Faculty Mentors

Dr. William Risch


During the mid-nineteenth century, the Russian intelligentsia began to lean towards Slavophilic studies in their pursuit of Russian nationalism. The driving thesis of the Slavophilic movement sought to embrace Slavic (and for Russian nationalists, specifically Russian) culture and roots, pushing back against the Petrine and Catherine movements towards Westernization. A crucial element of this mythic Slavic culture that often went unquestioned was the strict code of its gender norms. Significant folklore collectors brought their class and gender biases along with them. They held very specific beliefs regarding “real” folklore and “proper” performances of tales, imposing their intellectual structure onto a culture alien to that type of categorization. The narrative of Russian folklore and its studies had been intentionally shifted from narrator-centered to academia-centered, completely eliminating the central role of women in its creation. Removing folklore from its deeply informative context forces a patriarchal structure onto a subject not suited to its rigidity and insistence on categorization. It further removes women from the accepted narrative, as women had little place in academia in late nineteenth-century Russia.



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