Heldt Prize

The Heldt Prize recognizes the accomplishments of Barbara Heldt, one of the founding mothers of Slavic Studies in the United States and of the AWSS. Known for both her feminist scholarship and her commitment to the field, the prize is a fitting tribute to Heldt’s generous support for women and for women’s and gender studies.

Each year AWSS awards three Heldt Prizes:

  • Best book by a woman in any area of Slavic/East European/Eurasian Studies
  • Best book in Slavic/East European/Eurasian women’s and gender studies
  • Best article in Slavic/East European/Eurasian women’s and gender studies

In alternate years, AWSS also awards a prize for:

Best translation in Slavic/East European/Eurasian women’s and gender studies

2018 Awards

Winners will be announced at the annual meeting in December.

2017 Awards

Best book by a woman in any area of Slavic/East European/Eurasian Studies

Gould, Rebecca. Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016.

Rebecca Gould's meticulous study of Chechen, Dagestani, Georgian, and Russophone literature of Caucasian anticolonial insurgency is a linguistic tour-de-force in service of a nuanced analysis. Writers and Rebels explores the sacralization of rebellion and the anesthetization of violence in the prose, poetry, and oral narratives of the Caucasus region. She delves into a deep archive of local literary works and carefully unpacks differences among these geographically proximate, but profoundly diverse cultures. Gould's work offers a fresh approach that transcends literary studies, historical ethnography, and religious studies. It stands, too, as a model for the study of the borderlands, attentive to both the sub-regional specificities and liminal space the Caucasus occupied at the interface of the Russian and Ottoman empires.

Honorable Mention:

Nancy Shields Kollmann, The Russian Empire, 1450-1801. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Nancy Shields Kollman demonstrates the abilities of an historian at the peak of her skills. Based on years of specialised research and an absolute mastery of the field, she offers a fresh synthesis of early imperial Russia that will compel scholars and students to rethink our most fundamental assumptions. She has produced the authoritative work in the field, a masterpiece that will serve as a key reference on early modern Russia for years to come.

Honorable Mention:

Rosalind P. Blakesley, The Russian Canvas: Painting in Imperial Russia, 1757-1881. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.

Rosalind Blakesley's comprehensive study sets a new standard in Russian art history and fills an enormous gap in the scholarly literature. She teases out Russia's unique path to a professionalized corps of painters, while simultaneously embedding the Russian school in the broader history of European painting. Blakesley seamlessly weaves rigorous, exhaustive archival research with an encyclopedic command of the secondary literature to provide fresh insights into Russian painting and its links to broader social, political, and cultural changes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Best book in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian Women's and Gender Studies

Jusová, Iveta & Jirina Šiklová, Czech Feminisms: Perspectives on Gender in East Central Europe. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016.

Jusová and Šiklová have done a tremendous service to the field of Women's and Gender Studies through the publication of this edited volume. It allows leading Czech feminist scholars to speak in their own voice to an English-language audience. Covering history, sociology, ethnography, and politics, this collection gives readers a sense of the broad range of concerns that animate Czech women's and gender studies. To students of feminism in Eastern and Central Europe and beyond, Feminisms offers a window onto the common ground and unique perspectives of our Czech sisters.


Best translation in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian women's and gender studies

Nemec Ignashev, Diane, trans. The Kukotsky Enigma by Ludmila Ulitskaya. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2016.

Diane Nemec Ignashev's elegant and readable translation of The Kukotsky Enigma makes an important work by one of contemporary Russia's leading writers available for the first time to an English-speaking audience. As with all excellent works of translation, Nemec Ignashev renders the Russian into a natural English that allows the reader an immersive experience of the book. The novel centers on a male gynecologist who takes up the fight for abortion access in Stalin's USSR, a struggle that threatens to tear his family apart. The Kukotsky Enigma ruminates on the ethical questions that swirl around women's reproductive capacities. The themes at the heart of the work will engage a broad readership, which can now access the work thanks to Nemec Ignashev's able translation.


Best article in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian women's and gender studies

Zenovich, Jennifer A. "Willing the Property of Gender: A Feminist Autoethnography of Inheritance in Montenegro" Women's Studies in Communication 39, no. 1 (2016): 28-46. DOI: 10.1080/07491409.2015.1113217.

In her imaginative and compelling article, Jennifer Zenovich explores the linkage between property ownership, inheritance, and gender in contemporary Montenegro. Using the method of autoethnography, the article unspools the author's experience of this issue vis-à-vis her own father and brother. Zenovich puts her own story in dialogue with conversations with and observations of Montenegrin women she encounters through family ties and field work. A sophisticated feminist theoretical framing informs her analysis, which offers a fresh perspective on understudied questions at the intersection of gender and economics.


Heldt Prize Committee:

Paula A. Michaels, chair and AWSS President-Elect (Monash University)

Melissa Bokovoy (University of New Mexico)

Jenny Kaminer (University of California-Davis)

Eileen Kane (Connecticut College)

Jennifer Suchland (Ohio State University)

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