The University of Wisconsin Press
The Worlds of Russian Village Women
Tradition, Transgression, Compromise
Laura J. Olson and Svetlana Adonyeva
A groundbreaking folkloric study of generations of Russian village women
Russian village women have been depicted as victims of oppressive patriarchy, celebrated as symbols of inherent female strength, and extolled as the original source of a great world culture. Throughout the years of collectivization, industrialization, and World War II, women played major roles in the evolution of the Russian village. But how do they see themselves? What do their stories, songs, and customs reveal about their values, desires, and motivations?
Based upon nearly three decades of fieldwork, from 1983 to 2010, The Worlds of Russian Rural Women follows three generations of Russian women and shows how they alternately preserve, discard, and rework the cultural traditions of their forebears to suit changing needs and self-conceptions. In a major contribution to the study of folklore, Laura J. Olson and Svetlana Adonyeva document the ways that women’s tales of traditional practices associated with marriage, childbirth, and death reflect both upholding and transgression of social norms. Their romance songs, satirical ditties, and healing and harmful magic reveal the complexity of power relations in the Russian villages.
Laura J. Olson is associate professor in the department of Germanic and Slavic languages and Literatures at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Svetlana Adonyeva is professor of folklore and theory of literature at St. Petersburg State University in Russia.
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Of related interest:
The Prose of Life
Russian Women Writers from Khrushchev to Putin
Benjamin M. Sutcliffe
A 2009 Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title
LC: 2012016670 HQ
382 pp. 7 x 9.5 12 b/w photos
Paper $39.95 s
eBook $29.95 s
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“Olson and Adonyeva skillfully interweave fieldwork data with historical background, theoretical connections, and interpretation. In-depth and balanced, the book covers a number of important topics: the village life cycle, magic and healing, gossip and consumption of mass media, and women’s relationship to both traditional and popular music.”
—Sibelan E. S. Forrester, Swarthmore College
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Updated January 13, 2013© 2013 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System