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Mother of the Church

Sofia Svechina, the Salon, and the Politics of Catholicism in Nineteenth-Century Russia and France

Sofia Petrovna Svechina (1782–1857), better known as Madame Sophie Swetchine, was the hostess of a famous nineteenth-century Parisian salon. A Russian émigré, Svechina moved to France with her husband in 1816. She had recently converted to Roman Catholicism, and the salon she opened acquired a distinctly religious character. It quickly became one of the most popular salons in Paris and was a meeting place for the French intellectual Catholic elite and members of the Liberal Catholic movement.

As a salonniére, Svechina developed close friendships with some of the most noted public figures in the Liberal Catholic movement. Her involvement with her guests went deeper than the typical salonniére’s. She was a mentor, spiritual counselor, and intellectual advisor to many distinguished Parisian men and women, and her influence extended beyond the walls of her salon into the public world of politics and ideas.

In this fascinating biography, Tatyana Bakhmetyeva seeks to understand the creative process that informed Svechina’s life and examines her subject in the context of nineteenth-century thought and letters. It will appeal to educated readers interested in European and Russian history, the history of Catholicism, and women’s history.

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A Motor-Flight Through France

Shedding the constraints that existed for women in turn-of-the-century America, Edith Wharton set out in the newly invented "motor-car" to explore the cities and countryside of France. Originally published in 1908, A Motor-Flight Through France is considered by many to be the very best of Wharton’s outstanding travel writings.

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A Nation Astray

Nomadism and National Identity in Russian Literature

The metaphor of the nomad may at first seem surprising for Russia given its history of serfdom, travel restrictions, and strict social hierarchy. But as the imperial center struggled to tame a vast territory with ever-expanding borders, ideas of mobility, motion, travel, wandering, and homelessness came to constitute important elements in the discourse about national identity. For Russians of the nineteenth century, national identity was anything but stable.

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Old Believers in a Changing World

Polish Narratives of World War ll

This important collection of essays by a pioneer in the field focuses on the history and culture of a conservative religious tradition whose adherents have fought to preserve their beliefs and practices from the 17th century through today. Old Belief had its origins in a protest against liturgical reforms in the Russian Orthodox Church in the mid-1600s and quickly grew into a complex torrent of opposition to the Russian state, the official church, and the social hierarchy. For Old Believers, periods of full religious freedom have been very brief—from 1905 to 1917 and since the fall of the Soviet Union. Crummey examines the ways in which Old Believers defend their core beliefs and practices and adjust their polemical strategies and way of life in response to the changing world. Opening chapters survey the historiography of Old Belief, examine the methodological problems in studying the movement as a Russian example of “popular religion,” and outline the first decades of the history. Particular themes of Old Believer history are the focus of the rest of the book, beginning with two sets of case studies of spirituality, culture, and intellectual life. Subsequent chapters analyze the diverse structures of Old Believer communities and their fate in times of persecution. A final essay examines publications of contemporary scholars in Novosibirsk whose work provides glimpses of the life of traditional believers in the Soviet period. Old Believers in a Changing World will appeal to scholars and students of Russian history, to those interested in Eastern Orthodoxy, and to those with an interest in the comparative history of religious movements.

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The Open Door

Early Modern Wajorese Statecraft and Diaspora

Kathryn Anderson Wellen

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Orphans

With Orphans, Ben Tanzer continues his ongoing literary survey of the 21st Century male psyche, yet does so with a newfound twist, contemporary themes set in a world that is anything but. In this dystopian tale of a future Chicago, workers are sent off to sell property on Mars to those who can afford to leave, leaving what’s left to those who have little choice but to make do with what’s left behind: burnt out neighborhoods, black helicopters policing the streets, flash mobs, the unemployed in their scruffy suits, robots taking the few jobs that remain, and clones who replace those workers who do find work so that a modicum of family stability can be maintained. It is a story about the impact of work on family. How work warps our best intentions. And how everything we think we know about ourselves looks different during a recession. This idea is writ large in the world of Orphans, where recession is all we know, work is only available to the lucky few, and this lucky few not only need to fear being replaced on the job, but in their homes and beds. It is also a story about drugs, surfing, punk music, lost youth, parenting, sex, pop culture as vernacular, and a conscious intersection of Death of a Salesman or Glengarry Glen Ross with the Martian Chronicles. Looking to the genre of science fiction has allowed Tanzer to produce something new and fresh, expanding both his literary horizons, and the potential market for his work. Tanzer also looks to the story of Bartleby the Scrivener with Orphans, and the question of what are we allowed as workers, and expected to be, or do, when work is fraught with desperation. Ultimately, Orphans is intended to be a contemporary story about manhood and what it means in today’s world, told from the perspective of work and family, and how any of us manage the parameters that family and work produce; but it’s a story told in a futuristic world, where our greatest fears are in fact already realized, because there isn’t enough of anything, and we are all too easily replaced.

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The Orthodox Church in the Arab World, 700 - 1700

An Anthology of Sources

Arabic was among the first languages in which the Gospel was preached. The Book of Acts mentions Arabs as being present at the first Pentecost in Jerusalem, where they heard the Christian message in their native tongue. Christian literature in Arabic is at least 1,300 years old, the oldest surviving texts dating from the 8th century. Pre-modern Arab Christian literature embraces such diverse genres as Arabic translations of the Bible and the Church Fathers, biblical commentaries, lives of the saints, theological and polemical treatises, devotional poetry, philosophy, medicine, and history. Yet in the Western historiography of Christianity, the Arab Christian Middle East is treated only peripherally, if at all.

The first of its kind, this anthology makes accessible in English representative selections from major Arab Christian works written between the 8th and 18th centuries. The translations are idiomatic while preserving the character of the original. The popular assumption is that in the wake of the Islamic conquests, Christianity abandoned the Middle East to flourish elsewhere, leaving its original heartland devoid of an indigenous Christian presence. Until now, several of these important texts have remained unpublished or unavailable in English. Translated by leading scholars, these texts represent the major genres of Orthodox literature in Arabic. Noble and Treiger provide an introduction that helps form a comprehensive history of Christians within the Muslim world. The collection marks an important contribution to the history of medieval Christianity and the history of the medieval Near East.
 

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Poland

The First Thousand Years

Patrice M. Dabrowski

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Politics as Usual

Thomas Dewey, Franklin Roosevelt, and the Wartime Presidential campaign of 1944

Michael A. Davis

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Power Tends to Corrupt

Lord Acton's Study of Liberty

Lord Acton (1834–1902) is often called a historian of liberty. A great historian and political thinker, he had a rare talent for reaching beneath the surface and revealing the hidden springs that move the world. While endeavoring to understand the components of a truly free society, Acton attempted to see how the principles of self-determination and freedom worked in practice, from antiquity to his own time. But though he penned hundreds of papers, essays, reviews, letters, and ephemera, the ultimate book of his findings and views on the history of liberty remained unwritten. Reading a book a day for years, he still could not keep pace with the output of his time, and finally, dejected, he gave up. Today, Acton is mainly known for a single maxim, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

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