Voices in the Shadows: Women and Verbal Art in Serbia and Bosnia

Voices in the Shadows: Women and Verbal Art in Serbia and Bosnia

Voices in the Shadows: Women and Verbal Art in Serbia and Bosnia

Voices in the Shadows: Women and Verbal Art in Serbia and Bosnia

Synopsis

Women are conspicuously absent from traditional cultural histories of south-east Europe. This book addresses that imbalance by describing the contribution of women to literary culture in the Orthodox/ Ottoman areas of Serbia and Bosnia.

The first complete literary history in relation to women's writing in south-east Europe. The author provides a broad chronological account of this contribution, dividing the book into two main parts; the earlier period up until the eighteenth century concentrates on the projections of gender through the medium of oral tradition and the lives of a handful of educated women in medieval Serbia and the few works of literature they left. Hawkesworth also looks at the written literature produced by women, first in the mid-nineteenth century and then at the turn of the century. The second part focuses on the trials and tribulations that affected feminism and women's literature throughout the twentieth century. The author finishes by highlighting the new women's movement, 1975-1990, a great period for women in Yugoslavia which created a stimulating atmosphere for outstanding pieces of women's journalism, prose and verse, culminating in the creation of new women's studies courses in many universities.

Excerpt

While the Central European countries have become steadily more familiar since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, to most West Europeans the South-East remains one of the least known areas of the continent. Where the ‘Balkans’ do have a presence in the Western imagination, the word may be said generally to have negative associations. the whole question of the manner in which the Balkans have been perceived in the West has been comprehensively discussed by the Bulgarian historian Maria Todorova, who analyzes how opinions were formed, particularly by travelers from the West, in various historical periods. the concept of ‘Balkanization’ has entered the English language, with alienating associations of conflict and fragmentation, and is widely applied to the most disparate situations, from major political events to the trivial organization of local structures. At the same time, the Balkans have held a special fascination for many individuals over the centuries, as an area of often rugged beauty, with a bewildering mixture of inhabitants, whose ways of life are at once familiar and yet refreshingly different. Specialists in the region are familiar with works concerned with political and ecclesiastical history, studies of Byzantium and the Orthodox Church, of Turkey-in-Europe and ‘the Eastern Question’, and works about the Second World War and about the twentieth-century experience of Communist Party rule. At the other end of the scale, there are the abundant accounts of travelers to these ‘exotic’ lands from the seventeenth century onwards. There have also been studies of basic indigenous social structures, of traditional culture, and of the effects of Ottoman rule.

The Central Balkan lands constituting the country which came into being in 1918 as ‘The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes’, and was later known as Yugoslavia, have been covered by scholars with particular thoroughness, and, indeed, it is part of this area that is the focus of the present study. There is a substantial body of works . . .

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