"The Human Art of Friendship: Can Women be Friends?

To ask whether women can be friends is to ask whether they are fully human. For centuries, Western culture understood friendship as the unique preserve of men. When and how did women lay claim to friendship, and not just with men, but with one another? Why were homosocial friendships among women deemed dangerous and abnormal? Finally, how did women writers navigate these often unspoken boundaries and prohibitions? What might all this teach us about women’s friendship as key to our humanity today? In this talk, we’ll consider a case study of sorts, in eighteenth-century Russia, when the Sentimental cult of friendship and the so-called “feminization” of literature both idealized and excluded women’s voices.

About the speaker:  Professor Amanda Ewington is Professor of Russian Studies and Bacca Professor in the Humanities at Davidson College. Her scholarship focuses on Russia in the Age of Enlightenment, with a focus on women writers and Franco-Russian cultural exchange. Among other publications, she is the author of Russian Women Poets of the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth-Centuries for the series The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe.