The University of Iowa

April WorldCanvass to focus on Russian and Eastern European women and their aspirations in the 21st century

March 25th, 2011

Host Joan Kjaer blends discussions of culture, history, literature, language, politics and art with live musical performances, all in an effort to illustrate and illuminate the complexities that make us distinct from one another while celebrating our common humanity. The live productions take place from 5-7 p.m. one Friday a month in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum on the campus of the University of Iowa and are free and open to the public.

Produced by International Programs at the University of Iowa, WorldCanvass® explores topics that are international in scope and central to our understanding of ourselves as part of the global landscape.

Join us on April 8 when WorldCanvass guests examine the public and private lives of women in Russia and Eastern Europe during the years since the collapse of the Soviet era. An international panel of guests will highlight the themes of a major conference taking place at the University of Iowa on April 7 and 8 called “20 Years after the Berlin Wall: Women’s Shifting Roles and Status in Post-Communist Europe.”

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UI Russian Professor Margaret Mills will join lecturers Irina Kostina and Jitka Sonkova as well as a number of UI students and visiting scholars to offer a historical and contextual overview of women’s experiences and expectations during the post-Soviet transition as well as an understanding of the double burden of work outside and inside the home that is still a part of women’s lives.

We’ll discuss women and gender, contrasting the goals of Western feminists with the aspirations of women in post-Communist Eastern Europe. We’ll look at lifestyle and professional opportunities for today’s young women. How are young women in or from Eastern Europe making career decisions and will they remain in their home countries or look for opportunities in the U.S. or Western Europe?

We’ll address women, politics and power as seen through the lens of statistics and the media. And, in our final segment, we’ll focus on representations of women in classic Russian and Eastern European literature and film, and hear recorded and live samples of the works of noted Russian composers Sofia Gubaidulina and Irina Dubkova. The music of Dubkova will be played by  “ensemble : peripherie” and conducted by Joseph Dangerfield.

A featured guest is Anna Sharogradskaya, a professor of journalism whose primary areas of focus are Russia through the Russian Media, Media Ethics, Reporting Diversity, and Civic Journalism. Other participants in the program are faculty members and lecturers from the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Margaret Mills, Irina Kostina, Jitka Sonkova, Anna Barker and Rene Lecuona. Also participating will be a number of colleagues from the University of Northern Iowa and UI graduate students.

Mills, Kostina and Sonkova are co-directors of the conference “20 Years after the Berlin Wall: Women’s Shifting Roles and Status in Post-Communist Europe,” which is supported by an International Programs Major Project grant.