Icon and Devotion offers the first extensive presentation in English of the making and meaning of Russian icons. The craft of icon-making is set into the context of forms of worship that emerged in the Russian Orthodox Church in the mid-seventeenth century. Oleg Tarasov shows how icons have held a special place in Russian consciousness because they represented idealized images of Holy Russia. He also looks closely at how and why icons were made. Wonder-working saints and the leaders of such religious schisms as the Old Believers appear in these pages, which are illustrated with miniature paintings, lithographs and engravings never before published in the English-speaking world.
By tracing the artistic vocabulary, techniques and working methods of icon painters, Tarasov shows how icons have been integral to the history of Russian art, influenced by folk and mainstream currents alike. As well as articulating the specifically Russian piety they invoke, he analyzes the significance of icons in the cultural life of modern Russia in the context of popular prints and poster design.
Recent years have witnessed a growing affinity between increasingly radicalized right-wing movements in the United States and Russia, countries that only recently viewed each other as intractable foes. In Illiberal Vanguard: Populist Elitism in the United States and Russia, Alexandar Mihailovic untangles this confluence, considering ethnonationalist movements in both countries and their parallel approaches to gender, race, and performative identity. Rather than probe specific points of possible contact or political collusion, Mihailovic unveils the mirrored styles of thought that characterize far-right elitism in two erstwhile enemy nations.
Mihailovic investigates notable right-wing actors like Steve Bannon and Alexander Dugin and targets of right-wing ire such as globalization, LGBTQ+ activism, and mobilizations to remove controversial statues (that honor Confederate generals and Soviet leaders, for instance), but the argument extends beyond the specifics. How and why are radical right-wing movements developing along such similar trajectories in two nominally oppositional countries? How do religious sectarianism, the construction of whiteness, and institutionalized homophobia support each other in this transnational, informal, but powerful allegiance? Despite their appeals to populism and flamboyant theatrics, Mihailovic argues, much of the answer can be found in the mutual desire to justify and organize an illiberal vanguard of elite intellectuals, one that supports and advocates for a new authoritarianism.
This volume presents work from an international group of writers who explore conceptualizations of what defined “East” and “West” in Eastern Europe, imperial Russia, and the Soviet Union. The contributors analyze the effects of transnational interactions on ideology, politics, and cultural production. They reveal that the roots of an East/West cultural divide were present many years prior to the rise of socialism and the cold war.
The chapters offer insights into the complex stages of adoption and rejection of Western ideals in areas such as architecture, travel writings, film, music, health care, consumer products, political propaganda, and human rights. They describe a process of mental mapping whereby individuals “captured and possessed” Western identity through cultural encounters and developed their own interpretations from these experiences. Despite these imaginaries, political and intellectual elites devised responses of resistance, defiance, and counterattack to defy Western impositions.
Socialists believed that their cultural forms and collectivist strategies offered morally and materially better lives for the masses and the true path to a modern society. Their sentiments toward the West, however, fluctuated between superiority and inferiority. But in material terms, Western products, industry, and technology, became the ever-present yardstick by which progress was measured. The contributors conclude that the commodification of the necessities of modern life and the rise of consumerism in the twentieth century made it impossible for communist states to meet the demands of their citizens. The West eventually won the battle of supply and demand, and thus the battle for cultural influence.
Imitations of Life views Russian melodrama from the eighteenth century to today as an unexpectedly hospitable forum for considering social issues. The contributors follow the evolution of the genre through a variety of cultural practices and changing political scenarios. They argue that Russian audiences have found a particular type of comfort in this mode of entertainment that invites them to respond emotionally rather than politically to social turmoil. Drawing on a wide variety of sources, including plays, lachrymose novels, popular movies, and even highly publicized funerals and political trials, the essays in Imitations of Life argue that melodrama has consistently offered models of behavior for times of transition, and that contemporary televised versions of melodrama continue to help Russians cope with national events that they understand implicitly but are not yet able to articulate. In contrast to previous studies, this collection argues for a reading that takes into account the subtle but pointed challenges to national politics and to gender and class hierarchies made in melodramatic works from both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Collectively, the contributors shift and cross borders, illustrating how the cultural dismissal of melodrama as fundamentally escapist and targeted primarily at the politically disenfranchised has subverted the drama’s own intrinsically subversive virtues. Imitations of Life will interest students and scholars of contemporary Russia, and Russian history, literature, and theater.
Contributors. Otto Boele, Julie Buckler, Julie Cassiday, Susan Costanzo, Helena Goscilo, Beth Holmgren, Lars Lih, Louise McReynolds, Joan Neuberger, Alexander Prokhorov, Richard Stites
After crushing the Polish Uprising in 1863–1864, Russia established a new system of administration and control. Imperial Russian Rule in the Kingdom of Poland, 1864–1915 investigates in detail the imperial bureaucracy’s highly variable relationship with Polish society over the next half century. It portrays the personnel and policies of Russian domination and describes the numerous layers of conflict and cooperation between the Tsarist officialdom and the local population. Presenting case studies of both modes of conflict and cooperation, Malte Rolf replaces the old, unambiguous “freedom-loving Poles vs. oppressive Russians” narrative with a more nuanced account and does justice to the complexity and diversity of encounters among Poles, Jews, and Russians in this contested geopolitical space. At the same time, he highlights the process of “provincializing the center,” the process by which the erosion of imperial rule in the Polish Kingdom facilitated the demise of the Romanov dynasty itself.
In a study that extends well beyond military history, David B. Ralston documents the ways in which five different countries—Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, China, and Japan—refashioned their armed forces along European lines during the three centuries after 1600. The appropriation of Western military institutions in countries outside of Europe was, Ralston argues, the major force driving these countries to adopt European administrative, economic, and cultural modes.
Following the same format in his discussion of each country, Ralston makes this central theme in world history easily accessible to students while offering scholars a sophisticated understanding of the exact nature of the changes brought about by Europeanizing military reforms.
David B. Ralston, associate professor of history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the author of The Army of the Republic.
Journalism has long been a major factor in defining the opinions of Russia’s literate classes. Although women participated in nearly every aspect of the journalistic process during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, female editors, publishers, and writers have been consistently omitted from the history of journalism in Imperial Russia. An Improper Profession offers a more complete and accurate picture of this history by examining the work of these under-appreciated professionals and showing how their involvement helped to formulate public opinion.
In this collection, contributors explore how early women journalists contributed to changing cultural understandings of women’s roles, as well as how class and gender politics meshed in the work of particular individuals. They also examine how female journalists adapted to—or challenged—censorship as political structures in Russia shifted. Over the course of this volume, contributors discuss the attitudes of female Russian journalists toward socialism, Russian nationalism, anti-Semitism, women’s rights, and suffrage. Covering the period from the early 1800s to 1917, this collection includes essays that draw from archival as well as published materials and that range from biography to literary and historical analysis of journalistic diaries.
By disrupting conventional ideas about journalism and gender in late Imperial Russia, An Improper Profession should be of vital interest to scholars of women’s history, journalism, and Russian history.
Contributors. Linda Harriet Edmondson, June Pachuta Farris, Jehanne M Gheith, Adele Lindenmeyr, Carolyn Marks, Barbara T. Norton, Miranda Beaven Remnek, Christine Ruane, Rochelle Ruthchild, Mary Zirin
In the twenty years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the fifteen new independent republics have embarked on unprecedented transitions from command economies into market-oriented economies.
Important motivating factors for their reform efforts included issues of geographic and economic proximity to Europe and the influence of the pre-Soviet era histories in those countries. In the Shadow of Russia builds upon the conceptual frameworks that include geography and policy choices about economic integration in an analysis of the reform efforts of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Blackmon's book addresses such central questions as: How and in what areas has a republic's previous level of integration with Soviet-era Russia influenced its present economic orientation? What are the contributing factors that explain the differences in how leaders ( of a similar regime type) developed economic reform policies? To answer these questions, the author utilizes information from both the economic and the political literature on post-communist transitions, as well from political speeches.
In 2013, the United States suffered its worst terrorist bombing since 9/11 at the annual running of the Boston Marathon. When the culprits turned out to be U.S. residents of Chechen descent, Americans were shocked and confused. Why would members of an obscure Russian minority group consider America their enemy? Inferno in Chechnya is the first book to answer this riddle by tracing the roots of the Boston attack to the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia. Brian Glyn Williams describes the tragic history of the bombers’ war-devastated homeland—including tsarist conquest and two bloody wars with post-Soviet Russia that would lead to the rise of Vladimir Putin—showing how the conflict there influenced the rise of Europe’s deadliest homegrown terrorist network. He provides a historical account of the Chechens’ terror campaign in Russia, documents their growing links to Al Qaeda and radical Islam, and describes the plight of the Chechen diaspora that ultimately sent two Chechens to Boston. Inferno in Chechnya delivers a fascinating and deeply tragic story that has much to say about the historical and ethnic roots of modern terrorism.
The Institutions of Russian Modernism illuminates the key role of Symbolism as the earliest form of modernism in Russia, emerging seemingly ex nihilo at the end of the nineteenth century. Combining book history, periodical studies, and reception theory, Jonathan Stone examines the poetry and theory of Russian Symbolism within the framework of the institutions that organized, published, and disseminated the works to Russian readers. Surveying a wealth of examples of books, journals, and almanacs, Stone traces how publishers of Symbolist works marketed the movement and fashioned a Symbolist reader. His persuasive argument that after its eclipse Symbolism's legacy remained embedded in the heart of Russian modernism will be of interest to scholars and general readers.
Ivan the Terrible is infamous as a sadistic despot responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people, particularly during the years of the oprichnina, his state-within-a-state. Ivan was the first ruler in Russian history to use mass terror as a political instrument. However, Ivan’s actions cannot be dismissed by attributing the behavior to insanity. Ivan interacted with Muscovite society as both he and Muscovy changed. This interaction needs to be understood in order properly to analyze his motives, achievements, and failures. Ivan the Terrible: Free to Reward and Free to Punish provides an up-to-date comprehensive analysis of all aspects of Ivan’s reign. It presents a new interpretation not only of Ivan’s behavior and ideology, but also of Muscovite social and economic history. Charles Halperin shatters the myths surrounding Ivan and reveals a complex ruler who had much in common with his European contemporaries, including Henry the Eighth.