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Embracing Arms

Cultural Representation of Slavic and Balkan Women in War

Helena Goscilo

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: Central European University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix

Embracing Arms examines the cultural representations of women in war across geographical and generic boundaries. The chapters treat Polish and Russian film and television, Russian graphics, literature, song, and journalism, as well as Balkan film and literature. Given the breadth of the volume’s..

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pp. 1-26

Regardless of stirring legends about the military prowess of Boadicea, Penthesilea, and other Amazons, historically, war has been a quintessentially male preserve.4 For millennia, men’s capacity...


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pp. 25

Film and Television

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Chapter 1 Invisible Deaths: Polish Cinema’s Representation of Women in World War II

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pp. 29-58

In her essay “Women in the Forbidden Zone: War, Women, and Death,” Margaret R. Higonnet notes that “death, it seems, is indeed what differentiates men from women in wartime […] war and death are understood to define manhood” (1993, 193). For women, she argues, war and war...

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Chapter 2 She Defends His Motherland: The Myth of Mother Russia in Soviet Maternal Melodrama of the 1940s

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pp. 59-80

In her discussion of the cult of maternity in Russian culture, Joanna Hubbs contends that the myth of Mother Russia, perceived as the divine spirit of the land and her children—the peasantry, the intelligentsia, and the nation’s...

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Chapter 3 Flight without Wings: The Subjectivity of a Female War Veteran in Larisa Shepit’ko’s Wings (1966)

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pp. 81-106

Paradoxically and despite their best intentions, contemporary works on Soviet subjectivity draw attention to the gap between symbolic representation and personal everyday experience as the constitutive feature of Soviet culture and...

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Chapter 4 Gender(ed) Games: Romance, Slapstick, and Ideology in the Polish Television Series Four Tank Men and a Dog1

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pp. 107-128

Within the long tradition of Soviet and Eastern European visual texts about World War II Konrad Nałęcki’s Four Tank Men and a Dog [Czterej pancerni i pies 1966, 1969–70] presents something of an anomaly, comparable to the still lingering mystery...

Literature, Graphics, Song

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Chapter 5 Rage in the City of Hunger: Body, Talk, and the Politics of Womanliness in Lidia Ginzburg’s Notes from the Siege of Leningrad

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pp. 131-152

Narratives of the Leningrad siege rarely afford the city’s civilian women the right to be enraged. In official histories, largely preoccupied as they are with the military and macro-political aspects of the siege, the lives of civilians serve as statistical material; their deaths are justified by the deplorable...

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Chapter 6 Graphic Womanhood under Fire

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pp. 153-178

A frequently iterated truism about World War II holds that during that period of devastation, which cost approximately thirty million Soviet lives, culture served as a rallying point for Russians (von Geldern 1995, 52). Indeed, the imperative..

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Chapter 7 Songs of Women Warriors and Women Who Waited

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pp. 179-204

These three lines from the refrain of a 1943 Russian song, “Where the Eagle Spread Its Wings” [Где Орел раскинул крылья], reflect the general image of women in World War II songs—waiting on the home front for their sons, husbands, or boyfriends to come home from the war.1 But alongside..

II. Recent Wars

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Chapter 8 “Black Widows”: Women as Political Combatants in the Chechen Conflict

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pp. 207-232

Acts of political violence by women always draw disproportionate attention, not only because female political aggression is still a relatively rare phenomenon, but also because most cultures traditionally perceive women as nurturers...

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Chapter 9 War Rape: (Re)defining Motherhood, Fatherhood, and Nationhood

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pp. 233-252

Conservative estimates of the rapes committed during the Bosnian war (1991–1995) range from twenty thousand to fifty thousand (Boose 2002, 71). Unlike the Nuremberg Charter, which did not include special provisions for rape, in 2001, The Hague International War Crimes Tribunal for Yugoslavia...

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Chapter 10 Dubravka Ugrešić’s War Museum: Approaching the “Point of Pain”

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pp. 253-272

The war in Yugoslavia during the 1990s, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and an estimated two million displaced persons, prompted considerable commentary on the traumatic loss of life in the bloody...

List of Contributors

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pp. 273-274


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pp. 275-294

Illustrations [Image Plates]

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Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9786155225567
Print-ISBN-13: 9786155225093

Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • War in mass media.
  • Women in mass media.
  • Women and war -- Slavic countries.
  • Women and war -- Balkan Peninsula.
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