Professors Kristen Ghodsee and Margaret Boyle each received an honorable mention for their respective research books last week. 

The Association for Women in Slavic Studies recognized Ghodsee’s book “The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfilled Promise of Communism,” as an honorable mention for the Heldt Prize for Best Book in Slavic and East European Women’s Studies. Ghodsee’s book examines communist sympathisers during World War II.

Boyle’s book, “Unruly Women: Performance, Penitence, and Punishment in Early Modern Spain,” received an honorable mention from The Society for the Study of Early Modern Women’s Best Book on Women and Gender for 2014. The book follows the lives of incarcerated women in Early Modern Spain.

Both professors based their books on prior research. Ghodsee, a professor of gender and women’s studies, researches communism in the Eastern European Bloc. Boyle, an assistant professor of romance languages and literatures, has been interested in Early Modern Spain since her undergraduate work at Reed College.

Boyle recommends her book to undergraduates because of the primary source materials within it.

 “You can look past the history that I’ve put together and look at what I think is very exciting, which is getting access to first person accounts of the creation of these jails,” she said. 

Both professors also teach courses at Bowdoin expanding on the material discussed in the books.

For students intrigued by “Left Side,” Ghodsee teaches two classes which relate to her book: “Radical Families, Radical Politics” and “Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Eastern Europe.”

“These courses focus on the operations of power, the intersections of race, gender and class and the popular mythologies about contemporary capitalism and its political alternatives,” Ghodsee said.

Boyle regularly teaches classes studying early modern literature, such as “Don Quixote,” as well as Spanish language classes. In the past, she has led seminars in the Spanish department, where she continued her emphasis on women in the early modern era. 

“If you have professors that you like or admire, take the time to read their books,” Ghodsee said. “In addition to teaching, we are also scholars producing knowledge in our disciplines, and our excitement for our research infuses our enthusiasm in the classroom.”

Ghodsee began writing “The Left Side of History” after a man set himself on fire a block away from her while visiting Eastern Europe in March of 2013.

“I wrote ‘The Left Side of History’ by mistake” said Ghodsee in an email to the Orient. “The smell of burning human flesh spurred me to put fingers to the keyboard.” 

“Unruly Women” examines the treatment of incarcerated women in Spain during the early modern era.

“I started out the project in the archives wanting to learn what it meant for women to be friends...and then one of the things I ended up learning about, or running into, were all these documents about the first jails and Magdalene houses created for women,” Boyle said in a phone interview with the Orient.

Boyle has been guided by colleagues and editors since she began dissertation on Early Modern Spain and received support for her book.

“Getting through the editing and revisions process and being optimistic about it all coming’s exciting to finally see it out,” she said.

Ghodsee recommends her book to any Bowdoin student tired of apathy and hipster irony. In it, she follows the political idealism of a Bulgarian peasant girl and an Oxford student fighting to build a better world. She contrasts the idealism present in her book with modern literature.

“These young people believed they could build a better world, and fought, and sometimes died, for those ideals,” Ghodsee said. “Right now, popular young adult literature posits a bleak dystopian future, but I think we need young people to start imagining utopias.  My book is maybe the academic equivalent of Disney’s Tomorrowland.”

Correction (November 1, 2015 at 10:20 a.m.): The article previously miswrote the name of the Heldt Prize for Best Book in Slavic and East European Women's Studies. It is the Heldt Prize for Best Book in Slavic and East European Women's Studies, not Heldt Prize for Best Book in Slavic and Eastern Studies. Eastern Bloc was also misspelled. It is Eastern Bloc not Eastern Block.