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Doubt, Atheism, and the Nineteenth-Century Russian Intelligentsia Cover

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Doubt, Atheism, and the Nineteenth-Century Russian Intelligentsia

Victoria Frede

The autocratic rule of both tsar and church in imperial Russia gave rise not only to a revolutionary movement in the nineteenth century but also to a crisis of meaning among members of the intelligentsia. Personal faith became the subject of intense scrutiny as individuals debated the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, debates reflected in the best-known novels of the day. Friendships were formed and broken in exchanges over the status of the eternal. The salvation of the entire country, not just of each individual, seemed to depend on the answers to questions about belief.
    Victoria Frede looks at how and why atheism took on such importance among several generations of Russian intellectuals from the 1820s to the 1860s, drawing on meticulous and extensive research of both published and archival documents, including letters, poetry, philosophical tracts, police files, fiction, and literary criticism. She argues that young Russians were less concerned about theology and the Bible than they were about the moral, political, and social status of the individual person. They sought to maintain their integrity against the pressures exerted by an autocratic state and rigidly hierarchical society. As individuals sought to shape their own destinies and searched for truths that would give meaning to their lives, they came to question the legitimacy both of the tsar and of Russia’s highest authority, God.

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Dubitando

Studies in History and Culture in Honor of Donald Ostrowski

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The Elusive Empire Cover

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The Elusive Empire

Kazan and the Creation of Russia, 1552–1671

Matthew P. Romaniello

In 1552, Muscovite Russia conquered the city of Kazan on the Volga River. It was the first Orthodox Christian victory against Islam since the fall of Constantinople, a turning point that, over the next four years, would complete Moscow’s control over the river. This conquest provided a direct trade route with the Middle East and would transform Muscovy into a global power. As Matthew Romaniello shows, however, learning to manage the conquered lands and peoples would take decades.
    Russia did not succeed in empire-building because of its strength, leadership, or even the weakness of its neighbors, Romaniello contends; it succeeded by managing its failures. Faced with the difficulty of assimilating culturally and religiously alien peoples across thousands of miles, the Russian state was forced to compromise in ways that, for a time, permitted local elites of diverse backgrounds to share in governance and to preserve a measure of autonomy. Conscious manipulation of political and religious language proved more vital than sheer military might. For early modern Russia, empire was still elusive—an aspiration to political, economic, and military control challenged by continuing resistance, mismanagement, and tenuous influence over vast expanses of territory.

Empire Jews Cover

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Empire Jews

Jewish Nationalism and Acculturation in 19th- and Early 20th-Century Russia

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The End and the Beginning Cover

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The End and the Beginning

The Revolutions of 1989 and the Resurgence of History

Edited by Vladimir Tismaneanu and Bogdan C. Iacob

A fresh interpretation of the contexts, meanings, and consequences of the revolutions of 1989, coupled with state of the art reassessment of the significance and consequences of the events associated with the demise of communist regimes. The book provides an analysis that takes into account the complexities of the Soviet bloc, the events’ impact upon Europe, and their re-interpretation within a larger global context. Departs from static ways of analysis (events and their significance) bringing forth approaches that deal with both pre-1989 developments and the 1989 context itself, while extensively discussing the ways of resituating 1989 in the larger context of the 20th century and of its lessons for the 21st. Emphasizes the possibility for re-thinking and re-visiting the filters and means that scholars use to interpret such turning point. The editors perceive the present project as a challenge to existing readings on the complex set of issues and topics presupposed by a re-evaluation of 1989 as a symbol of the change and transition from authoritarianism to democracy.

Epic Revisionism Cover

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Epic Revisionism

Russian History and Literature as Stalinist Propaganda

Edited by Kevin M. F. Platt and David Brandenberger

Focusing on a number of historical and literary personalities who were regarded with disdain in the aftermath of the 1917 revolution—figures such as Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Alexander Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, and Mikhail Lermontov—Epic Revisionism tells the fascinating story of these individuals’ return to canonical status during the darkest days of the Stalin era. 

    An inherently interdisciplinary project, Epic Revisionism features pieces on literary and cultural history, film, opera, and theater. This volume pairs scholarly essays with selections drawn from Stalin-era primary sources—newspaper articles, unpublished archival documents, short stories—to provide students and specialists with the richest possible understanding of this understudied phenomenon in modern Russian history.

“These scholars shed a great deal of light not only on Stalinist culture but on the politics of cultural production under the Soviet system.”—David L. Hoffmann, Slavic Review

Equality and Revolution Cover

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Equality and Revolution

Women's Rights in the Russian Empire, 1905-1917

Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild

The volume offers a fascinating profile of this planned community in two parts. The first examines Levittown from the inside, including oral histories of residents recalling how Levittown shaped their lives. The second part of the book views Levittown from the outside. Contributors consider the community's place in planning and architectural history and the Levitts' strategies for the mass production of housing. Bringing together some of the top scholars in architectural history, American studies, and landscape studies, Second Suburb explores the surprisingly rich interplay of design, technology, and social response that marks the emergence and maturation of an exceptionally potent rendition of the American Dream.

Erotic Nihilism in Late Imperial Russia Cover

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Erotic Nihilism in Late Imperial Russia

The Case of Mikhail Artsybashev's Sanin

Otto Boele

Banned shortly after its publication in 1907, the Russian novel Sanin scandalized readers with the sexual exploits of its eponymous hero. Wreaking havoc on the fictional town he visits in Mikhail Artsybashev’s story, the character Sanin left an even deeper imprint on the psyche of the real-life Russian public. Soon “Saninism” became the buzzword for the perceived faults of the nation. Seen as promoting a wave of hedonistic, decadent behavior, the novel was suppressed for decades, leaving behind only the rumor of its supposedly epidemic effect on a vulnerable generation of youth.
    Who were the Saninists, and what was their “teaching” all about? Delving into police reports, newspaper clippings, and amateur plays, Otto Boele finds that Russian youth were not at all swept away by the self-indulgent lifestyle of the novel’s hero. In fact, Saninism was more smoke than fire—a figment of the public imagination triggered by anxieties about the revolution of 1905 and the twilight of the Russian empire. The reception of the novel, Boele shows, reflected much deeper worries caused by economic reforms, an increase in social mobility, and changing attitudes toward sexuality.
    Showing how literary criticism interacts with the age-old medium of rumor, Erotic Nihilism in Late Imperial Russia offers a meticulous analysis of the scandal’s coverage in the provincial press and the reactions of young people who appealed to their peers to resist the novel’s nihilistic message. By examining the complex dialogue between readers and writers, children and parents, this study provides fascinating insights into Russian culture on the eve of World War I.
 

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Erotic Utopia

The Decadent Imagination in Russia's Fin de Siecle

Olga Matich

The first generation of Russian modernists experienced a profound sense of anxiety resulting from the belief that they were living in an age of decline. What made them unique was their utopian prescription for overcoming the inevitability of decline and death both by metaphysical and physical means. They intertwined their mystical erotic discourse with European degeneration theory and its obsession with the destabilization of gender. In Erotic Utopia, Olga Matich suggests that same-sex desire underlay their most radical utopian proposal of abolishing the traditional procreative family in favor of erotically induced abstinence.

 

2006 Winner, CHOICE Award for Outstanding Academic Titles, Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
 
Honorable Mention, Aldo and Jean Scaglione Prize for Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures, Modern Language Association

“Offers a fresh perspective and a wealth of new information on early Russian modernism. . . . It is required reading for anyone interested in fin-de-siècle Russia and in the history of sexuality in general.”—Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, Slavic and East European Journal

“Thoroughly entertaining.”—Avril Pyman, Slavic Review

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Estonian Life Stories

Edited by Tiina Kirss

This anthology contains 25 selected life stories collected from Estonians who lived through the tribulations of the 20 century, and describe the travails of ordinary people under numerous regimes. The autobiographical accounts provide authentic perspectives on events of this period, where time is placed in the context of life-spans, and subjects grounded in personal experience. Most of the life stories reveal sufferings under foreign (Russian) oppression.

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