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

Now Accepting Submissions for 2019 Heldt Prize

The Association for Women in Slavic Studies invites nominations for the 2019 competition for the Heldt Prizes, awarded for works of scholarship. To be eligible for nomination, all books and articles for the first three prize categories must be published between 15 April 2018 and 15 April 2019. Nominations for the 2019 prizes will be accepted for the following categories:

  • Best book in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian women's and gender studies
  • Best article in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian women's and gender studies
  • Best book by a woman in any area of Slavic/East European/Eurasian studies
  • Best translation in Slavic/East European/Eurasian women’s and gender studies (Must be published between 15 April 2017 and 15 April 2019)

One may nominate individual books for more than one category, and more than one item for each category. Articles included in collections as well as journals are eligible for the "best article" prize, but they must be nominated individually. In general, hard copy submissions are preferred over e-versions.* The prizes will be awarded at the AWSS meeting at the ASEEES National Convention in San Francisco in November 2019.

If you have any questions, please contact the committee’s chair:  Melissa Bokovoy at mbokovoy@unm.edu

To nominate any work, please send or request that the publisher send one copy to each of the five members of the Prize committee by 15 May 2019:


Dr. Melissa Bokovoy, Chair, Heldt Prize Committee
Chair and Professor of History
Department of History
MSC06 3760
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-1181

Dr. Diane Nemec Ignashev
Department of German and Russian
Carleton College
100 North College Street
Northfield, MN 55057
Email (for e-books/pdfs; preferred): dignashe@carleton.edu

*NB: Diane Nemec Ignashev prefers to be sent entries as PDFs or e-book. Her email is provided below.

Dr. Jenny Kaminer
Associate Professor of Russian
University of California-Davis
Department of German and Russian
1 Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

Dr. Maria Popova
Department of Political Science
855 Sherbrooke St. W.
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 2T7   Canada

Dr. Anika Walke
Department of History
Washington University in St. Louis
CB 1062
Busch Hall 113
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

2018 Awards

AWSS is pleased to announce the 2018 Heldt Prize winners:

Best book by a woman in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Edyta Materka, Dystopia's Provocateurs: Peasants, State, and Informality in the Polish-German Borderlands. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017.

Dystopia’s Provocateurs is a stunning achievement of interdisciplinary and scholarly imagination. Set in the area known to Poles as the “Recovered Territories,” this study uses oral histories, archival documents, and literary sources to reconstruct the uneven, incomplete, and ad hoc process of transforming the countryside from German into Polish territory. Materka offers a compelling argument for peasants’ skillful and flexible use of strategies to navigate upheaval in ingenious ways that served their needs materially and psychologically. Materka offers a model of methodological innovation coupled with uncommon empathy.

Best article in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Arthur Clech, “Between the Labor Camp and the Clinic: Tema or the Shared Forms of Late Soviet Subjectivity,” Slavic Review 77, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 6-29.

Arthur Clech breaks new ground in the emerging field of Slavic, East European and Eurasian queer studies. Drawing on interviews with 36 men and women, a rereading of published primary sources, and careful engagement with the secondary literature, Clech undermines a scholarly consensus that, he persuasively argues, oversimplifies and overstates the gulf in experiences between same-sex attracted women and men. Though gay men were sentenced to prison and women were vulnerable to institutionalization in psychiatric facilities, Clech makes the case that a shared homosexual subjectivity existed that transcended the state’s divergent strategies of repression. With clear prose and persuasive, measured argumentation, Clech reconceptualizes our understanding of same-sex attraction and identity in the late Soviet period, opening new pathways for investigation in the process.

Honorable Mention

Igor Fedyukin, “Sex in the City that Peter Built: The Demimonde and Sociability in mid-Eighteenth Century Saint Petersburg,” Slavic Review 76, no. 4 (Winter 2017): 907-930.

Through a meticulous reading of an uncommonly rich cache of documents, Igor Fedyukin sheds light on the interlocking histories of sexuality, policing, and sociability. The paper trail of state efforts to curtail “indecency” yields a rich picture of for-profit, mixed sex “parties” that catered to elite appetites for socializing and for sex. Fedyukin sees in these social circles precursors to the kind of autonomous associational life that would later cause the autocracy anxiety, demonstrating how the history of sexuality speaks directly to the most central questions of political history.

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

The committee declined to make an award in this category this year.

Heldt Prize Committee

Paula Michaels, Chair (Monash University)

Rebecca Gould (University of Birmingham)

Eileen Kane (Connecticut College)

Diane Nemec Ignashev (Carleton College & Lomonosov Moscow State University)

Jennifer Suchland (Ohio State University)

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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