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Tanya Bakhmetyeva awarded prize for best Catholic biography

December 14, 2018
woman in a bonnet

Tanya Bakhmetyeva, an associate professor on instruction in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies, has received the 2018 Harry C. Koenig Book Prize for best Catholic biography. Bakhmetyeva’s winning book, Mother of the Church: Sophia Svechina, the Salon, and the Politics of Catholicism in Nineteenth-Century Russia and France (University of Northern Illinois Press, 2017), details the life of the Russian émigré and Catholic convert, whose Parisian salon became a social epicenter for the French intellectual elite.

“The research was connected to my own experience as a young woman living in post-Soviet Russia,” explains Bakhmetyeva, who is also the associate academic director of the University of Rochester’s Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. “I developed an interest in all things Catholic–only to discover that there is a long and fascinating history of Russian Catholicism–a complicated identity in a largely [Russian] Orthodox country.”

Bakhmetyeva delves into Svechina’s life as a noblewoman during a time with few occupational opportunities for women and within the context of liberal Catholicism, religious conversion, nationalism, and the role of the European salon.

“This prize was particularly gratifying to me,” adds Bakhmetyeva, “because I consider myself primarily a historian of women in Catholicism, so this prize recognizes both my work and the importance of the subject.”

The Koenig Award, granted by the American Catholic Historical Association, is awarded to a monograph that focuses on the life of a Catholic personage of any age or time. The $1500 prize will be presented to Bakhmetyeva in January at the association’s annual meeting.

To learn more about Bakhmetyeva’s book and Sofia Svechina, tune into the July 2017 episode of the University’s Quadcast.


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Category: University News