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Stohler, Russian women’s writing and Europe

Within this large framework, and continuing on previous work that has resulted in the database Corinna, I will study the influences of European women’s writing in Russia. These influences comprise the following aspects:

1. Russian women writers responses to one another’s works
As a first step, it is important to establish to what extent Russian women writers were influenced by one another’s works. Preliminary research results suggest that these kinds of influences were far more strongly developed than has been known so far.

2. Russian responses to works by European women writers
Then I will look at the ways in which female and male Russian writers responded to works by European women writers. For instance, the works of the French seventeenth-century woman poet Antoinette Deshoulières (ca.1638-1694) seem to have had a deeper impact on Russian eighteenth and early nineteenth poetry than existing scholarship has discussed to the present. Thanks to the database WomenWriters other women authors who were widely read in Europe can be identified and their possible impact in Russia can be investigated.
(The inverse procedure, European responses to Russian women writers, will not be researched in detail, since it is unlikely that such transfers were frequent due to the lack of mastery of Russian in Europe).

3. Comparison of Russian and European reception of specific European women writers
In close collaboration with other colleagues in the research network it will be possible to compare the Russian reception of specific European women writers, such as Antoinette Deshoulières, with her reception in other countries. There might appear differences regarding the time, intensity and general style of her reception in different countries. It seems, for instance, that her works became models for Russian women writers only at the end of the eighteenth century, whereas she might have been imitated in other European countries much sooner.

4. Russian women writers’ responses to cultural themes discussed in Europe
Further, this project will focus on the ways Russian women writers responded to cultural themes that were the topics of literary debates in Europe. An example of such a theme is the question of natural rights. Widely discussed in Europe, some male writers in Russia, as is known, occupied themselves with it. The extent to which Russian women writers addressed this theme in their writings, however, is not clear yet, even though evidence exists which suggests that they adopted it too, often in a camouflaged way.

5. Comparison of Russian and European women’s reception of cultural themes
Finally the database WomenWriters will allow for another comparison, this time of the ways in which women in different countries addressed specific cultural themes. It is possible, for instance, that a cultural theme, such as the question of natural rights, was discussed differently in Russian than in other European countries.

SvD, April 2008

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