Late Imperial Russia’s revolution in literacy touched nearly every aspect of daily life and culture, from social mobility and national identity to the sensibilities and projects of the country’s greatest writers. Within a few decades, a ragtag assembly of semi-educated authors, publishers, and distributors supplanted an oral tradition of songs and folktales with a language of popular imagination suitable for millions of new readers of common origins eager for entertainment and information. When Russia Learned to Read tells the story of this profound transformation of culture, custom, and belief.
With a new introduction that underscores its relevance to a post-Soviet Russia, When Russia Learned to Read addresses the question of Russia’s common heritage with the liberal democratic market societies of Western Europe and the United States. This prize-winning book also exposes the unsuspected complexities of a mass culture little known and less understood in the West. Jeffrey Brooks brings out the characteristically Russian aspect of the nation’s popular writing as he ranges through chapbooks, detective stories, newspaper serials, and women’s fiction, tracing the emergence of secular, rational, and cosmopolitan values along with newly minted notions of individual initiative and talent. He shows how crude popular tales and serials of the era find their echoes in the literary themes of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and other great Russian writers, as well as in the current renaissance of Russian detective stories and thrillers.
This book explores cultural change in a Chinese city following the Manchu conquest of 1644. The city of Yangzhou, at the intersection of the Grand Canal and the Yangzi river, is best known as the site of human and physical devastation during the conquest and as a vibrant commercial center during the eighteenth century. It focuses on the period between the conquest and the city’s commercial florescence—a moment in which Yangzhou was a center of literary culture that was consciously conceived as transregional and transdynastic. Building Culture shows how Yangzhou’s elite used physical sites as markers in the reconstruction of the city, and as vehicles consolidating power and prestige. Gradually, however, the gestures and sites of the postconquest elite were appropriated by the city’s increasingly powerful salt merchants and incorporated into a court-oriented culture centered at Beijing.
Chen Hongmou (1696–1771) was arguably the most influential Chinese official of the 18th century and unquestionably its most celebrated field administrator. He served as governor-general, governor, or in lesser provincial-level posts in more than a dozen provinces, achieving after his death cult status as a “model official.”
In this magisterial study, the author draws on Chen’s life and career to answer a range of questions: What did mid-Qing bureaucrats think they were doing? How did they conceive the universe and their society, what did they see as their potential to “save the world,” and what would the world, properly saved, be like? The answers to these questions are important not only because vast numbers of people were subject to these officials’ governance, but because the verdict of their successors was that they did their jobs remarkably well and should be emulated.
Three persistent tensions in elite consciousness focus the author’s investigation. First, the elite adhered to the fundamentalist moral dictates of Song neo-Confucian orthodoxy at the same time that a new valuation of pragmatic, technocratic prowess abhorrent to the moral tradition emerged. Second, two contradictory views on the use of “statecraft” to achieve an ordered world were in play—one that favored the expansive use of the state apparatus, and one that emphasized indigenous local elites and communities. Finally, the subordination of human beings to the service of hierarchical social groupings contended with a growing appreciation of the dignity, moral worth, and productive potential of the individual.
The author uses a holistic approach, attempting, for example, to explore how notions regarding gender roles and funerary ritual related to Qing economic thought, how the encounter with other cultures on the expanding frontiers helped form ideas of “civilized” conduct at home, and how an official’s negotiation of the complex Qing bureaucracy affected his approach to social policy. The author also considers how attitudes formed during the prosperous and highly dynamic eighteenth century conditioned China’s responses to the crises it confronted in the centuries to follow.
“Thank you, our Stalin, for a happy childhood.” “Thank you, dear Marshal [Stalin], for our freedom, for our children’s happiness, for life.” Between the Russian Revolution and the Cold War, Soviet public culture was so dominated by the power of the state that slogans like these appeared routinely in newspapers, on posters, and in government proclamations. In this penetrating historical study, Jeffrey Brooks draws on years of research into the most influential and widely circulated Russian newspapers—including Pravda, Isvestiia, and the army paper Red Star—to explain the origins, the nature, and the effects of this unrelenting idealization of the state, the Communist Party, and the leader.
Brooks shows how, beginning with Lenin, the Communists established a state monopoly of the media that absorbed literature, art, and science into a stylized and ritualistic public culture—a form of political performance that became its own reality and excluded other forms of public reflection. He presents and explains scores of self-congratulatory newspaper articles, including tales of Stalin’s supposed achievements and virtue, accounts of the country’s allegedly dynamic economy, and warnings about the decadence and cruelty of the capitalist West. Brooks pays particular attention to the role of the press in the reconstruction of the Soviet cultural system to meet the Nazi threat during World War II and in the transformation of national identity from its early revolutionary internationalism to the ideology of the Cold War. He concludes that the country’s one-sided public discourse and the pervasive idea that citizens owed the leader gratitude for the “gifts” of goods and services led ultimately to the inability of late Soviet Communism to diagnose its own ills, prepare alternative policies, and adjust to new realities.
The first historical work to explore the close relationship between language and the implementation of the Stalinist-Leninist program, Thank You, Comrade Stalin! is a compelling account of Soviet public culture as reflected through the country’s press.
In this story of the impact of slave trade on an insular African society, Larson explores how the people of highland Madagascar reshaped their social identity and their cultural practices. As Larson argues, the modern Merina ethnic identity and some of its key cultural traditions were fashioned and refashioned through localized experiences of enslavement and mercantile capitalism and by a tension-filled political dialogue among common highland Malagasy and their rulers. Larson’s analysis expands traditional definitions of the African diaspora to include forcible exile of African slaves within the African continent as well as areas external to it. By locating Merina history within wider narratives of merchant capitalism, African history, African diaspora, and Indian Ocean history, Larson has produced a book that both recognizes the diversity of historical experience and highlights the structural connections of intercontinentally joined systems of forced labor.
In Primers for Prudery Ronald G. Walters examines the historical and social context as well as the substance of sexual advice manuals in 19th-century America. Allowing the authors of these manuals to speak for themselves—with generous excerpts by contemporary authorities on subjects ranging from the virtues of celibacy to the vices of masturbation—Walters offers his readers a complex reading of the Victorian “prudery” referred to in the book’s title. Supplementing each of the excerpts with extensive commentary, he places the advice manuals in the larger setting of gender and class issues.
First published in 1974, Primers for Prudery now returns to print in a paperback edition with new selections from women’s advice to women and a new preface in which Walters discusses changes that have occurred in the scholarship on sexuality since the book’s first publication. He also provides an updated bibliographical note.
Ideal either as a textbook or anthology, this volume encompasses the entire chronology of the French Revolution, while highlighting the political, cultural, and social diversity of the period.
On the eve of the American Revolution, nearly three-quarters of all African Americans in mainland British America lived in two regions: the Chesapeake, centered in Virginia, and the Lowcountry, with its hub in South Carolina. Here, Philip Morgan compares and contrasts African American life in these two regional black cultures, exploring the differences as well as the similarities. The result is a detailed and comprehensive view of slave life in the colonial American South.
Morgan explores the role of land and labor in shaping culture, the everyday contacts of masters and slaves that defined the possibilities and limitations of cultural exchange, and finally the interior lives of blacks—their social relations, their family and kin ties, and the major symbolic dimensions of life: language, play, and religion. He provides a balanced appreciation for the oppressiveness of bondage and for the ability of slaves to shape their lives, showing that, whatever the constraints, slaves contributed to the making of their history. Victims of a brutal, dehumanizing system, slaves nevertheless strove to create order in their lives, to preserve their humanity, to achieve dignity, and to sustain dreams of a better future.
Networks of Innovation offers a historical perspective on the manner in which private sector organizations have acquired, sustained, and periodically lost the ability to develop, manufacture, and market new serum antitoxins and vaccines. The primary focus is on the H. K. Mulford Company, on Sharp & Dohme, which acquired Mulford in 1929, and on Merck & Co., Inc., which merged with Sharp & Dohme in 1953. By surveying a century of innovation in biologicals, the authors show how the activities of these three commercial enterprises were related to a series of complex, evolving networks of scientific, governmental, and medical institutions in the United States and abroad.
For this new edition of American Reformers 1815-1860, Ronald G. Walters has amplified and updated his exploration of the fervent and diverse outburst of reform energy that shaped American history in the early years of the Republic. Capturing in style and substance the vigorous and often flamboyant men and women who crusaded for such causes as abolition, temperance, women’s suffrage, and improved health care, Walters presents a brilliant analysis of how the reformers’ radical belief that individuals could fix what ailed America both reflected major transformations in antebellum society and significantly affected American culture as a whole.