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Women on the Market: The Dowerless Bride in 19th-Century Russia (with Colleen Lucey and Discussant Katherine Pickering Antonova)
July 29, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Join us for another installment of the 19v Seminar Series!
In this talk, Colleen Lucey will give a brief overview of her forthcoming book, Love for Sale: Representing Prostitution in Imperial Russia, before presenting her chapter on the figure of the dowerless bride in nineteenth-century literature and visual culture. She will be joined by her discussant, Katherine Pickering Antonova. Evocative of women’s objectification and their secondary social status, dowerless brides embodied the commodification of marriage and the belief every woman could be purchased. To heighten the magnitude of the issue, writers such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Avdotia Panaeva, and Alexander Ostrovsky borrowed the metaphor of prostitution to explain the threat the commodification of marriage posed to the Russian family, and by extension the nation. Marriage, they argued, should not mirror the relationship between prostitute and client, whereby men “purchase” their wives in matrimony. Genre painters of the period, particularly Pavel Fedotov and Nikolai Shilder used their canvases to amplify fears that dowerless brides were easy prey to conniving procuresses or mercenary grooms. But as fiction and art depicted the dowerless bride as a social victim, a tension emerged regarding how much agency should be granted to women in matters of the heart, the home and, most importantly, the household budget.
Watch the event recap on YouTube here.