Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS) Workshop on Gender and Women in Russia’s Great War and Revolution, 1914-1922

June 21-24, 2018

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Facilitators: Adele Lindenmeyr (Professor of History and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Villanova University) and Melissa Stockdale (Professor of History, University of Oklahoma)

A 3-day workshop organized by the Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS) will coordinate the research of up to 15 scholars across a variety of fields for a planned publication to examine women’s gains and losses in the period as well as the influence of war and revolution on gender identity and representation, cultural mores surrounding public and sexual behavior, and creative expression by men and women. Such a study can provide unique and valuable insights for comparative work on the all-too-frequent periods of violence and conflict that have continued to affect women around the world in the century since the Great War. The research program thus addresses an important area of international policy relevance. This workshop is made possible by funding from the Department of State’s Program for the Study of Eastern Europe and the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (Title VIII).

Workshop sessions on June 22 and 23 will take place in 308 Main Library (1408 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana, IL 61801).

Workshop Program

Historical Context and Significance

While agreeing on the unprecedented nature and extent of European and American women’s participation in the Great War, historians have disagreed about its effect on their economic, social and political status. Some insist that the war had a lasting transformative impact, symbolized by the enfranchisement of women in Russia, Britain, the US, Austria and Germany shortly after the war’s end. They point to the mass influx of women into public life, their new economic roles between 1914 and 1918, and their increased access to educational and professional opportunities. Others, however, see the war as reinforcing rather than permanently changing the patriarchal order and traditional gender ideologies. Women were expelled from the workplace once men returned from the front; their access to new kinds of jobs often proved to be a temporary concession to wartime emergencies. The war’s catastrophic mortality and declining birth rates resulted in renewed emphasis on women’s essential identity as mothers and caregivers.

There can be little argument about the extent or permanence of World War I’s impact on the women of the Russian Empire. There the war, which was prolonged by four more years of revolution and civil conflict, exerted its power to both liberate and destroy on a scale unsurpassed elsewhere in Europe. On the positive side, the war accelerated improvements in women’s status and opportunities that had begun to take place years before 1914, such as increased access to education and the professions, and the sporadic but inexorable expansion of their civil rights. It provided women with increased opportunities for public service and a channel to express their patriotism. The advancement of Russian women during the war reached a climax in July 1917, when a new law guaranteed them full political rights, ahead of women in all other nations involved in the war except New Zealand and Australia.

But Russian women’s gains in civil and political status must be measured against the demographic and economic catastrophes that befell their nation over the course of the Great War and its long revolutionary epilogue. The military and civil conflicts of those years turned millions of women into widows and refugees, orphaned their children, decimated their family networks, and ruined their household economies. As successive waves of revolution swept over the country, concepts of citizenship, patriotism, and gender were redefined in ways that benefited some women, but excluded others.

The task for historians of women and gender in Russia during this period extend far beyond drawing up a balance sheet, though assessing women’s short- and long-term gains and losses remains important. Also worthy of study is the influence of war and revolution on gender identity and representation, cultural mores surrounding public and sexual behavior, and creative expression by women and men. In-depth and comprehensive historical study of women and gender Russia from 1914 to 1922 can provide unique and valuable insights for comparative work on the all-too-frequent periods of violence and conflict that have continued to affect women around the world in the century since the Great War.

Participation

Participation will be limited to a maximum of fifteen historians and scholars in related fields, such as art history, whose paper proposals have been approved by the co-organizers. Participants will circulate their papers in advance, so that workshop sessions are devoted to discussion of both individual papers and the broader historical issues surrounding the topic of women and gender in periods of war, revolutionary upheaval and civil conflict. Participants will be required to attend the entire workshop.

Workshop Outcomes

The workshop co-organizers are members of the editorial team of the multi-volume series Russia’s Great War and Revolution, published by Slavica Publishers in Bloomington, Indiana. They have each edited volumes that have already been published in the series, and serve as co-editors of a projected volume in the series with the working title Women and Gender in War and Revolution: Russia 1914-1922.

The papers presented at the AWSS-REEEC workshop will be edited for publication in Women and Gender in War and Revolution: Russia 1914-1922, which has a projected publication date of 2019.

This year’s Workshop is a sponsored activity of the Summer Research Laboratory (or SRL).

Participants are encouraged to take advantage of the SRL’s resources to extend their stay  (before and /or after the workshop). This will allow them to take advantage of our Library’s rich collections, consult with the bibliographers of our Slavic Reference Service, and enjoy the quiet atmosphere of our Midwestern university town.

To register and receive available conference support for this year’s Workshop, please use the following instructions.

Registration

To start, all Workshop participants are asked to register for the SRL, available through this link:

http://reeec.illinois.edu/programming-and-events/summer-research-laboratory/srlapplication/

Please check the box signaling your interest in the AWSS Workshop.  The registration fee that is listed will be waived for all workshop participants.

Conference Support

The Summer Research Lab is supported by a generous grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Program for Research and Training on Eastern Europe and the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (Title VIII). Thanks to this grant, and a small amount of independent funding, we are able to offer Housing and Travel grants to cover some costs. In addition, U.S. researchers staying for more than five days (including the Workshop) are eligible for a generous Stipend for expenses, as described below.

Please use the Financial Aid section of the SRL Application to apply for this funding.

Financial support from the Title VIII Program is available to US Citizens only. Title VIII exists to promote research into areas of knowledge relevant to policy discussions. US Citizens applying for Title VIII support are asked to provide a short (100 word) statement on how their research relates to this objective. The US Department of State maintains an Office of Global Women’s Issues (https://www.state.gov/s/gwi/index.htm; see also @GenderAtState), whose policy objectives include a number of priorities meant to advance gender equality and the status of women and girls around the world. We encourage you to visit this site while thinking about how your work may relate to Title VIII’s research priorities, as well as to contact the conference organizers or REEEC with any questions you may have about this portion of the application.

Although the Financial Aid we have available for non-U.S. Citizens is more limited, we encourage international participants to apply through this system as well, and will try to provide resources as we can.

Housing and Housing Grants

Housing for the Workshop will be at Presby Hall, an on-campus dormitory, in a three-person suite with private bedrooms but two shared bathrooms. The costs for these rooms is $46 per person, per night. Individual suites are also available, at $92 per night.

The Housing Grants available through our Financial Aid system cover the $46 per night charge for the three-person suites. Participants receiving grants but who prefer individual suites will be asked to cover the difference between these two rates.