Creating a 'public' in St Petersburg, 1703-1761
The thesis deals with the creation of a 'public' in St Petersburg during the first half of the eighteenth century. The term 'public' has generated a considerable historiography dealing with its implications for the field of eighteenth-century studies, which are discussed in the introduction along with the contemporary definitions of the word. In eighteenth-century Russia, the term 'public' usually carried the meaning of 'audience', typically in reference to the theatre and other spectacles. The definition of this and other similar terms provides an important framework through which to analyse the various elements of this phenomenon. This analysis has centred on the city of St Petersburg in this period for several reasons. Firstly, it was the seat of both the Russian government and the Court around a decade after its foundation and Peter I ensured its rapid population. Secondly, as a 'new' city, it was a space that could be consciously planned and shaped, which had an impact on both the everyday life of its population and the events which took place within the city. Thirdly, this period saw a considerable development in the socio-cultural life of the elite, effectively laying the foundations for the achievements of Catherine IF s reign. Each of the chapters of the thesis focuses on a different element within the process of creating a 'public', such as the means by which people could be informed or policed by the State, the various 'public' spaces in which they could interact, and the behaviour and appearance thought appropriate for a person in 'public'. The intention is to show that, through the activities of institutions like the Court and the Academy of Sciences, State legislation and developments in personal education, it is possible to see the emergence of a multi-layered 'public' within St Petersburg society. However, access to and interaction within such 'public' spaces was mediated by a number of factors such as literacy, social standing, and wealth.