Open Letters: Russian Popular Culture and the Picture Postcard 1880-1922
During the fin-de-siècle and early revolutionary eras, picture postcards were an important medium of communication for Russians of all backgrounds. In Open Letters, the most comprehensive study of Russian picture postcards to date, Alison Rowley uses this medium to explore a variety of aspects of Russian popular culture. The book is lavishly illustrated with more than 130 images, most of which have never been published before.
Through her examinations of postcards, Rowley addresses a diverse range of topics: how landscape postcards conveyed notions of imperialism; the role of postcards in the rise of celebrity culture; depictions of the body on erotic and pornographic postcards; how postcards were employed to promote differing interpretations of the First World War; and the use of postcards by revolutionary groups seeking to overthrow the Tsarist government. Rowley determines the extent to which Russia was embedded in Europe-wide cultural trends by situating the Russian case within a larger European context.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 336 pages
- Illustrations: 138
- Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.0in x 9.3in
‘What Alison Rowley in Open Letters does well is provide a welcome overview of the postcard industry and introduce a new visual source to Russian scholars as well as ways to interpret these images. For that we are all in her debt.’
The Russian Review vol 73:04:2014
‘Open Letters is undoubtedly a valuable addition to the historiography of Russian popular culture of early twentieth century, which goes some way towards confirming the postcard as a significant cultural artifact both with and of history.
Slavonic & East European Review vol 92:04:2014
‘This is an Important and fascinating glimpse into the complementary construction of private Lives and public assumption in late imperial Russia.’
Revolutionary Russia vol 27:02:2014
‘Intriguing and beautifully produced book.’
Slavic Review vol 74:02:2015
‘Entering the world of Russian post cards allows one to savor something of the times in which they circulated and to sample an occasional message form one person to another… This book will be warmly welcomed by historians and students interested in Russia.’
The Journal of Modern History, vol 87:03:2015
“Open Letters is a wonderful contribution to Russian history, rich in insights into popular culture and shedding new light on a host of topics of central concern to scholars in the field. In comparison to western scholarship, Russian historiography has been slower to delve into cultural history using such resources as postcards, advertising, and popular entertainment, and so Alison Rowley’s book is an important contribution to an emerging field. It will find an eager audience among Russian historians, as well as European and American historians interested in comparative approaches to cultural history.”
Sally West, Truman State University
“Well-written and provided with fascinating illustrations, Open Letters is a major contribution to Russian history and cultural studies. The scholarship is very impressive: the author makes reference to a tremendously wide range of literary, artistic, and cultural sources dealing with all aspects of Russian life (and death), from gardens to pornography.”
Jonathan D. Smele, Queen Mary, University of London
Author InformationAlison Rowley is an associate professor in the Department of History at Concordia University.
Table of contents
Introduction: More than “Wish You Were Here”
- The Market for Picture Postcards in Russia
- The Landscapes of Russian Imperialism
- Gender and Celebrity Culture via the Lens of the Picture Postcard: The Case of Vera Kholodnaia, the “Queen of the Russian Screen”
- Bodies on Display: Romantic and Erotic Postcards in Fin-de-Siècle Russia
- Monarchy and the Mundane: Picture Postcards and Images of the Romanovs
- Beyond Patriotic Discourse: Picture Postcards and Russia’s World War I
- Picture Postcards and the Russian Revolution, 1905-1922
Epilogue: Picture Postcards across the Revolutionary Divide
Subjects and Courses