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Contemporary Women’s Writing in Siberia: Writing Russia’s Peripheries Open Access


Other title
Siberian literature
contemporary literature
Russian literature
women's writing
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Gill, Justine Ratcliffe
Supervisor and department
Pogosjan, Jelena (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Rolland, Peter (Chair only, Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Ilnytzkyj, Oleh (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Marples, David (History and Classics)
Parts, Lyudmila (Languages, Literature and Culture McGill University)
Bortolussi, Marisa (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Sywenky, Irene (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies
Slavic Languages and Literatures
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Nina Gorlanova and Natalia Smirnova are contemporary Siberian women writers. This dissertation examines four short works of fiction from the authors’ collections: Вся Пермь/All of Perm’ by Gorlanova and Женщины и сапожники /The Women and the Shoemakers by Smirnova. I examine their comparable but divergent textual responses to the peripherality of Siberia and the peripheral status of women writers by combining the study of both poetics and ideologies. Siberian space is examined via center-periphery studies. The division between the Urals, Siberia and the periphery is explored via the works of Aleksandr Ianushkevich, Ol’ga Slavnikova and Vladimir Abashev. The myths that help to define Siberia are explored. I introduce broad studies of space by Iurii Lotman and Michel Foucault. Using comparative textual analysis, my study argues that Gorlanova writes about Perm’ and develops a network of interacting spaces around it. She positions peripheral and carceral space prominently. Smirnova uses Siberian peripherality as a backdrop and her focus on domestic spaces negotiates a correlation between generic spaces and the peripheral settings of her stories. Both authors’ treatment of space and status is filtered through the lens of women’s writing. “Women’s writing” as a category and as a “style” is given Russian context. It is established as a second periphery from which these two authors write, but without an effort to produce a programmatic hypothesis regarding the authors’ orientations vis-à-vis feminism. With her use of lifewriting and metafiction, Gorlanova emphasizes the relationship between literary innovation and women’s writing. Works by Helena Goscilo, Rosalind Marsh, Barbara Heldt and Hilda Hoogenboom support my analysis of her texts. Smirnova focuses on female characters living in the periphery, their gendered labour and the language describing this experience. Her writing style and interest in cyclic time and quotidian labour are analyzed (especially sewing and cooking). The importance of byt/everyday life in contemporary women’s writing is studied. The French critical tradition of the 1970’s provides a framework for this reading (Helene Cixous and Luce Irigaray), as does an extended conception of Judith Butler’s theory of performativity and Ann Romines’ study of domestic codes.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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