How St. Petersburg Learned to Study Itself: The Russian Idea by Emily D. Johnson

By Emily D. Johnson

Within the bookshops of present-day St. Petersburg, guidebooks abound. either sleek descriptions of Russia's previous imperial capital and indulgent new versions of pre-Revolutionary texts promote good, essentially attracting an viewers of neighborhood citizens. Why do Russians learn one- and two-hundred-year-old guidebooks to a urban they already be aware of good? In How St. Petersburg discovered to review Itself, Emily Johnson strains the Russian fascination with neighborhood courses to the assumption of kraevedenie. Kraevedenie (local reviews) is a disciplinary culture that during Russia dates again to the early 20th century. Practitioners of kraevedenie examine neighborhood components, research the methods human society and the surroundings impact one another, and decipher the semiotics of area. They deconstruct city myths, examine the conventions governing the depiction of particular areas and cities in artworks and literature, and dissect either outsider and insider perceptions of neighborhood inhabitants teams. Practitioners of kraevedenie helped advance and popularize the Russian guidebook as a literary shape. Johnson strains the background of kraevedenie, exhibiting how St. . Petersburg-based students and associations have performed a primary position within the evolution of the self-discipline. extraordinary from noticeable Western equivalents corresponding to cultural geography and the German Heimatkunde via either its dramatic background and specified social importance, kraevedenie has, for as regards to 100 years, served as a key discussion board for expressing thoughts of local and nationwide identification inside of Russian tradition. How St. Petersburg discovered to review Itself is released in collaboration with the Harriman Institute at Columbia college as a part of its reviews of the Harriman Institute sequence.

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Extra info for How St. Petersburg Learned to Study Itself: The Russian Idea of Kraevedenie (Studies of the Harriman Institute)

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Moreover, although they may contain basic historical facts (when buildings were constructed, the names and nationalities of leading architects, the significance of various monuments), they are often not organized to allow readers to locate the answers to specific questions quickly. In many works termed putevoditeli today, the notion that the book itself represents an immediately useful portable tool, a kind of verbal compass that can lead the reader through physical space, holds true only on the level of metaphor.

Like Bogdanov’s earlier work, it served in part as a record of the accomplishments of the Romanov tsars. Although somewhat less florid in his praise of the ruling dynasty than his predecessor, Georgi does continually acknowledge the role that various rulers, particularly Peter I and Catherine II, played in the growth of the city. Each time he mentions a charitable institution or an improvement in local services, he is careful to note Her Majesty’s involvement in the project and to detail any specific contributions she may have made.

41 The comparisons between the Russian imperial capital and foreign cities that fill eighteenth-century verse are invariably positive in tone: writers consistently describe St. Petersburg as equaling or surpassing potential rivals; as in early topographic descriptions of the northern city, the fact that such how st. petersburg learned to study itself 28 comparisons can be posited in no way undermines the imperial capital’s capacity to serve as the focus of Russia’s historical aspirations. Poetic paeans to St.

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