Masquerade and Femininity: Essays on Russian and Polish Women Writers
Masquerade and Femininity: Essays on Russian and Polish Women Writers introduces the reader to the diversity of women’s writing in Poland and Russia in the 19th and 20th centuries in the light of the notion of masquerade. The present articles scrutinize particular works by women writers (Nadezhda Dmitrievna Khvoshchinskaia, Irina Odoevtseva, Vera Pavlova, Narcyza Żmichowska, Maria Komornicka, Irena Krzywicka and others) and the strategies of masquerading female experience.
Taken together, the articles draw attention to the feeling of an inexpressible gap between the living body (and its everyday life experience of pain and suffering or happiness and pleasure) and the culturally constructed, powerfully imposed code of expression that readily makes use of various masks, guises and acts of pretending, applied especially cleverly in literary works. The concept of masquerade illuminates the complexity of what we call “femininity” by combining two sides of the divide: the real feelings and the constructed expressions.
This volume uses both feminist and non-feminist approaches to women’s writing and sheds new light on the themes of femininity, woman’s identity, experience, masks, body, gender relations, nature, culture and authorship.
Masquerade and Femininity brings together East European literary studies and gender studies, offering a comparative perspective on literature, literary theory and cultural phenomena in Poland and Russia, and featuring a range of both eastern European and western scholars. In its pages, the reader is invited to move beyond Russian literature and language into a dialogic approach between Slavic literatures.
This book will also contribute to filling the comparative gap which is still relatively unexplored not only with regard to the application of western scholarship to East European studies, but also with regard to the dialogue between Russian and Polish scholarship.
Urszula Chowaniec is a researcher at the Department of Russian Language and Culture, University of Tampere, Finland. She also researches and teaches at the Jagiellonian University and the Akademia Pedagogiczna in Kraków, Poland. She gained her PhD in literary studies at the Jagiellonian University in 2004 and is the author of In Search of Woman: On the Early Novels of Irena Krzywicka (W poszukiwaniu kobiety. O wczesnych powieściach Ireny Krzywickiej, 2007). She has published on women’s writing, literary theory and literary history.
Ursula Phillips is Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. Her PhD thesis was on religion and feminism in Narcyza Żmichowska. She is a contributor to and co-editor of Gender and Sexuality in Ethical Context: Ten Essays on Polish Prose (2005) and co-author of Polish Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present Day (Pisarki polskie od średniowiecza do współczesności, 2000).
Marja Rytkönen is a researcher at the University of Tampere, Department of Russian Language and Culture. Her PhD dissertation analysed Russian women's autobiographical texts of the 1990s. She is a contributor to and joint editor of Real Stories, Imagined Realities: Fictionality and Non-fictionality in Literary Constructs and Historical Contexts (2007).
"I am absolutely convinced that no scholar interested in Russian and Polish women’s literature will be able to get by without this book, which forms an excellent introduction both to the literary material and to Slavic (Russian and Polish) feminist studies. The contributors’ fascinating close readings, their insightful analyses and the in-depth knowledge of the subject revealed by the introduction make up an impressive whole and encourage further research."
—Professor Grażyna Borkowska, Institute of Literary Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences
"Masquerade and Femininity brings together an impressive range of internationally-based, established and emerging scholars in the field of gender studies in Polish and/or Russian literature (including Irina Adelgeym, Arja Rosenholm, Mariia Litovskaia, Evgeniia Stroganova and Lidia Wiśniewska). Contributors are based in the UK, Russia, Poland, Finland and the USA, and between them offer a wealth of experience in the field of gender studies in Polish and/or Russian literature. With contributions spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Masquerade and Femininity offers new perspectives on Polish and Russian women’s writing and the construction of femininity. This collection considers the western feminist theory of “masquerade” in an eastern European context, and in so doing raises important questions about the universal applicability of theory, and the stability of conceptual boundaries between “East” and “West”, as well as providing valuable textual analyses of the works in question."
—Carol Adlam, University of Exeter
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