Social Identity in Imperial Russia - NIU Series in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (Paperback)Elise Kimerling Wirtschafter (author)
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How did enlightened Russians of the eighteenth century understand society? And how did they reconcile their professed ideals of equality and justice with the authoritarian political structures in which they lived? Historian Elise Wirtschafter turns to literary plays to reconstruct the social thinking of the past and to discover how Enlightenment Russians understood themselves.
Opening with an illuminating discussion of the development of theater in eighteenth-century Russia, Wirtschafter goes on to explore dramatic representations of key social questions. Based on an examination of nearly 300 secular plays written during the last half of the century, she shows how dramas for the stage represented and debated important public issues-such as the nature of the common good, the structure of the patriarchal household, the duty of monarchs, and the role of the individual in society.
Wirtschafter presents a striking reconstruction of the way educated Russians conceptualized a society beyond the immediate spheres of household and locality. Seeking to highlight problems of "social consciousness," she asks what Enlightenment Russians thought about social experience-and how their ideas related to actual social relationships in a society organized around serfdom and absolute monarchy. She portrays Russian Enlightenment culture on its own terms, while at the same time shedding light on broader problems of social order and political authority in imperial Russia.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 271
Weight: 386 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
""A work of meticulous scholarship.... Readers will attain a rare sense of emotional and moral engagement in the Russian society of the era.
" -Richard Stites, Georgetown University
"A wonderfully conceived work of cultural history, well researched in its chosen primary sources, well structured, and well written.
" -James Cracraft, University of Illinois at Chicago
"A path-breaking and fascinating book from a prolific scholar.
" -Christine D. Worobec, author of Possessed"
""An important, stimulating, and useful contribution to our understanding of Russian society.
" -Canadian Slavonic Papers
"Wirtschafter has written a book that every historian of imperial Russia will need to read.... [S]he offers a challenging countermodel to traditional interpretations of Russian social history.
" -Times Literary Supplement
"An invaluable source of detailed information and compelling interpretations about social identities in imperial Russia.
" -Irish Slavonic Studies"
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