In Performance and Femininity, Arons examines a series of texts by eighteenth-century German women in order to illuminate how women writers of the time used theater and performance both to investigate female subjectivity and to intervene in the dominant cultural discourse of femininity. Arons's study focuses on works featuring heroines who, for the most part?like their authors?lead lives with public dimensions, primarily by working as actresses. The texts she chooses all call attention to the difficulties that the eighteenth-century conception of the self as sincere and antitheatrical presented for women. By highlighting the fact that the social audience that determines a woman's reputation is almost always a fickle and untrustworthy "reader" of female subjectivity, these works expose the untenable position into which the discourse of sincerity placed women, paradoxically requiring them to perform the verynaivet? that was, by definition, not supposed to be performable. Arons's original argument takes an interdisciplinary approach, drawing from the fields of literary criticism, cultural studies, theatre history, and performance studies, and reveals how these women writers exposed ideal femininity as an impossible act, even as they attempted to reproduce that act in their writing and in their lives.