Exploring the feminist wave of higher education in nineteenth century Russia
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 02:38 authored by Michael Nazarov
During the second half of the nineteenth century, Russian society had changed considerably in that it had granted women the opportunity to pursue higher education, initially in Russia and later abroad after the university ban in 1864. Taking inspiration from nihilist literature, such as works by Chernyshevski or Turgenev, as well as feminism, which arose through the expansion of the Enlightenment, Russian women defied the traditional structured role of women as only wives and mothers, and pursued higher education because they believed that with a degree, it would grant them social and economic independence. It is through these actions, I argue, that Russian women have established a feminist wave of female higher education from the eighteen-sixties onwards, which preceded first wave-feminism. There are two reasons for establishing this period as a wave. Firstly, the women who initially studied abroad and received a doctorate, such as Suslova and Bokova, managed to inspire a generation of Russian women to follow in their footsteps. Secondly, the actions of these women after graduation in establishing an academic career, through performing experiments, writing papers, conducting field work or expeditions and teaching, serve as a testament that women were capable of working in an environment that was traditionally designated for men. This dissertation will use rationalism, to explore the motivations of Russian women who studied abroad, and post-structuralism, to explore how traditional nineteenth century Russian society began to change, as a result of Russian women pursuing higher education.