This collection of essays, all by Russian scholars, is the first of its kind to address a broad English-speaking audience. It presents the theories and methodologies employed by Russian national historiography to make sense of Russian gender and women’s history. The essays in this volume discuss women’s and gender history in Russia, highlighting sensitive areas in the Russian academic community and in Russian society in general. The book appears in the context of an intense backlash against the liberal ideology of Russian modernization. That backlash has manifested itself in constant and persistent calls for traditional values and the rejection of gender as a concept, which many Russians believe entails the ability to choose one’s sex. Women are expected to return to their “natural state” as mothers and housekeepers; feminism has once again become a perceived cause of bad motherhood, is seen as a general threat to the family, and is even held responsible for “unnatural vices.” These attacks on gender and feminism as academic concepts, together with their further politicization, underscore the importance of women’s history in Russia. They also force scholars to reflect on the reasons and roots of such hostility. Furthermore, they bring up immanent questions about the nature and origins of these traditional values. These are the questions this books answers.
This book examines Japanese culture of the Muromachi epoch (14-16 centuries) with Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481) as its focal point. Ikkyu's contribution to the culture of his time was all-embracing and unique. He can be called the embodiment of his era, given that all the features typical for the Japanese culture of the High Middle Ages were concentrated in his personality. This multidisciplinary study of Ikkyu's artistic, religious, and philosophical heritage reconstructs his creative mentality and his way of life. The aesthetics and art of Ikkyu are shown against a broad historical background. Much emphasis is given to Ikkyu's interpretation of Zen. The book discusses in great detail Ikkyu's religious and ethical principles, as well as his attitude towards sex, and shows that his rebellious and iconoclastic ways were deeply embedded in the tradition. The book pulls together materials from cultural and religious history with literary and visual artistic texts, and offers a multifaceted view on Ikkyu, as well as on the cultural life of the Muromachi period. This approach ensures that the book will be interesting for art historians, historians of literature and religion, and specialists in cultural and visual studies.