Pushkin, the Decembrists, and Civic Sentimentalism (Publications of the Wisconsin Center for Pushkin Studies) (Hardcover)

Pushkin, the Decembrists, and Civic Sentimentalism (Publications of the Wisconsin Center for Pushkin Studies) By Emily Wang Cover Image


In December 1825, a group of liberal aristocrats, officers, and intelligentsia mounted a coup against the tsarist government of Russia. Inspired partially by the democratic revolutions in the United States and France, the Decembrist movement was unsuccessful; however, it led Russia’s civil society to new avenues of aspiration and had a lasting impact on Russian culture and politics. Many writers and thinkers belonged to the conspiracy while others, including the poet Alexander Pushkin, were loosely or ambiguously affiliated. While the Decembrist movement and Pushkin’s involvement has been well covered by historians, Emily Wang takes a novel approach, examining the emotional and literary motivations behind the movement and the dramatic, failed coup. 

Through careful readings of the literature of Pushkin and others active in the northern branch of the Decembrist movement, such as Kondraty Ryleev, Wilhelm Küchelbecker, and Fyodor Glinka, Wang traces the development of “emotional communities” among the members and adjacent writers. This book illuminates what Wang terms “civic sentimentalism”: the belief that cultivating noble sentiments on an individual level was the key to liberal progress for Russian society, a core part of Decembrist ideology that constituted a key difference from their thought and Pushkin’s. The emotional program for Decembrist community members was, in other ways, a civic program for Russia as a whole, one that they strove to enact by any means necessary. 

About the Author

Emily Wang is an assistant professor in the Department of German and Russian Languages at the University of Notre Dame.

Praise For…

“Emily Wang's concept of ‘civic sentimentalism’ is an exciting and novel interpretative framework for a puzzling period in Russian literature and culture.  Her engaging book gives us an entirely new understanding of Decembrism and the literary works associated with it.”—Joe Peschio, author of The Poetics of Impudence and Intimacy in the Age of Pushkin

Product Details
ISBN: 9780299345808
ISBN-10: 0299345807
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Publication Date: October 31st, 2023
Pages: 224
Language: English
Series: Publications of the Wisconsin Center for Pushkin Studies