Theses Doctoral

Sentimentalism Made Strange: Shklovsky, Karamzin, Rousseau

Annunziata, Alison Beth

This dissertation investigates the use of sentimentalist tropes in the work of Viktor Shklovsky, Nikolai Karamzin, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau in order to draw conclusions regarding the overlaps between eighteenth- and twentieth-century aesthetic imperatives. Specifically, it looks at love's literary forms--epistolary, triolet, conte--as models and spaces for autobiography, and compares love and self-expression as two literary phenomena that, for these three authors, demand the undoing of cultural mores as the means for their artistic portrayal. For the bulk of my analysis, I take the three authors' "Julie" texts--Rousseau's Julie, or The New Héloïse, Karamzin's "Julia," and Shklovsky's Zoo, or Letters Not About Love, a Third Eloise--in which love and self-expression meet to enact what I callSentimentalism made strange. Using estrangement (ostranenie), the literary device identified by Shklovsky, as an organizing principle, I investigate the cultural shift towards an underlying crude, elemental, and ultimately `savage' aesthetic that is treated in the work of the three authors I examine, and which sanctions a shift towards de-acculturation, de-institutionalization, and disarticulation that is seen in both sentimental and formalist fiction and criticism. While Rousseau factors into my analysis as the model sentimentalist, as the basis for Karamzin's and Shklovsky's own forays into Sentimentalism, in his effort to capture an authentic literary self he also estranges Sentimentalism's canonical forms, revealing, along with Karamzin, proto-formalist tendencies.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Slavic Languages
Thesis Advisors
Reyfman, Irina
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 16, 2013