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What is Russia? Who are Russians? What is 'Russianness'? The question of national identity has long been a vexed one in Russia, and is particularly pertinent in the post-Soviet period. For a thousand years these questions have been central to the work of Russian writers, artists, musicians, film-makers, critics, politicians and philosophers. Questions of national self-identity permeate Russian cultural self-expression. This wide-ranging study, designed for students of Russian literature, culture, and history, explores aspects of national identity in Russian culture from medieval times to the present day. Written by an international team of scholars, the volume offers an accessible overview and a broad, multi-faceted introductory account of this central feature of Russian cultural history. The book is comprehensive and concise; it combines general surveys with a wide range of specific examples to convey the rich texture of Russian cultural expression over the past thousand years.
The Routledge Companion to Cultural History in the Western World is a comprehensive examination of recent discussions and findings in the exciting field of cultural history. A synthesis of how the new cultural history has transformed the study of history, the volume is divided into three parts – medieval, early modern and modern – that emphasize the way people made sense of the world around them. Contributions cover such themes as material cultures of living, mobility and transport, cultural exchange and transfer, power and conflict, emotion and communication, and the history of the senses. The focus is on the Western world, but the notion of the West is a flexible one. In bringing together 36 authors from 15 countries, the book takes a wide geographical coverage, devoting continuous attention to global connections and the emerging trend of globalization. It builds a panorama of the transformation of Western identities, and the critical ramifications of that evolution from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century, that offers the reader a wide-ranging illustration of the potentials of cultural history as a way of studying the past in a variety of times, spaces and aspects of human experience. Engaging with historiographical debate and covering a vast range of themes, periods and places, The Routledge Companion to Cultural History in the Western World is the ideal resource for cultural history students and scholars to understand and advance this dynamic field.
From the mid-sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century Russia was transformed from a moderate-sized, land-locked principality into the largest empire on earth. How did systems of information and communication shape and reflect this extraordinary change? Information and Mechanisms of Communication in Russia, 1600-1850 brings together a range of contributions to shed some light on this complex question. Communication networks such as the postal service and the gathering and circulation of news are examined alongside the growth of a bureaucratic apparatus that informed the government about its country and its people. The inscription of space is considered from the point of view of mapping and the changing public ‘graphosphere’ of signs and monuments. More than a series of institutional histories, this book is concerned with the way Russia discovered itself, envisioned itself and represented itself to its people. Innovative and scholarly, this collection breaks new ground in its approach to communication and information as a field of study in Russia. More broadly, it is an accessible contribution to pre-modern information studies, taking as its basis a country whose history often serves to challenge habitual Western models of development. It is important reading not only for specialists in Russian Studies, but also for students and non-Russianists who are interested in the history of information and communications.
This book provides a thorough survey and analysis of the emergence and functions of written culture in Rus (covering roughly the modern East Slav lands of European Russia, Ukraine and Belarus). Part I introduces the full range of types of writing: the scripts and languages, the materials, the social and physical contexts, ranging from builders' scratches on bricks through to luxurious parchment manuscripts. Part II presents a series of thematic studies of the 'socio-cultural dynamics' of writing, in order to reveal and explain distinctive features in the Rus assimilation of the technology. The comparative approach means that the book may also serve as a case-study for those with a broader interest either in medieval uses of writing or in the social and cultural history of information technologies. Overall, the impressive scholarship and idiosyncratic wit of this volume commend it to students and specialists in Russian history and literature alike. Awarded the Alec Nove Prize, given by the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies for the best book of 2002 in Russian, Soviet or Post-Soviet studies.
This is the first book to place Russia's 'long' eighteenth century squarely in its European context. The conceptual framework is set out in an opening critique of modernisation which, while rejecting its linear implications, maintains its focus on the relationship between government, economy and society. Following a chronological introduction, a series of thematic chapters (covering topics such as finance and taxation, society, government and politics, culture, ideology, and economy) emphasise the ways in which Russia's international ambitions as an emerging great power provoked administrative and fiscal reforms with wide-ranging (and often unanticipated) social consequences. This thematic analysis allows Simon Dixon to demonstrate that the more the tsars tried to modernise their state, the more backward their empire became. A chronology and critical bibliography are also provided to allow students to discover more about this colourful period of Russian history.
What madness meant was a fiercely contested question in Soviet society. State of Madness examines the politically fraught collision between psychiatric and literary discourses in the years after Joseph Stalin's death. State psychiatrists deployed set narratives of mental illness to pathologize dissenting politics and art. Dissidents such as Aleksandr Vol'pin, Vladimir Bukovskii, and Semen Gluzman responded by highlighting a pernicious overlap between those narratives and their life stories. The state, they suggested in their own psychiatrically themed texts, had crafted an idealized view of reality that itself resembled a pathological work of art. In their unsanctioned poetry and prose, the writers Joseph Brodsky, Andrei Siniavskii, and Venedikt Erofeev similarly engaged with psychiatric discourse to probe where creativity ended and insanity began. Together, these dissenters cast themselves as psychiatrists to a sick society. By challenging psychiatry's right to declare them or what they wrote insane, dissenters exposed as a self-serving fiction the state's renewed claims to rationality and modernity in the post-Stalin years. They were, as they observed, like the child who breaks the spell of collective delusion in Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Emperor's New Clothes." In a society where normality means insisting that the naked monarch is clothed, it is the truth-teller who is pathologized. Situating literature's encounter with psychiatry at the center of a wider struggle over authority and power, this bold interdisciplinary study will appeal to literary specialists; historians of culture, science, and medicine; and scholars and students of the Soviet Union and its legacy for Russia today.