Dashkova: A Life of Influence and Exile (American Philosophical Society Transaction 97-3, ISBN: 0871699737)

July 3, 2010 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

Dashkova: A Life of Influence and Exile
(American Philosophical Society Transaction 97-3, ISBN: 0871699737)
by Alexander Woronzoff-Dashkoff (Paperback, 331 pages, 2008, $29.00)

DashkovaA woman of letters and the first woman member of the American Philosophical Society, Ekaterina Romanovna Dashkova (nee Vorontsova) was also the first modern stateswoman in Russia.

Early in her life she dressed in an officer’s uniform and boldly stepped forward to play an active role in the political arena, where she participated in the palace revolution of 1762. Subsequently, Dashkova was appointed director of the Academy of Sciences by Catherine II and she founded and became President of the Russian Academy. For close to 12 years, she headed both prestigious academic institutions.

She was a leading figure in 18th-century Russian culture as she strove to institute reforms, to adapt and apply the ideas of the Enlightenment, and to establish new approaches to the education of Russia’s youth. Sadly, her relationship with her own children was deeply tragic, and later in life she was exiled to the north of Russia.

This biography focuses on Dashkova’s efforts in her life and works to isolate, clarify, and define patterns of action, identity, and gender for herself as well as for other women. Illustrations.

“Demonstrating an encyclopedic knowledge of 18th century primary sources, politics, families, and personal relationships, Woronzoff-Dashkoff accomplishes both his scholarly and personal purposes by vividly recreating Dashkova’s life,” writes reviewer Sherri Thompson Raney in the journal The Russian Review (PDF). “He argues that she succeeded at doing man’s work in a man’s world by assuming a series of disguises and donning convincing masks.”

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