Katya Motyl is an historian of gender and sexuality in Central Europe.
She received her PhD in Modern European History from the University of Chicago in 2017. Currently, she serves as the Central and Eastern Europe editor for the history of sexuality blog, NOTCHES: (re)marks on the history of sexuality.
Katya’s dissertation, ‘Bodies That Shimmer: An Embodied History of Vienna's New Women, 1893–1931’, traces the experience and performance of new womanhood in Vienna between the fin de siècle and the interwar period. For male contemporaries, the New Woman was a member of the deviant ‘third sex’ and a symbol of Vienna’s ‘sexual crisis’. ‘Bodies That Shimmer’ shifts the focus from the imagined New Woman to Vienna’s ‘new’ women on the ground: urban working-class and bourgeois women who subverted gender norms and sexual conventions by articulating a new kind of femininity. Drawing on feminist theory, the dissertation reveals that women articulated this new femininity through the body. At its core, ‘Bodies That Shimmer’ reveals that femininity is neither a stable nor a unified category, but one that changes over time. Even further, it shows that new womanhood was not necessarily emancipatory, but rather, complex and contradictory.
As a Max Weber Fellow, Katya plans to develop her dissertation into a book manuscript aimed at a wide audience of scholars interested in East Central Europe, urban space, the body, and gender and sexuality. In addition, Katya will begin her second project, which will be a transnational history of pornography in Central and Eastern Europe from the nineteenth century through the twentieth.
Katya has taught undergraduate courses in modern European and East Central European history, gender and sexuality studies, as well as urban studies.