The woman without qualities? The case of Alice Schalek, intellectual labour and female intellectuals
Alice Schalek (1874–1956) is still predominantly known as an Austrian war correspondent and one of the first women who practised this profession. Her life and work before and especially after World War I remain fairly unknown, as if the two years on the front were more defining for her than the other eight decades of her life. The paper will attempt to follow Alice Schalek’s ideological and intellectual development: from being an integral part of fin de siècle Viennese artistic society via communist experiments to becoming a tired old woman in American exile. In 1920 she wrote that “intellectual workers” were amongst the greatest victims of World War I; and the paper will follow her post-war transitions: social, intellectual and ideological. What did it mean to be a woman intellectual worker after World War I? Is there a difference between intellectual worker and the intellectual? The theory (Bourdieu, Weber, Gramsci, Benjamin) as well as historiography (Lepsius, Hertfelder, Hübinger) gave us some answers to the question of who is intellectual; but it seems they can mostly be relatable to men and their position in society. (Gramsci: “All men /sic!/ are intellectuals …”) What about women? Can we apply the same theoretical concepts to the female experience of intellectual labour? Or to put it simply, can we call Alice Schalek an intellectual?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Manca G. Renko studied History and Germanic studies at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana. She graduated from Germanic studies in 2011 and a year later from History (Slovenians and the Wiener Moderne). In 2012, she became an early stage researcher at the Institute for Historical Studies of the University of Primorska, where in 2017 she defended her PhD dissertation entitled The Role of Russia and the Importance of Slavic Reciprocity in the North Adriatic 1848–1914. During the years 2013–2016, she was also a teaching assistant for 19th Century History and Totalitarian and Authoritarian Ideologies of the 20th Centuryat the same university. She has researched in Ljubljana, Moscow and Vienna and participated in several international conferences. She is the author of several articles (scientific and popular) and afterwords, and she sometimes works as an editor of contemporary literary and theoretical works, translated into the Slovene language (Mathias Enard, Terry Eagleton, Maylis de Kerangal, Tatyana Tolstaya, Rachel Cusk, etc) and as an artistic director of the International Literary Festival Fabula. She is interested in cultural and intellectual history, critical theory and theory of history.
She collaborates on the EIRENE project.