The University of Wisconsin Press
From the Womb to the Body Politic
Raising the Nation in Enlightenment Russia
A striking examination of gender, society, and culture in Russia during the era of Catherine the Great
In Russia during the second half of the eighteenth century, a public conversation emerged that altered perceptions of pregnancy, birth, and early childhood. Children began to be viewed as a national resource, and childbirth heralded new members of the body politic. The exclusively female world of mothers, midwives, and nannies came under the scrutiny of male physicians, state institutions, a host of zealous reformers, and even Empress Catherine the Great.
Making innovative use of obstetrical manuals, belles lettres, children’s primers, and other primary documents from the era, Anna Kuxhausen draws together many discourses—medical, pedagogical, and political—to show the scope and audacity of new notions about childrearing. Reformers aimed to teach women to care for the bodies of pregnant mothers, infants, and children according to medical standards of the Enlightenment. Kuxhausen reveals both their optimism and their sometimes fatal blind spots in matters of implementation. In examining the implication of women in public, even political, roles as agents of state-building and the civilizing process, From the Womb to the Body Politic offers a nuanced, expanded view of the Enlightenment in Russia and the ways in which Russians imagined their nation while constructing notions of childhood.
“A pleasure to read and a long-awaited, welcome contribution to the fields of eighteenth-century studies, women’s history, the history of education, and the history of medicine.”—Rebecca Friedman, author of Masculinity, Autocracy and the Russian University, 1804–1863Anna Kuxhausen is associate professor of history at St. Olaf College.
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Of related interest:
The Body Soviet
Propaganda, Hygiene, and the Revolutionary State
LC: 2012013016 HQ
242 pp. 6 x 9 9 b/w illus.,
2 maps, 1 table
Paper $29.95 s
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“Anna Kuxhausen combines meticulous and path-breaking research with sophisticated argument to shed new light on little-known aspects of eighteenth-century Russian history.”
—Adele Lindenmeyr, Villanova University
A Mellon Slavic Studies Initiative Book
This book is part of a five-year initiative for publishing first books by scholars in the fields of Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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Updated January 31, 2013© 2013 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System