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Title: Radical Chastity: The Politics of Abstinence in Late Nineteenth Century Russian Literature
Authors: Wilson, Jennifer Louise
Advisors: Emerson, Caryl
Contributors: Slavic Languages and Literatures Department
Keywords: abstinence
Subjects: Slavic literature
Gender studies
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Radical Chastity: The Politics of Abstinence in Late Nineteenth Century Russian Literature explores the motivations and consequences of the radical Russian intelligentsia's critique of sexual relations between men and women. The first chapter examines the origins of "radical chastity" by discussing the trope of shyness in the personal and literary writings of the Russian raznochintsy. The raznochintsy, unschooled in aristocratic forms of courtship, often described experiencing feelings of intense shyness in the presence of society women. Eventually, these shy awkward manners came to be identified with the progressive politics espoused by many from the raznochintsy class, and were consequently cultivated even by members of the aristocracy who wanted to demonstrate their allegiance to revolutionary politics. The first chapter also explores Fyodor Dostoevsky's critique of the radical movement's rejection of sexual relations and family ties in the novel Devils [Besy]. The second chapter examines the challenges that women faced inserting themselves into the radical ascetic tradition. Pervasive gender stereotypes called into question the ability of women to fully reject marriage and family. In order to challenge this prejudice, the women of the nihilist movement often adhered to the chaste revolutionary program with more rigor than the men in their circles. The second chapter focuses primarily on a group of Russian nihilist women who studied medicine at the University of Zurich in the 1870s, the Fritsch Circle, and their self-fashioning as chaste revolutionaries. The third chapter looks at spinsters in the novels of Lev Tolstoy, and explores the challenge that women who remained unmarried by choice posed to the status quo. The fourth and final chapter is devoted to how Tolstoy's articulation of radical chastity was received in America and Great Britain, specifically by sexologists like Alice B. Stockham and Havelock Ellis who similarly associated chastity with progressive political agendas. The dissertation uses anti-social queer theory, which examines the politics of non-reproductive sexuality, as its methodology.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Slavic Languages and Literatures

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