucuresti as well as an MA and a Ph.D from Indiana University Bloomington.

In the photo above, Petrescu teaches a class in Stern Hall.