From The Womb To The Body Politic: Raising The Nation In Enlightenment Russia

Paperback | April 22, 2013

byAnna Kuxhausen

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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.

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From the Publisher

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 und...

Anna Kuxhausen is associate professor of history at St. Olaf College.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:242 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:April 22, 2013Publisher:University Of Wisconsin PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:029928994X

ISBN - 13:9780299289942

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
 
Introduction 3
1 The Meanings of Upbringing
2 The State and Midwifery
3 Mother's Milk and Wet Nurses
4 The Child's Body and the Body Politic
5 Character and National Identity in Upbringing for the People
6 The New Girlhood
Conclusion
 
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Discussions of the upbringing of children and its significance for Russian political and intellectual elites of the eighteenth century are the focus of Anna Kuxhausen’s welcome analysis of ideas and practices of childrearing in Enlightenment-era Russia. . . . A very rich and well researched book.”—Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth