Narrative Re/Styling: Text and Fashion in Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature and Culture
- Author(s): Lacan, Sanja
- Advisor(s): Frank, Stephen
- Vroon, Ronald W
- et al.
This dissertation examines the symbolic role the fashion system played in the process of modernization of nineteenth-century Russian society, and in the articulation of that process in literary texts of the period. Because of its infinite potential for the creation of new and ambiguous meanings, as well as its formal similarity with literature, which requires constant innovation in order to sustain marketability, writing about fashion offered a rich context for debates about the nature of aesthetics, society, and modernity.
Each chapter focuses on a unique moment in the cultivation of fashion, taste, and consumer habits in the latter half of the nineteenth century, beginning with Nikolai Nekrasov and Ivan Panaev’s commodification of literature in their journalistic and literary texts of the 1840s, through Ivan Goncharov’s narratives of self-fashioning and Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s examination of commerce and ideology mid-century, to Leo Tolstoy’s commodification of the female subject in Anna Karenina during the 1870s, and its subsequent echoes in our contemporary cinematic experience of the novel. Rather than focusing on fashion per se, this dissertation instead examines fashion culture, which involves new social roles, new forms of communication, and ultimately new values and attitudes. My project thus considers the implications of fashion not only for the development of the Russian literary sphere in the nineteenth century, but also for our contemporary cultural processes.