Abstracts

Intellectual Women: Dissatisfied Modernities
Abstracts

Intellectual Women

 

 

Jenny Bergenmar (University of Gotebörg)

Women writing the provincial. A new nationalism or a transnational critique of modernity?

 

Modernity in literature is usually connected to the urban. It explores capitalism and politics rather than religious beliefs, new technologies and commercialism rather than traditional labour and production, the individual rather than the collective, the present rather than the past, modernist aesthetics rather than literary tradition. However, the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century is also the time for a revival of the past, in Sweden represented by the neo-romanticism of the 1890ies, which brought success to Selma Lagerlöf. In Germany, where Lagerlöf’s reception was early and enthusiastic, she came to be interpreted as a traditional, provincial author, offering a healthy resistance to the cosmopolitan, urban and decadent modern literature. In the German context, the literary provincialism and traditionalism soon developed into nationalism. In this paper the following questions will be explored through the case of Selma Lagerlöf in a European context: is the interest in the provincial and traditional always connected to the national, or can it in fact be transnational? If the gender of modernity is indeed male, as Rita Felski has argued (Felski 1995), can provincialism be interpreted as dissatisfaction with modernity? I will discuss these questions with examples from the reception of Selma Lagerlöf primarily in Spain. Was she perceived as representing specifically Swedish qualities, or are the similarities with the Spanish cultural context underlined in the critical reception? Which texts were chosen for translations? I will also put the provincialism of Selma Lagerlöf in a larger context by comparing with two other women writers who used provincial settings in their novels, and who both were inspired by Selma Lagerlöf: Concha Espina and Grazia Deledda. Deledda was the second woman to receive the Noble Prize and Concha Espina was also discussed as a candidate. How come the provincial became a productive arena for women’s writing in the late nineteenth century and the beginning of twentieth century? 

 

Tatiana Crivelli  (University of Zurich)

“Hurricane Jessie”: A Case Study

Despite the widespread attention given to the Italian Risorgimento on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the national unity, the women contribution to the struggle for unification and for the shaping of modern Italy still remains largely unexplored. While, on one hand, the 2011 celebration was the occasion for some interesting critical rediscovering of female Italian heroines—such as the “revolutionary princess” Cristina Trivulzio di Belgioioso—on the other hand an all-encompassing analysis of women’s intellectual contribution to the major changes of that time, and particularly a critical exam of the role played by their international networking, is still waiting to be done.

In order to contribute to highlighting women’s intellectual exchange and its relevance in establishing national ideals in modern Europe, this paper will discuss the case of Jessie Withe Mario (Portsmouth 1832 – Florence 1906), a British intellectual, journalist and political activist who became a leading figure of the Italian Risorgimento, up to the point of being imprisoned for her involvement in the uprisings promoted in Genoa by Mazzini. Her writings deal with most sensitive social topics—such as Southern poverty, children condition, women rights, popular education, penitentiary systems—and cover many genres, from the newspaper article, by working as a reporter and a war correspondent for the «Daily News» and «The Nation», to narrative fictions, engaged essays and biographies (as the one she devoted to the most famous Garibaldi). The voice of “Hurricane Jessie”, a significant surname for this particularly defying thinker, is embedded in a dense network of international intellectual activists, speaks to an transnational and polyglot audience and reverberates a specific gendered perspective on society. Focusing on the dialogue that she established with other women, in particular with her beloved friend and Mazzini’s follower Sara Nathan, the paper will re-read the “hurricane” experience from an eccentric point of view, in order to outline the existence, around the eye of the storm, of an intellectual network that may allow us to read this exceptional case study as a more wide evidence of the relevance of European women contribution in shaping our modernity.

 

Suzan van Dijk (Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands)The modernity (dis/satisfied?) of Isabelle de Charrière around 1900

Discussions have been and are going on about the degree of success obtained by the Dutch-Swiss author Belle de Zuylen/Isabelle de Charrière (1740-1805). She was herself “ashamed” about the fact that she had not been able to earn any money by her publications (letter 2504 February 1804). Her work has not been much re-issued, in spite of the fact that it was admired by such reliable evaluators as Benjamin Constant and Germaine de Staël. Recent critics have claimed that she might have been too “modern”, which would have been the reason why her Oeuvres complètes eventually were published around 1980, and found their audience only after the second wave of feminism.

There is, however, another “modernity” to which Charrière may have corresponded: the one roughly succeeding to the first feminist wave – period of perhaps similar interest for women taking initiatives and demonstrating their independence of mind. In the beginning of the 20th century, there was indeed quite some interest for Charrière’s person and work, which for instance led to her being mentioned by the Portuguese writer Cláudia de Campos in 1901. This was due, no doubt, to the Swiss Philippe Godet who started writing and publishing about her in the 1890s, and who issued a biography in 1906, entitled Madame de Charrière et ses amis.

The resonance found by Godet’s work in other European countries than Portugal will be studied later; here I will focus upon the ways in which Godet’s work was reacted to in the Netherlands: what was the context in which this biography could be appreciated by Dutch readers, who had become familiar during the end of the 19th century with female authorship as a phenomenon? The Swiss historian presented their former compatriot Belle de Zuylen as a writer and intellectual who had been unjustly forgotten: « Le lecteur dira s’il est possible de rencontrer un esprit plus vif, plus indépendant et plus ferme, une distinction plus rare, un charme de naturel plus séduisant » (Avant-propos, p. xi). Did the Dutch readers – male and female – agree with him?

I will discuss these questions by using data about the reception of women’s writings, which have been entered into the WomenWriters database (www.databasewomenwriters.nl) over the last years and will allow comparison between the writers, and also between the different attitudes adopted toward their works by Dutch readership.

 

Carmen Beatrice Dutu (Dimitrie Cantemir University)

Textual Battlegrounds: Towards a Feminine Romanian Romanticism

It’s been long considered that up to the beginning of the 20th century Romanian women writers were tributary to a minor, second-hand romanticism, lacking any, or offering very few notable examples of literary productions.  However, recent research in the field of Romanian literary history has revealed that the last decades of 19th century in Romania triggered an unprecedented feminine authorship of sentimental romances, often embedded with feminist militantism. Most of these pioneers were daughters, sisters or wives of notorious men, tired of living a life of dependency and subordination: writers such as Maria Flechtemacher, Sofia Nadejde Constanta Dunca-Schiau, Constanta Hodos and others had strong voices, built on the imported European tradition of sentimental novel; they proposed a new formula of Romanian feminist discourse, dealing with the underlying theme of feminine emancipation. However, the phenomenon in discussion is yet to be properly recorded and studied, as it is still largely considered irrelevant to the canonical history of literature.

The present paper is a case study of the authorship of several prominent intellectual Romanian who followed their illustrious European models
(e.g. Emilia Lungu’s novel Elmira – influenced by the Bronte sisters, and Jane Austen) (Bianca Burta-Cenat, 2011); thus, I will be examining the recurrent themes employed by two of the sentimental novel feminine authors of in the examined period (1865-1900) – Maria Flechtemacher and Sofia Nadejde – in attempt to illustrate how Romanian feminine authorship was closely bound up with European feminism from the onset.

Moreover, the long-term aim of my study is to lay down the theory that Romanian women’s intersection with the European influence leads to the gendering of Romanian Romanticism, whereby the masculine Romantic project deals with nationalistic ideals and the feminine one pleads for emancipation and redefining feminine identity vis-à-vis the public and private sphere. 

 

Alenka  Jensterle- Doležal (Charles University in Prague)

The Crisis of Identity: the Doppelganger in the early Poems of Slovene poetess Lili Novy

  In the paper I will analyse the poetry of Lili Novy (1885-1958). I will try to present her role in the literary movement in Central Europe. I will concentrate on the motive of a doppelganger in her early poetry. Novy as the German-Slovene writer and an exceptionally educated female intellectual and translator, living in Ljubljana  - had mixed cultural identities (Slovene and German). She writes lyrics in post symbolist style Her melancholic voice expresses longing for metaphysical ideals and eternity. Her poetical world is full of visions and imaginary motives. Her lyrics is also a kind of confession, very intimate and full of emotions – even though she tries to be not sentimental. Her new aesthetics was very typical for the intellectual poetry of  Central European modernism of that time.

    The doppelganger (the double herself) in her poetic work is very common in the beginning in her writing: in both German and Slovene poems. In the motive of doppelganger she doesn´t want to accent the duality of human nature (as romantics did), more to express the disintegration and dissatisfaction of the modern subject – and also to accent the problems of the gender role. The lyrical subject in the doppelganger masque expresses the longing for different, other self and as well the paradoxes of  the “soul” – her inner self. In her poetry she also depicts disintegration of the lyrical subject and the crisis of the identity – so often presented in the fin-de-siècle literature at the end and the beginning of 20th century.

 

Ramona Mihaila (Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University)

Intellectual Women’s Space in the Late-Nineteenth Century Romanian Print Journalism

In the Romanian space, the entry of women into the profession of writing was a slow process that became clearer at the end of the 19th century. Thus, the first Romanian women writers were initially known as journalists; later some of them shifted towards writing poems and novels.

The first journals ran by women (writers) would address to high class and middle class young ladies. In the pages of these journals, the women of the elite were challenged to write their pertinent points of view concerning the necessity of women’s emancipation and to configure new projects for a social reform in accordance with the Romanian realities of that period. Constanţa de Dunca-Schiau ran the feminist newspaper Amicul familiei (The Friend of the Family): Bucharest, 1863–1865, the British Maria Rosetti was the editor of the journal Mama şi copilul (Mother and Child): Bucharest, 1865–1866. Adela Xenopol set up the journal Dochia: Bucharest, 1896-1898, and later she ran other three journals: Românca (The Romanian Woman), Bucharest, 1905-1906, Viitorul româncelor (The Future of Romanian Women), Bucharest, 1912–1916, and Revista scriitoarei (The Woman Writer’s Journal), Bucharest, 1926–1928. Eliza V. Cornea edited the journal Rolul femeii (The Woman’s Role), Bucharest, 1883. Emilia Tailler was the director of Jurnalul femeii (The Woman’s Journal), a journal with articles focused on education and fashion while, Constanţa Hodoş, published between 1905–1907, and then, 1914–1916, in Bucharest, Revista noastră (Our Journal), a literary, artistic and social journal.

In her journal Femeia română (The Romanian Woman), 1878-1880, Maria Flehtenmacher wrote many reports on international conferences concerning women’s emancipation and translated into Romanian the keynote speeches delivered by important feminists from France, England, and United States (e.g. Eugénie Potonié-Pierre (1844–1898) was member of the Congress of Women in Paris and she founded the Federation of French Feminist Societies in 1892. Some of her articles were translated by Maria Flechtenmacher: “Mama” (“The Mother”) 121(1879), “Un răspuns” (“An Answer”) 124(1879), “Femeia medic” (“Medicine Woman”) 133(1879), “Munca și salariul” (“Labor and Salary”) 157(1879).

Maria Baiulescu (1860-1941) was an ardent feminist supporter and a fighter for liberation of Romanians under the Hapsburg domination. She submitted articles on these topics for: Vatra (The Heath), Familia (The Family), Gazeta Femeii (Women’s Gazette), Tribuna (The Tribune) Universul literar (The Literary Universe). In 1912, Maria Baiulescu set up Uniunea Femeilor Române (The Committee of Romanian Women), an organization intended to represent the women from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. While she strongly militated for the women’s rights Maria Baiulescu delivered speeches in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, and Romania trying to make an international network of women’s movements.

The French-Hungarian author of Romanian origins Otilia Marchiș (1873-1951), born in Satu Mare, was a famous international writer and artist, who embarked for an Oriental trip, as Martha Bibesco, to Japan, the Indies and the East and stops in Port-Said, Bombay, Colombo, Calcutta, Singapore, Hong-Kong, Shanghai, Yokohama and Tokyo. She sent articles for the journals such as Budapesti Naplo, Uj idök (New Times), Szatmarnemeti Közlöny (Satu Mare Herald), and Luceafărul (The Morning Star) and sometimes signed with the pen name Kémeri Sándor. Later she settled down in Paris and she continued to send articles for journals in Romania, France, Hungary and United States (New York Herald Tribune). While being a student at the high school in Carei, she became friend with the famous Hungarian writer Kafka Margit (1880-1918) and their friendship lasted forever.

Emilia Lungu Puhallo (1853-1932) used many pen names “Bănăţeanul,” “Bănăţeanul Călător,” “Bănăţeanul June,” “Bănăţeanul Moş” while signing the articles for Familia (The Family), Biserica și şcoala (The Church and School), Amicul familiei (The Friend of Family), Drapelul (The Flag). She married a Croatian officer Isaac Puhallo and moved to Sarajevo, and then to Mostar (Bosnia- Herzegovina). In Sarajevo she met Milena Mrazovid - Preindlsberger (1866-1927), considered the first journalist and editor in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who was running the local journal Die (Bosnischen) Post (in German). They became friends and Emilia wrote many articles for this journal for four years.

The present article intends to identify these individual periodicals as representations of women’s space at the end of the19th century and the beginning of the 20th century Romanian society.

 

Elisa Müller-Adams ((University of Trier)

Love and Europeanness in Annette Kolb’s travel novel Das Exemplar [The Specimen] (1912)

Around the turn of the century, Anglo-German relations became increasingly strained with literature reflecting and contributing to the cultural tensions between Britain and Germany. In the literary and highly gendered discourse about the estranged ‚cousins’, women authors like, for example, Katherine Mansfield and Elizabeth von Arnim played a major role. It is in this context that Annette Kolb’s novel Das Exemplar [The Specimen] about a young German woman traveling to England to meet her estranged lover can be read.

The author and pacifist Annette Kolb (1870-1967) is considered an important cultural mediator in the 20th century (especially between France and Germany). Her debut novel Das Exemplar, however, has been largely ignored by scholarly research. Yet, recently the text has been re-valued by gender-orientated research analysing the text’s ironic take on contemporary gender constructions (Stauffer)[1] and its questioning of concepts of national and gender identity (Liska)[2]. As in her later writings on the war and the notion of Europe in Das Exemplar Kolb seeks to develop alternative models of (European) identity at a time when the continent is about to be torn apart, thereby placing herself in a literary and political dialogue across national borders. 

Based on the one hand on theoretical concepts of intercultural literature as developed by Carmine Chiellino (Liebe und Interkulturalität) and Norbert Mecklenburg (Das Mädchen aus der Fremde) and on the other hand on Luisa Passerini’s observation of the close link between European identity and concepts of love[3], the proposed paper examines the notions of love and interculturality in Kolb’s novel. Focusing on the topic of the inner and outer journey the female protagonist undertakes in her quest to meet her lover the paper will ask how the travel and the love narrative is used to explore the connection between the public (politics) and the private (love and alienation) and how this could be read as an exploration of ‘Europeanness’ on the eve of The First World War.

 

Isabel Navas Ocaña (Universidad de Almería)

A landmark of feminist criticism in Spain: Las escritoras españolas, de Margarita Nelken

I think that it has not been paid enough attention to Las escritoras españolas, by Margarita Nelken (1930), published only a year after the famous A Room of One Own’s by Virginia Woolf. Nelken"s work, along with El feminismo en la literatura española by María del Pilar Oñate (1938), anticipate two aspects developed by American feminist criticism: female images in men writers and the study of women writers separately. Oñate, who accounts for the images of women in Spanish literature, and Margarita Nelken, who deals to Spanish women writers, both materialize something that is just an outline in A Room of Own’s by Virginia Woolf, something that will not be developed until the seventies by Kate Millet’s Sexual Politics (1969) and Elaine Showalter’s A Literature of Their Own (1977).

In addition, Nelken’s Las escritoras españolas is not an alphabetical list of names, as were his immediate predecessors -I refer to Apuntes para una Biblioteca de Escritoras Españolas by Manuel Serrano Sanz (1903 y 1905)-, but a study of large breath that, without altering the chronological order, is guided by thematic patterns and is full of interesting reflections on the nature of women"s writing and women"s contribution to literature. Among the many virtues of Nelken’s work, I think that it deserves a special attention its apology of mysticism, which she calls "the true original women"s contribution to literature". This apology anticipates Lacan’s reflections on mysticism.

         In short,Nelken’s work revises the Spanish literary history from disagreement, from dissatisfaction, from dissidence, whit the intention, until then unedited, to make visible women, and therefore to read that story in a different way.

 

Marie Nedregotten (Volda University College, Norway)

Anglo-Nordic connections in turn-of-the-century feminism

Both before and after the turn of the century, Norwegian women participated in the larger European discourses on modernity and femininity. Norwegian readers and writers were influenced by foreign women. The great early feminist names of the nineteenth century – for instance novelists Camilla Collett and Amalie Skram – saw themselves in a larger European context, as did the next generation. The Norwegian Association for Women’s Rights was established in 1884 and The Association for Women’s Vote in 1885. Key female figures fought for decades before all women got the right to vote in 1913, as the fourth country in the world. This is the context for this paper, which will focus mainly on the period after concepts such as ‘feminists’ and ‘suffragettes’ were making their appearance at the turn of the century, and until the first world war resulted in a new world for professional women. The paper will give examples of connections between Anglophone and Norwegian women at this time. Writers such as Clementina Black, Mary Dunne, Beatrice Harraden, Annie Besant were received in Norway, and these receptions are symptoms of a shared interest in the issues of modern femininity. The period 1890-1914 is also the last time window of the ongoing HERA collaborative research project Travelling TexTs, and this paper will present preliminary results from that project.

 

Viola Parente-Čapková(University of Turku)

Finnish women writers/intellectuals at the beginning of the 20th century

In my paper, I would like to outline the ways intellectual women in Finland reflected on their possibilities at the beginning of the 20th century. First, I give some historical background concerning the history of education of women in Finland, of their possibility to study at the university and becoming scholars or intellectuals in the broader sense of the word against the background of Finnish national revival, which was entering its culminating phase at the turn of the 19th and the 20th century. Then I concentrate on several examples of women who acted as writers and intellectuals and on their way to conceptualize the idea of “woman intellectual” in dialogue with foreign, i. e. non Finnish, women’s thought.

Finnish women could study at the university from the very beginning of the 20th century without a special permit (the so-called “liberation from their sex”) and got the vote in 1906. The major ideologists of the Finnish national movement were mostly in favour of women’s education and advancement, maintaining that the cultural level and status of the nation can be measured by the status of its women. However, there were still many obstacles that the Finnish women intellectuals had to face at the turn-of-the-19th-and-the-20th-century Finland. I will give some examples of these creative women and the way they were shaping the understanding of the concept of woman intellectual engaging with foreign women’s ideas on the topic. My major example will be one of the major mediators of the French culture in Finland and an admirer of Germaine de Staël: the Finnish language writer, journalist, translator, essayist and versatile cultural figure L. Onerva (1882–1971), who dedicated much of her fiction and non-fiction writings to the issue of women’s genius as well as their creative and intellectual capacities.

 

Alba del Pozo (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona)

Between Tourism and Pilgrimage: Women Hispanists in Spain during the Fin de Siècle

 

This paper will address the shaping of the early American Hispanism and the essential role played by intellectual women in this process. In 1908 the philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington founded the Hispanic Society of America in New York and started hiring women and sending them to Spain to gather representative data, images, art and any kind of relevant objects. His main purpose was to create one of the biggest research centres in Hispanic issues worldwide.

I will focus on two collaborators of Huntington, on their trips to Spain and on the intellectual production stemming from these visits. Georgiana Goddard King (1871-1931) was an Art Historian and worked as professor in Bryn Mawr College (Pennsylvania), the first academic institution in the USA to offer postgraduate and doctoral courses for women. Her partner, Edith Lowber (1879-1934), also graduated at the same college and was a professional traveller and a photographer. Both women came to Spain sponsored by Huntington in 1915, 1916, 1919 and 1920. During these trips, they travelled across the country, collected information about Spanish art and traditions and took pictures for Huntington’s archival project. Further, they published several books on Spain authored by Goddard King and featuring pictures by Lowber. Some of these are The Way to Saint James (1920), A brief account of the military orders in Spain(1921), Pre-Romanesque churches of Spain (1924), and Heart of Spain (published posthumously in 1941).

I aim to examine the three volumes of The Way to Saint James, more than three thousand pages and over forty photographs illustrating the popular way to Santiago de Compostela. Text and images display the struggles between modernity, femininity and nation produced by both intellectual women. Firstly, because these women take a traditionally masculine position, not only as travellers and intellectuals but also as producers of objective knowledge – especially through a traditionally mimetic tool as photography. This contradictory position can be traced in the texts’ gender perspective. These texts and images strongly differ from traditional masculine travel literature, usually described in terms of adventure and individualism. Secondly, these texts allow for a shift in the configuration of modern travel: by referring to themselves both as tourists and pilgrims, Goddard and Lowber displace different models of travelling such as the Grand Tour, the pilgrimage and the scientific expedition to the field of modern leisure and visual consumption of the space, but also to academic knowledge, revealing the shaping of early American Hispanism.

The Way to Saint James is based in three elements: the architecture of churches, cathedrals and palaces spread along the way, with an especial interest in gothic style, in which Goddard King was specialised. Second, Spanish history, especially from the Middle Ages and the Siglo de Oro, conceived as a narrative frame for the present buildings and the route itself. Third, the narrative travel, including anecdotes, hostel recommendations, descriptions of people and landscapes and even the problems appeared by the feminine condition of both travellers. 

 

Ursula Stohler (University of Zurich)

Dissatisfaction about intellectual women inside a non-intellectual environment: E. Marlitt´s female protagonists

This paper discusses how the type of a female, intellectual protagonist, which is typical of E. Marlitt´s (1825-1887) novels, related to novels by other female writers, both of high-brow and popular literature, during the first three decades of the nineteenth century in the Czech literary culture. It will focus on Czech and German novels, which were both widely read in the Czech literary culture of that time. To what extent can the popularity of Marlitt´s novels be interpreted as a dialogue between the German and the Czech reading public, which was interested in the model of female, intellectual protagonist that the seemingly more „modern“ novels of that time were not able to provide? At the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century the number of works of popular fiction in Europe rose considerably compared to previous periods. Re-editions of Marlitt´s works were a part of this vogue. In particular, her novels Goldelse (Goldelse, 1866),  Die zweite Frau (The second wife, 1873), or Das Geheimniß der alten Mamsell (The old Mamsell´s secret, 1867) became international bestsellers once again after their first appearance on the European book market during the 1860s and 1870s. Her female protagonists stand out as intellectual, outspoken women who have to prove themselves in conservative, mysoginist enviroments, where female intellectual aspirations met with great dissatisfaction. The settings of her novels include Gothic elements, such as castles and secrets the female protagonists have to disclose, as well as the cinderella topic of social advancement through marriage. How come this type of fiction, with its setting that was far from modern, became so popular during this period of modernities? Was it a nostalgia of past times, which balanced the turbulent modern times? Or did the revival of novels in the style of Marlitt offer a possibility for female readers to find models of intellectual women, even though in conservative settings? Was reading these kinds of novels a way for women to express dissatisfaction about the path modernity had taken and which had failed to address the concerns of women and their need for models of intellectual female protagonists?

 

 

Senem Timuroğlu (Ozyegin University, Istanbul)

Harem Narratives: “Room of Their Own” of Ottoman Women in 19th Century

In this paper, I’m going to discuss harem, which is the most “mysterious” of places women occupied, and the place men most fantasized about, by focusing on the writings of those who lived in it. I’m going to endeavor to narrate the history of the “room of their own” of Ottoman women in the 19th century from their own point of view. This attempt is going to defeat the sexist rumors spread by the male European mentality with an Orientalist viewpoint. For the reason that, harem, which was constructed as the place Eastern slave women were imprisoned to wait for their men without doing anything, is going to be seen as the place that provided the background and the education necessary for the writing of the works I’m going to discuss in this paper. Two works are going to be covered in this paper: Fatma Aliye’s Women of Islam (1891) and Zeynep Hanım’s A Turkish Woman’s European Impressions (1913).

Ever since 18th century, books that had “harem” in their titles had started to sell well in the West, and the stereotypical, sexualized and foreign knowledge-based harem image had begun to be marketed. While the male Western travelers were creating fantasies about harem, women travelers were actually visiting the harem, since they were allowed to do so, to satisfy their and the Western readers’ curiosity. Because they could visit it, women travelers’ harem narratives were different than the writings of men which were filled with sexism and prejudice. However, these women travelers also made their first visits with European-centric prejudices against Islamic women. In Women of Islam, Fatma Aliye writes out the conversation she had with her European guest who came to visit her harem, and questions her orientalist mentality. This work reflects a response that defends harem from the inside, and an effort of creating a dialogue with European women.

 The second work I’m going to contemplate on in this paper, A Turkish Woman’s European Impressions, depicts Eastern and Western harems from the point of view of a woman who fled to the West thinking that she would be free from the harem there. However, she would see that the freedom European women earned with their struggles was not what she expected, and leave us with her disappointed observations.

               It can be seen in both texts that in 19th century, which coincides with the time that feminist movement started in the world, there were visits from the Ottoman woman’s room to the European woman’s, and vice versa, and that women looked into liberation models within the frame of experiences created by their cultures and societies. I’m going to discuss how polyphonic harem was as a place of educated women who could voice their opinions and feelings in their writing, and Western men and women observers.  


 Zsuzsanna Varga (University of Glasgow)From feminism to conservativism: the life and career of Emma Ritoók

My prosed paper offers to account for the career and thought of Emma Ritoók (1868-1945), the Transylvanian Hungarian author, philosopher, psychologist and aesthete. Born into a family of professionals, Ritoók published her first volume of short stories in 1896, and the volume established her modest reputation as a novelist, a genre that she continued for the rest of her life. During her early carrer, she espounded notions of feminism, female independence and intellectual emancipation, as witnessed in her novel Egyenes úton-egyedül[Alone on the straight road, 1905], whilst she turned increasingly conservative after WW1 and the two revolutions following it. Her novel A szellem kaladorai [Spirit’s adventurers, 1921] provide an account of distancing of herself from her earlier radicalism.

An equally important aspect of her writing emerged with her breakthrough by the her scholarly essay ‘The tendency of naturalism in the belles lettres’ (1897), which started her career as theoretical essayist in periodical publications, and also that of the critic of 19th century literature.Her study of the national poet János Arany’s concept of epic poetry (1906) makes her one of the early Hungarian female literary historians. Her studies in philosophy, conducted at German universities and also studying with Georg Simmel, put her in contact with the most important philosophers of her age, including the Marxist critic Georg Lukács, and the art theoretician Béla Balázs, and the German philosopherErnst Bloch. Her interest in the nature of aesthetic appreciation stemmed from her studies with Simmel, and generated several articles in German psychological journals in the early 20th century. My proposed paper intends to account for her output as novelist and aesthete, and intends to place her work in the context of German intellectual thought at the turn of the century.

The second part of my paper offers an analysis of her roman-a-clef Spirit’s adventurers (1921), which provides a satyre and scathing critique of the Sunday Circle (Vasárnapi kör), a group of pre-war intellectuals, to which she also belonged as the token woman. The were equally committed to ideas of social and intellectual modernisation and also subscribed to Weininger’s narcissistic theories of the genius, which suggested that belonging to that higher order also provides the licence to deny private morality. The novel further explores the position of the intellectual woman not only in society but aslo in the supposedly superior intellectual circles and exposes its mysogynic bias. 



[1] Stauffer, Isabelle. Weibliche Dandys, blickmächtige Femmes fragiles: Ironische Inszenierungen des Geschlechts im Fin de Siècle. Auflage: 1., Aufl. Köln: Böhlau Köln, 2008.

[2] Liska, Vivian. “The ‘New Woman’ as a Foreigner: Individual and National Identity in Annette Kolb’s Novel Das Exemplar.” In Writing against Boundaries: Nationality, Ethnicity and Gender in the German-Speaking Context, edited by Barbara Kosta and Helga Kraft, 39–46.

[3] Passerini, Luisa. Women and Men in Love: European Identities in the Twentieth Century. Remapping Cultural History 9. New York, NY [u.a.]: Berghahn, 2012.