Date of Award

Summer 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Judith E. Kalb


This thesis examines how the Soviet construction of womanhood resulted first in females’ active participation in World War II and then in the silencing of women’s war experiences by fabricating a reality in which women’s trauma did not exist. Such a deprivation of women’s agency led to female soldiers’ confusion of identity, experience of shame and consequential self-censorship. In The Unwomanly Face of War (У войны не женское лицо, 1985), Svetlana Alexievich acknowledges these neglected experiences and traumas, and creates a space in which women’s stories have a right to exist. Applying Jean Elshtain’s theory on the lack of attention to women in combat as well as Carolyn Heilbrun’s ideas on the importance of enunciating experiences of oppressed women, I proclaim Alexievich to be a spokeswoman for female war witnesses. I also conclude that Alexievich helps those women abandon their feelings of shame and confusion regarding their femaleness, as she emphasizes that love is the major feminine quality female soldiers possessed during and after war.