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  • Women's World (1886-1914):Serbian Women's Laboratory as an Entrance into the Public Sphere
  • Gordana Stojaković, Independent Scholar
    Translated by Snežana Bogdanovic

1. Introduction

In Serbian literature, there has not been a systematic study of women's press, even though women in Vojvodina were reading women's newspapers and magazines written in Serbo-Croatian, German, and Hungarian by the late 19th and early 20th century. Moreover, women from Novi Sad were editors and owners of magazines, both for women and for men. These women were Milica Tomić (Žena - Woman), Viktorija Jugović Risaković (Fruškogorac - Fruška Gora's Newspaper), Jelica Belović-Bernadžikovska (Frauenwelt - Women's World; Napredna snaga - Progressive Power; Srpska vezilja: Ilustrovani list za ručni rad, domaću potrebu i zabavu - The Serbian Female Embroiderer: Illustrated Magazine for Handicrafts, Home Necessities, and Entertainment), Zorka Lazić (Vrač pogađač - The Fortuneteller Guesser; Dečije novine - The Children's Newspaper), and Zorka Hovorka (Srpsko cveće - Serbian Flowers).1 Little is known about the influence of the women's press on the lives of its readers.

In my research on the women's movement and on women's magazines from the late 19th to mid-20th century, I have found a link between women's activism and women's magazines.2 It is quite clear that the first decades of the [End Page 21] Serbian women's activism north and south of the Sava and the Danube rivers, was continuously covered. However, it is also evident that their activism was influenced by major women's magazines in Serbian. These included Domaćica (Housewife; Belgrade, 1879-1914 and 1921-41), Ženski svet (Women's World; Novi Sad, 1886-1914), and Žena (Woman; Novi Sad, 1911-14 and 1918-21).

Women were encouraged to publish news articles, book reports, illustrations, and literary works in these magazines. The most significant in terms of circulation and topics were the monthlies Ženski svet and Žena.

Women's World, an organ of the Serbian Women's Charitable Cooperative owned by Dobrotvorna Zadruga Srpkinja Novosatkinja (Charitable Cooperative of Serbian Women from Novi Sad),3 was read by Serbian women from 1886 to 1914. The significance of this monthly is its continuity, circulation, and geographical distribution, in addition to its broad appeal to both urban and rural women.

Women's World was a treasure trove of data on the activist and creative work of women and a forum for their first literary and journalistic works. The influence of these women on promoting the establishment and networking of women's organizations for the sake of common actions and the exchange of ideas is unquestionable.

This analysis of the texts in Women's World begins with the role of women in Vojvodina in the 19th and early 20th century. I will present data on the social and political context in which Women's World appeared, with special attention to organizations that made a women's press possible.

Analyzing the press for scientific reasoning is one of the usual methods of reconstructing the past. I apply it in this paper as a method of discourse analysis in order to point to the phenomenon of transferring socially constructed attitudes in the sense of the transformation of the status and role of women in Vojvodina from 1886 to 1914. I analyze the content and articles in Women's World by applying the theories of gender studies of the last decade of the 20th century. This goal was achieved through analysis of the dominant topics, events, people, and groups presented as well as the texts of the authors. I also provide some basic information about both the female and male authors. [End Page 22]

1.1. Women in the Public Sphere

During the 19th and early 20th century, the Serbs were scattered north and south of the Sava and Danube rivers in the Austro-Hungarian Empire4 and in the Ottoman Empire, but by 1830 they had their own state: the Principality of Serbia.5 From the 19th century to 1918, Vojvodina was part of the Habsburg Monarchy, an economically developed, multiethnic, and multireligious state that from 1867 on consisted of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary.6...


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