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Magdalena Koch

Is Constantin Brunner right? Concepts of Women’s Writing in Isidora Sekuli?’s essays in Western European and Serbian contexts


I am going to discuss the essays by Isidora Sekuli? (1877-1958), one of the Serbian authors who have been included in the WomenWriters database. She devoted her texts to problems of gender, feminism and started in Serbia in 1911 an unconventional dialogue/polemics with misogynist ideas of West European philosophers at the beginning of 20th century like Constantin Brunner (1862-1937) or Otto Weininger (1880-1903).

The first part of my presentation will explain the reasons for the genre of the essay being an optimal form of women’s participation in culture and literary history, and also why Isidora Sekuli? used it very often when referring to her concept of foreign and domestic female writers contribution. What this genre allowed to its user was formal and thematic independence in the expression of the concept of the self, strenghthening the voice of a female author as well as the expression of her intellectual beliefs.

The next part of the paper will present Isidora Sekuli?’s essay written in 1911 entitled "Is Constantin Brunner right?" and her polemics with the claims of this German philosopher of Jewish origin C. Brunner on the inferiority of woman’s mind. In my opinion this short Sekuli?’s text is essential for her attitude to women’s creative work. Here she establishes the rules of her challenging feminism developed later.

Finally, the paper will present Sekuli?’s essays devoted to her reception of European women writers, such as Virginia Woolf, Selma Lagerlöf, Françoise Sagan as well as Serbian women (Danica Markovi?, Jelena Dimitrijevi?, Milica Jankovi?, Milica Kosi? Selem). I would like to underline the differences of this reception. Isidora Sekuli? tried to describe the well-known West European female writers according to a “universal” (male) paradigm, whereas her opinions about little-known Serbian female writers were formulated more often in gender (female/feminist) key.

AsK, September 2012

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