Challenging the Barriers of Expectation: Female Voices in Russian Literature in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century

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Provotorova, Valeria, Slavic Languages and Literatures - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Connolly, Julian, AS-Slavic Languages & Lit, University of Virginia
Herman, David, AS-Slavic Languages & Lit, University of Virginia
Dianina, Katia, AS-Slavic Languages & Lit, University of Virginia
Geraci, Robert, Department of History, The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

This dissertation examines and compares the works of five women writers active in the Russian Empire in the first half of the nineteenth century – Anna Bunina, Nadezhda Teplova, Elena Gan, Evdokiia Rostopchina, and Karolina Pavlova. The messages found in the prose and poetry of these women lead to a deeper understanding of the lives and experiences of women writers from their own perspective. To establish the context for an examination of these writers’ works, the dissertation first describes the social, educational, and economic conditions in which Russian women lived in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, as well as the opportunities and expectations they faced in society. It then provides a concise biography of each writer. The main portion of the project closely analyzes and compares the women’s literary works in terms of three main categories – their views on love and marriage, womanhood, and on the relationship their works explore between the authors’ identities as writers and as women. I argue that by evaluating these themes and literary works together with historical and biographical backgrounds, patterns of ideas, opinions, and feelings can be identified that show woman writers’ voices becoming more confident, self-aware of their position in life, and ultimately, more critical of society.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Women's Literature, Russian Literature, Anna Bunina, Elena Gan, Nadezhda Teplova, Evdokiia Rostopchina, Karolina Pavlova, Russian Poetry, Russian Prose, Nineteenth Century Literature, Russian History
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