26022 - Russian Women's Literature

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The student acquires in-depth knowledge of Russian women's literature. He is able to use practical methodologies for the analysis and the interpretation of the literary text.

Course contents

Body, Gender and Subjectivity in 20th century Russian Women Writers

An outline of the Feminist movement in Russia. Russian Women Writers of the Emigration, Post-soviet society; Gender Studies in the Russian Federation. The Russian cultural and literary context of the 20th century Contemporary Russian Literature;The Devolpment of gender studies in the Russian Federation.  Analysis of the work of some Russian women writers from the point of view of the themes of the Body and subjectivity: Bakunina, Berberova, Ulickaja, Petruševskaja, Narbikova, Palej,Slavnikova, etc.

Lessons are open to GEMMA students, in case they do not know Russian, lessons will be held in English or Italian.


Provisional list of the literary works to be analyzed (it is advisable to read as many texts as possible /in any language and edition/ in order to be able to follow the lectures, English translations are available, please check online):

Bakunina, Ekaterina, Il corpo, trad. it. A c. di G. Spendel, Torino, Bollati Boringhieri, 1995.

Bakunina, Ekaterina, Ljubov' k šesterym. Telo, Moskva, ZAO, 2001 (it includes the Russian original of the novel Il corpo/ Telo)

Berberova, Nina, The Accompanist,Engl. transl. M. Schwartz; The lackey and the slut

Palej Marina, Cabiria di Pietroburgo; traduzione di Luciana Montagnani, Milano, Il saggiatore, 1996. Engl. transl. Ringkanali Cabiria by Marina Paley, transl.Vilma Matsov

Petruševskaja, Ljudmila: Luny, Po doroge boga Erosa, Ali Baba, Vremja noč', Junost', Takaja devočka, Temnaja sud'ba, Plat'e (some stories are translated in Petruševskaja, Ljudmila: Il mistero della casa, Armando editore, 1998, Il mio tempo è la notte and in  Amore immortale); There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales, English transl. Gessen Summers); The Girl from the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia

Tolstaja, Tat’jana, Nad zolotom kryl’ce sideli, trad. it. Sotto il portico dorato, racconti, (traduzione Claudia Sugliano) La tartaruga, 1989. On the Golden Porch

Ulickaja, Ljudmila, Kazus Kukockogo, trad. in it. Il dono del dottor Kukockij, trad. it. Guercetti, Frassinelli, 2006. Engl. transl. The Kukotsky Enigma

Slavnikova, Olga, The Immortal

Further critical and theoretical readings (to be prepared according to the Teacher's instructions)

Barker, A.M. and J. M. Gheith eds, A History of Women's Writing in Russia, Cambridge, CUP, 2002

Clyman, Toby W. & Greene, Diana eds, Women Writers in Russian Literature, Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1994

Ciepiela Catherine, The Women of Russian MontParnasse(Paris, 1920-1940), in A History of Women's Writing in Russia, ed. A.M. Barker, J.M. Gheith, Cambridge UP, 2002, pp. 117-133.

Costlow, J., Sandler, S., Vowles, J. eds, Sexuality and the Body in Russian Culture, Stanford, Stanford UP, 1993.

Davis, Kathy, Embody-ing Theory. Beyond Modernist and Postmodernist Readingsof the Body, in Embodied Practices. Feminist Perspectives on the Body, London, Sage, 1997, ed. K. Davis, pp. 1-1-23.

Foucault, Michel, L'usage des plaisirs, Paris: Gallimard, 1984 (Italian and English translations)

Galimberti, U., Il corpo, antropologia, psicoanalisi, fenomenologia, Milano, Feltrinelli, 1983.

Goscilo, Helena, ed., Fruits of her Plume. Essays on Contemporary Russian Woman's Culture, Armonk, New York, M.E. Sharpe, 1993.

Goscilo, Helena, Paradigm Lost? Contemporary Women's Fiction , in Women Writers in Russian Literature, ed. by Toby W. Clymon & Diana Greene, Greenwood Press, Westport-London, 1994, pp. 205-228.

Goscilo, Helena, Dehexing Sex: Russian Womanhood during anf after Glasnost', University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1996.

Goscilo, H., The Explosive World of Tatyana N. Tolstaya's Fiction, New York, Sharpe, 1996.

Goscilo, Helena, Perestroika and post-Soviet Prose: from Dazzle to Dispersal, in Barker & Gheith eds 2002, pp. 297-312.

Guerra, Renè, L'emigrazione russa dagli anni Trenta agli anni Sessanta, in in Storia della letteratura russa del Novecento, a cura di E. Etkind, G. Nivat, V. Strada, Torino, Einaudi, 1990, vol.III, pp. 127-155.

Heldt, Barbara, Terrible Perfection: Women and Russian Literature, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, c1987.

Heldt, Barbara Gynoglasnost': writing the Feminine, in Mary Buckley (ed.), Perestroika and Soviet Women, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992, pp. 160-175.

Imperatori, Gabriella, Corpi manipolati, in Corpi di identità. Codici e immagini del corpo femminile nella cultura e nella società, a cura di S. Chemotti, Padova, Il poligrafo, 2001, pp.215-225.

Imposti, Gabriella, Corpo ed eros: riflessioni sparse, in Amore ed eros nella letteratura russa del Novecento, (Atti del convegno Bologna, 27-28 febbraio 2002), a cura di Gabriella Imposti, Haisa Pessina, Donatella Possamai, Bologna, CLUEB, 2004, pp. 219-231.

Imposti, Gabriella, Lo sviluppo dei “gendernye issledovanija” in Russia nell'ultimo decennio (contributo al III Congresso degli Slavisti Italiani, Forlì 7-9 giugno 2002), “Studi slavistici” I, 2004, pp. 105-114.

Imposti, Gabriella, Corpo, genere, soggettività nella narrativa di Ljudmila Petruševskaja, in Cinque letterature oggi. Russa, polacca, serba, ceca, ungherese, a cura di A. Cosentino, Udine, Forum, 2002, pp. 61-70.

Kahn, Andrew, Mark Lipovetsky, Irina Reyfman, and Stephanie Sandler, A History of Russian literature, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018 (accessibile on line http://sol.unibo.it/SebinaOpac/resource/a-history-of-russian-literature/UBO5363277)

Kelly, Catriona A History of Russian Women's Writing 1820-1992, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1994. (pp. 270-71 su Bakunina)

Lejderman, Lipoveckij, Sovremennaja russkaja literatura, capitoli sulla “ženskaja proza” e su L. Petruševskaja, pp. 563-568 e 610-620.

Mac Raeff, La cultura russa e l'emigrazione, in Storia della letteratura russa del Novecento, a cura di E. Etkind, G. Nivat, V. Strada, Torino, Einaudi, 1990, vol.II, pp. 63-99.

Nabokov, postfazione su Lolita, a proposito della differenza tra pornografia e letteratura d'arte (da Lolita, Milano, Adelphi, 1993, pp. 387-395)

Shorter, Edward, Storia del corpo femminile, Milano, Feltrinelli, 1984, in particolare la parte II, Storia dell'esperienza del parto, capp. 7 Lo sviluppo dell'esperienza del parto e 8 L'aborto, pp. 167-267.

Sorba, Carlotta, Immagini del corpo femminile tra ‘800 e ‘900, in Corpi di identità. Codici e immagini del corpo femminile nella cultura e nella società, a cura di S. Chemotti, Padova, Il poligrafo, 2001, pp. 23-34

Teaching methods

Lectures, reading and analysis of texts, slides, film clips and viewing relevant internet sites, reports by the students. Group presentations, discussion and seminars in class.
Useful teaching materials will be uploaded online.

Assessment methods

During the course students will be encouraged to participate with group reports and presentations on topics related to the course. Their active participation will be considered integral part (1/3) of their final test if they take the exam within the two following terms.

Students will be required to write an essay (it can be in English, Italian or Russian) on a topic connected with the course to be discussed during the exam. The topic must be agreed with the Professor and the essay must be sent 10 days before the exam. Max dimensions: 4000 words or 25000 characters (spaces notes included,  bibliography not included).

The test consists in an oral interview (held also in Russian or English) which has the aim of evaluating the students' knowledge of the contents of the programme and their critical and methodological abilities in discussing the topics and texts presented during the course. The presentation and the essay will also be discussed during the oral interview. The student must demonstrate appropriate knowledge of  the contents and the bibliography of the course programme.

Those students who are able to demonstrate a wide and systematic understanding of the issues covered during the lessons, are able to use these critically and who master the field-specific language of the discipline will be given a mark of excellence.
Those students who demonstrate a mnemonic knowledge of the subject with a more superficial analytical ability and ability to synthesize, a correct command of the language but not always appropriate, will be given a ‘fair' mark.
A superficial knowledge and understanding of the material, a scarce analytical and expressive ability that is not always appropriate will be rewarded with a pass mark or just above a pass mark.
Students who demonstrate gaps in their knowledge of the subject matter, inappropriate language use, lack of familiarity with the literature in the programme bibliography will not be given a pass mark.Students will be required to to write an essay (possibly in Russian) on a topic connected with the course to be discussed during the exam. 

NB. GEMMA and Erasmus students are required to write an essay in English or Italian on a topic to be agreed with the Professor and to be sent at least 10 days before the exam.


Teaching tools

Lectures, showing audio-visual materials, surfing the internet for relevant sites, analysis of literary texts. Presentations and papers of the students on topics suggested by the Professor.

Office hours

See the website of Gabriella Elina Imposti