F2-5 206 Dwinelle Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

In this course we will read select writings by Greek women authors whose literary works reflect, in a direct or indirect manner, moments of crisis in Greek history, society, and/or in Greek literary culture. As the Greek state emerged out of its scattered contact with European Enlightenment, the ideological and cultural construction of Greece as a nation emerging from the Ottoman Empire, included also attempts to envision a new Greek society of the European type. However, in that new society, the woman still remained conceived, even by the more secular minds of the Greek intelligentsia, as an idealized but silent entity devoted to the support of the spouse and the raising of children. Even without the exercise of Christian morality, and despite the- albeit slow- advent of modernity, women’s qualities were still defined, at the end of the 18th century, by chastity, modesty and submissiveness, all of which were¬† accepted as an inherent part of the female nature.

The War of Independence of 1821 benefited primarily a middle class developing, in urban areas, with materialistic values and conventional attitudes, and an international aristocracy. As such, educated urban women now could present literary writing, primarily poetry, and appear in European-type literary salons, while the struggles of the peasant women could only be gleaned through prose fiction narratives and newspaper  journalism presented by their contemporary male authors.

In 1887, the Ladies’s Journal, a newspaper founded by Kallirroi Parren, which was run exclusively by women, introduced Greek women, the ones of some education and of higher socioeconomic means, to European and American feminism. Thus, during the last decade of the nineteenth century, the first Greek Women’s League was formed, centered around this publication. Nevertheless, despite social, cultural and intellectual developments in Greek society, women were formally left out of politics until about the middle of the 20th century. Although the first woman lawyer was accepted by the Bar Association in 1925, Greek women received the vote only in 1952, and the first female judge did not reach the bench until 1955. Still, during moments of national and political crises women participated in the political discourse from the margins. The crises were multiple and in succession, starting from the irredentist nationalism and the defeat in the war of 1897 and following with the subsequent wars: The (two) Balkan Wars, the First World War, the Greco -Turkish War of 1922, a fascist dictatorship, the Second World War, the Civil War and a military coup, all of which marked almost three quarters of the Greece’s twentieth century history. Yet, in all this turbulence, or perhaps because of it, women’s authorial voices came to be heard clearly, on whatever side of the political arguments they may have been. They came to express themselves in print, in literary or ideological writings, in fiction and poetry, and often on an international scale.


In this course, the literary readings will be contextualized with Greek history and with the history of Greek women. In addition, in order to provide a definition of what an author is, we will search into Michel Foucault’s ideas taken from his lecture by the same title.

The instructor is preparing readers for this course.

The Greek readings are also available in translation.

There are no language prerequisites for this class.