FD Renata Ingbrant (SU):  

(Re)Normalizing Female Masculinity: The Case of the Polish Insurgent Anna Henryka Pustowójtówna (1838–1881)

Among the pictographic and historiographical representations of women involved in Polish national insurrections, the image of Anna Henryka Pustowójtówna (1838-1881) as a woman in a man’s uniform is undoubtedly most unique, iconic and captivating. Her legacy today, however, remains undecided. The daughter of a tsarist general of Hungarian origin and a Polish mother, Pustowójtówna took an active part in the Polish combat against the tsarist Russia in 1863. Despite her mixed parentage, Anna Henryka thought of herself as Polish and already in her early twenties she was an active member of the Polish underground independence movement. In the recent studies of women’s involvement in the Polish patriotic conspiracy in the 19th century, Pustowójtówna appears as an epitome of the fate of all female insurgents – the so-called “silent heroines”. The paper focuses on the transgressive agency of the figure of Pustowójtówna: the emancipatory idea of a crossdressing soldier versus the normalizing power of literary/cultural convention. It also reflects on the role of heros in Polish collective memory in general, and the absence of women heroes in particular.