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Becoming Muslim in Imperial RussiaConversion, Apostasy, and Literacy$
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Agnès Nilüfer Kefeli

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452314

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452314.001.0001

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date: 14 December 2018

Conclusion and Epilogue

Conclusion and Epilogue

Chapter:
(p.255) Conclusion and Epilogue
Source:
Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia
Author(s):

Agnès Nilüfer Kefeli

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801452314.003.0007

In the late nineteenth century hundreds of clubs formed across the United States devoted to the reading of Shakespeare. Composed mainly of women, these clubs offered the opportunity for members not only to read and study Shakespeare but also to participate in public and civic activities outside the home. This book uncovers this hidden layer of intellectual activity that flourished in American society well into the twentieth century. Shakespeare clubs were crucial for women's intellectual development because they provided a consistent intellectual stimulus (more so than was the case with most general women's clubs) and because women discovered a world of possibilities, both public and private, inspired by their reading of Shakespeare. Indeed, gathering to read and discuss Shakespeare often led women to actively improve their lot in life and make their society a better place. Many clubs took action on larger social issues such as women's suffrage, philanthropy, and civil rights. At the same time, these efforts served to embed Shakespeare into American culture as a marker for learning, self-improvement, civilization, and entertainment for a broad array of populations, varying in age, race, location, and social standing. This book shows the important role that literature can play in the lives of ordinary people. As testament to this fact, the book includes an appendix listing more than five hundred Shakespeare clubs across America.

Keywords:   Shakespeare clubs, intellectual activity, American society, women, intellectual development, American culture, literature

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