New Books Network

The Epistolary Art of Catherine the Great (Liverpool University Press, 2019) is the first scholarly monograph devoted to the comprehensive analysis of the letters...

The Epistolary Art of Catherine the Great (Liverpool University Press, 2019) is the first scholarly monograph devoted to the comprehensive analysis of the letters of Empress Catherine the Great of Russia (r. 1762-1796), as well as the first to examine the conventions of letter-writing by an 18th-century monarch after Louis XIV. Presenting a rich history of Catherine’s personal development as a letter writer in the context of 18th-century elite epistolary practice and drawing on contemporary epistolary theory, Kelsey Rubin-Detlev (Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Southern California) makes a significant contribution to the study of the Russian Enlightenment by re-evaluating the place that Catherine sought to occupy in the intellectual and cultural landscape of her time and detailing the central role that the letter played in her self-fashioning as an Enlightenment monarch. Rubin-Detlev argues that, contrary to the dominant scholarly tradition which argues that Catherine rejected Enlightenment ideals in the wake of the French Revolution, her epistolary corpus presents a much more complex image of a ruler whose own self-image remained unaltered to the end of her life.

Mentioned in the podcast: CatCor, the digital correspondence of Catherine the Great.


Diana Dukhanova is Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Her work focuses on religion and sexuality in Russian cultural history, and she is currently working on a monograph about Russian religious philosopher Vasily Rozanov. Diana tweets about contemporary events in the Russian religious landscape at https://twitter.com/RussRLGNWatch.