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   Course Title    Russian Women in Science and Schollarship in the 20th Century
Lecturer    Sergei Karpyuk
Institution    Jewish University in Moscow
Country    Russian Federation

The purpose of this course is to show students the role of women-scholars in Russian (including Soviet) society, the dynamics of the process of feminization of Russian science, the attitude of women-historians to women problems and position of women in Soviet society. Students should try to find common and specific characters of Russian women-scholars’ position in comparison with the western women-scholars’. Another aim is to teach students to work with documents as a source of social history.

This course includes 11 lectures and 3 seminars (for 1 semester).

The audience of this course are historians and students of social sciences of the Jewish University in Moscow. For historians, it is a part of their program in historiography, for students of social sciences it is a part of their gender courses.


Women in Russian science and scholarship before 1917. Government position on women education. Grammar School and University.

Vyschie zhenskie kursy (Higher Women Courses) before the revolution of 1917. Bestuzhevskie kursy in St. Petersburg. Its history and importance for women higher education in Russia.

Revolution and the first wave of feminization of Soviet science (20-30ies). Preferences for women. Vydvizhenki (women-workers promoted to administrative posts).

Revolution in science and technology and the second wave of feminization of Soviet science (60-70ies). Scientific-technical revolution and new jobs for women in Russian institutions. Sphere of ideology as a prohibited one.

The crisis, low prestige of science and the third wave of feminization of Soviet science (80-90ies). The reasons for this process. The prospects for the next century. Demographic situation in the USSR and competitive abilities of women-scholars.

Problems of women-scholars in Russia. Differences from the problems of western women-scholars. Reasons for this phenomenon.

Women-scholars biographies: Olga Dobiash-Rozhdestvenskaya. The biography of the scholar. The role of her family background. Her political views. Olga Dobiash-Rozhdestvenskaya and the Bestuzhevskie kursy: from student to professor position. Olga Dobiash-Rozhdestvenskaya and the revolution of 1917. The role of her husband, Professor (later Academician) Rozhdestvenskii, in her attitude to the revolution. Her scholar career after 1917. Her career as a modification of a traditional (for men) scholar career.

Women-scholars biographies: Olga Freidenberg, one of the first women on the top of Soviet scholarship. The biography of the scholar. The role of her family background (she was the cousin of Boris Pasternak). Her principal refusal to study at the Bestuzhevskie kursy: not surrogate ‘education for women’, but equal rights for education. From bohemian woman to the approval of the revolution. Noncomformism of Olga Freidenberg. Her social role in the Soviet scholarship and her reputation.

Women-scholars biographies: Militsa Nechkina. Vydvizhenki (women-workers promoted to an administrative posts). The biography of the scholar. The role of her family background. Her political views. Her teaching at the ‘rabfak’ (‘workers’ department’). From Kazan to Moscow: vertical geographical mobility of Soviet Russia. The Institute of Red Professors, and women’s place in the Soviet scholarship. Her position against the old-fashioned Academy of Sciences. After the Great War: Nechkina on the top.

Sociology and psychology: Curriculum resources for women-scholars in contemporary Russia. Proportion of women-scholars at the Academy and Universities.

Sociology and psychology: Self-evaluation of women-scholars. Women-scholars’ activities and problems in contemporary Russia.


Work with publication and archive documents.

Olga Dobiash-Rozhdestvenskaya. Memoirs about Bestuzhevskie kursy.

Olga Freidenberg. Memoirs and letters to her of Boris Pasternak.

Militsa Nechkina. Memoirs about her teaching at the ‘rabfak’ (‘workers’ department’).

Selected Literature for Students:

  1. A History of Women. Vol. V. Cambridge, Mass. - London, 1997.
  2. G.W.Lapidus. Women in Soviet Society: Equality, Development, and Social Change. Berkeley ' Los Angeles, 1978.
  3. Letters of Boris Pasternak. Moscow, 1990.
  4. Sankt-Peterburgskie Vysshie Zhenskie kursy. Leningrad, 1993.
  5. Olga Dobiash-Rozhdestvenskaya. Kultura srednevekov'ya. Nauchnoe naslyedie. Moscow, 1997.
  6. A. Grebenkina. Nechkina ' prepodavatel' rabochego fakul'teta Kazanskogo universiteta. // INION, 1990, dep. N 42478.

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