A.K. 47 - Selections from the Works of Alexandra Kollontai

A.K. 47 - Selections from the Works of Alexandra Kollontai

Kristen R. Ghodsee reads and discusses 47 selections from the works of Alexandra Kollontai (1872-1952), a socialist women's activist who had radical ideas about the intersections of socialism and women's emancipation. Born into aristocratic privilege, the Russian Kollontai was initially a member of the Mensheviks before she joined Lenin and the Bolsheviks and became an important revolutionary figure during the 1917 Russian Revolution. Kollontai was a socialist theorist of women’s emancipation and a strident proponent of sexual relations freed from all economic considerations. After the October Revolution, Kollontai became the Commissar of Social Welfare and helped to found the Zhenotdel (the women's section of the Party). She oversaw a wide variety of legal reforms and public policies to help liberate working women and to create the basis of a new socialist sexual morality. But Russians were not ready for her vision of emancipation, and she was sent away to Norway to serve as the first Russian female ambassador (and only the third female ambassador in the world).In this podcast, Kristen R. Ghodsee – a professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence (Bold Type Books 2018) – selects excerpts from the essays, speeches, and fiction of Alexandra Kollontai and puts them in context. Each episode provides an introduction to the abridged reading with some relevant background on Kollontai and the historical moment in which she was writing.... Show More

Episodes

February 14, 2021 18 min

Kristen Ghodsee discusses the political economy of Valentine's Day and reads an excerpt from Alexandra Kollontai's 1911 book review of The Sexual Crisis by Grete Meisel-Hess.  In this section of "Love and the New Morality," Kollontai critiques the institution of bourgeois monogamous marriage as it existed in 1911.

Ghodsee  also mentions several recent video appearances on Youtube:

Youtube: Economic Update with Richar...

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In this bonus episode, Kristen Ghodsee discusses the surprise hit series Bridgerton with her daughter and the University of Pennsylvania graduate student, Angelina Eimannsberger. According to a Netflix announcement on January 27th, 2021, 85 million households have streamed the series, making it the most streamed series on Netflix in its history.

In this episode, Ghodsee and her guests ask whether Alexandra Kollontai would have love...

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Kristen Ghodsee reads Alexandra Kollontai's 1917 article "Our Tasks," written in the immediate aftermath of the October Revolution. Ghodsee also celebrates the social media activism of the K-Pop stans who took over Twitter on January 22, 2021.

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A Note from Kristen Ghodsee:

"January 2021 will be the two year anniversary of the A.K. 47 podcast. To honor this anniversary, my daughte...

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Kristen R. Ghodsee reads Adrienne Rich’s 1983 poem, “North American Time,” in which Rich name-checks Alexandra Kollontai. Ghodsee reflects on the events of the January 2021 “Capitol Insurrection,” the influence of political correctness, and the responsibilities of “verbal privilege.” Rich also mentions the amazing Puerto Rican poet Julia de Borgos.

You can watch Adrienne Rich read North American Time on YouTube.


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Kristen Ghodsee reads a letter Kollontai wrote to the English suffragist and socialist, Dora Montefiore. It is an update of the work of the revolution, and Kollontai is remarkably candid about the struggles they were facing and the work remaining to be done. The letter is an interesting look at the status of socialist women's activism almost exactly one century ago.


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A Note from Kristen Ghodsee:

"January 2021...

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Kristen Ghodsee reads Alexandra Kollontai's 1946 essay, "Lenin thought of both great and small," which reflects on her memories of Christmas 1917. Nadezhda Konstantinovna refers to Lenin's wife and Maria Ilyinichna is Lenin's sister.  In this article, Kollontai reflects on the importance of small acts of kindness.

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A Note from Kristen Ghodsee:

"January 2021 will be the t...

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In this episode, Kristen R. Ghodsee reads an endnote included with the text of Kollontai's 1946 article The Soviet Woman - A Full and Equal Citizen of Her Country. This endnote was included in 1984 by the Soviet editors of the collection of Kollontai's writing to highlight the real strides the Soviet Union was attempting to make toward true women's equality. Ghodsee discusses the Cold War context for the endnote and whe...

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Kristen Ghodsee discusses the later decades of Alexandra Kollontai's life and reads an abridged version of her 1946 essay, "The Soviet Woman, A Full and Equal Citizen of Her Country." This essay was written in the aftermath of World War II and was published in Soviet Woman. Its goal is to encourage Soviet women to have babies while also working to rebuild the Soviet economy.  

Although Kollontai is undoubtedly pro-natali...

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In this Thanksgiving Day episode, Kristen Ghodsee discusses why she is not going to finish reading Red Love on the podcast, but discusses the overall themes of the novella. Mentioned in this episode are:

Alexandra Kollontai, Love of Worker Bees (Translated by Cathy Porter). Cassandra Editions: 1977. The novella is published here as "Vasilisa Malygina."

Kristen Ghodsee, The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfille...

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September 22, 2020 21 min

Kristen R. Ghodsee reads Part Two of Chapter Six of the 1927 English translation of Alexandra Kollontai's 1923 novella, Red Love

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September 13, 2020 22 min

Kristen R. Ghodsee reads Part One of Chapter Six of the 1927 English translation of Alexandra Kollontai's 1923 novella, Red Love

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In this bonus episode, Kristen Ghodsee speaks with her daughter about care work in the time of coronavirus lockdowns. As the school year begins in the United States, many children are learning remotely, creating an incredible burden on working parents. How can you socialize childcare and other forms of care work during a pandemic when institutional options are few and far between, and when state and local budgets are shrinking? How...

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In this episode, Kristen Ghodsee takes a break from reading Red Love to reflect on the state of the world during the coronavirus pandemic and how to cope with political despair and what the Germans aptly call Weltschmerz

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August 6, 2020 20 min

Kristen R. Ghodsee reads Part Two of Chapter Five of the 1927 English translation of Alexandra Kollontai's 1923 novella, Red Love.

August Special: All E-books of Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence are only $2.99 for August 2020 in the United States.

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Kristen R. Ghodsee discusses the ongoing protests in Portland, Oregon and reads Part One of Chapter Five of the 1927 English translation of Alexandra Kollontai's 1923 novella, Red Love.

Mentioned in this episode are: the Wall of Moms, the Mothers of the Disappeared, Women in Black, the women who marched in Russia in February 1917, and the women's march to Versailles in 1789

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July 20, 2020 20 min

Kristen R. Ghodsee reads Chapter Four of the 1927 English translation of Alexandra Kollontai's 1923 novella, Red Love.

Mentioned in the episode are the Wobblies, the Industrial Workers of the World.

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July 13, 2020 28 min

Kristen R. Ghodsee reads Chapter Three of the 1927 English translation of Alexandra Kollontai's 1923 novella, Red Love

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A brief meta-reflection on the 1927 English translation of Alexandra Kollontai's 1923 novella, Red Love. Kristen R. Ghodsee pauses in her reading to discuss relationships, Hype Beasts, capitalism, and feminism with her 18-year-old daughter.

Mentioned is this episode is this TikTok by Sally as well as this song by Lizzo. 

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Kristen R. Ghodsee reads part 2 of Chapter Two of the 1927 English translation of Alexandra Kollontai's 1923 novella, Red Love.

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Kristen R. Ghodsee reads part one of Chapter Two of the 1927 English translation of Alexandra Kollontai's 1923 novella, Red Love.

Mentioned in this episode are the following books:

  • Amis, B.D. African American Radical: A Short Anthology of Writings and Speeches.
  • Andrews, Gregg. Thyra J. Edwards: Black Activist in the Global Freedom Struggle.
  • Davies, Carole Boyce. Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones...
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