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Title: Voices of the new Soviet woman : gender, emancipation and agency in letters to the Soviet State, 1924-1941
Author: Parker, Hannah
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2018
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The focus of the thesis is the agency of women in communication with the Soviet authorities from 1924 until 1941. Its primary goal is to deduce from the language and content of their letters how women fashioned their public identities in dialogue with the utopian ideal of the 'New Soviet Woman' in the 1920s and 1930s. These 'public letters' are primarily drawn from the caches of letters sent from citizens to Soviet officials, organs and publications, which were read, catalogues, and archived, but never published at the time. In these letters, women often adopted and reproduced 'Bolshevik language', carefully crafting their roles as workers, peasants, revolutionaries, Soviet mothers and daughters in an ongoing process of negotiation with Soviet power. They crafted these narratives creatively, infusing them with their own perspectives and experiences. Although the October Revolution ostensibly 'emancipated' women from the oppression they suffered under tsarism, they remained objects of suspicion for Soviet policymakers and theorists, not least because of their reproductive capacities and traditional roles in the home. While older generations of women presented a 'risk' to the regime's success because of their experiences before the Revolution, younger women were no less threatening, due to their involvement in child-bearing and child-raising. Women of all generations were expected to 'work on themselves' and to strive to meet the ideological expectations of the New Soviet Women. Old and young were able to mitigate the risks of their generational identities by prudently reproducing the Bolshevik script, even as they advanced their own agendas and needs. Exploring themes of emotions, rights and relationships, the thesis argues that women created space for themselves and their lives within the ideological framework of the Soviet project. Though the exercise of this agency was at times in conflict with state discourse or policy, it should not be confused with dissent, but understood as means of engagement with the Soviet utopian project on their own terms.
Supervisor: Dobson, Miriam Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available