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In: Russian History

Abstract

The article explores the kinds of institutions and networks that promoted a reading economy in periodicals in Moscow and Petersburg in the first third of the nineteenth century. The article examines why Petersburg experienced a dramatic growth in periodical publishing during this time period, and what factors constrained Moscow’s periodical publishing market. Looking at official institutions, public social venues, and individual journalists like Nikolai Grech, Faddei Bulgarin, and Osip Senkovskii, the article argues that institutional support and a thickening of public and private networks enabled the rise of a commercial and professional press in the 1820s. To bring the rise of Petersburg journalism into sharper relief, the article also examines the early career of Nikolai Polevoi and the circumstances constraining Moscow publishing in the first third of the nineteenth century. The article draws on recent scholarship examining the press as an “infrastructure” or “network” itself, as well as on theories of the press as part of a “network of means” regulating information and communication.

In: Russian History
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Abstract

In the course of the nineteenth century, Russia’s press culture underwent a dramatic cultural, technological, and political transformation. However, the question of professionalization of the press during the same period remains relatively underexplored. This article examines the extent and the limitations of editorial professionalization in nineteenth-century Russia by focusing on an emergent generation of private newspaper editors such as M.N. Katkov, A.A. Kraevskii, I.S. Aksakov, and A.S. Suvorin during the 1860s and 1870s. The article explores the emergence of a private opinion press during the 1860s with substantial autonomy in the commercial management of their newspapers, but a censorship-restricted autonomy in the management of their content. It then examines the elements of an emerging professional ethos and solidarity in the editorial profession. Drawing on a wealth of correspondence, editorials, and diaries, this work reveals the delicate world of personal relationships which allowed editors to balance both the strictures of political censorship and the account books of their commercial enterprises. This paper argues that a limited professional autonomy and considerable competition among influential editors – i.e press lords – constrained the professionalization of the journalism in pre-Revolutionary Russia.

In: Russian History

Abstract

Many historians have questioned the accuracy of the “Tale of Ivan IV’s Campaign against Novgorod in 1570.” Cornelia Soldat now expands that critical approach to the “Tale” by arguing that it derives from German pamphlets published a century earlier. She relies upon the congruence of macro- and micro-structures to demonstrate textual influence without textual borrowing. Given the absence of Muscovite manuscripts of the “Tale” between 1570 and the second half of the seventeenth century, the composers of the “Tale” “must have” relied upon foreign sources about the raid, because no domestic sources existed. Her analysis is certainly possible, but it elides a number of issues about the transmission and translation into Russian of the German pamphlets. Reliable contemporary Muscovite sources tells us more about the “real” raid than Soldat allows. It is equally possible that the “Tale” derives from circulating native oral legends. However, the methodological and evidentiary issues Soldat raises are serious and deserve further discussion.

In: Russian History

Abstract

This forum examines the professionalization of journalism in Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union using recent revisionist approaches in press history. Four essays, ranging chronologically from the 1820s through the 1960s, use case studies of both commercial and state-owned periodicals to explore the rise of the press as a source of information and opinion in Russia. Yelizaveta Raykhlina’s article examines the institutions and networks, both formal and informal, that promoted the earliest professional and commercial periodicals in the first third of the nineteenth century. Ala Graff’s article analyzes the professionalization of the press during the 1860s–1880s, exploring how newspaper editors navigated the space between limited editorial autonomy and the growing technical complexity of the newspaper publishing business. Felix Cowan’s article examines the professionalization of the penny press in late Imperial Russia, focusing on how editors and journalists viewed their work as a vehicle for social mobility as well as a public service for the poor and marginalized. Ekaterina Kamenskaya’s article analyzes the newspaper Sel’skaia zhizn’ (Rural Life) and the role of its foreign correspondent network in both carving out space for professional autonomy as well as in bringing a unique narrative of the world to a rural Soviet audience in the 1960s.

In: Russian History
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Abstract

Through case studies of five prominent journalists, editors, and publishers, this article explores journalism at late imperial Russia’s kopeck newspapers. Exploring the lives and careers of journalists from wide-ranging backgrounds who shared a view of their work as both a business and a form of service to poor Russians, this article argues that kopeck journalists thought their profession combined entrepreneurship and upward mobility with activism and civic responsibility. The life stories and views of kopeck journalists reveal that civil society was not limited to small groups of educated middle-class Russians but rather included a wide range of actors and initiatives. Viewing these figures as members of late imperial Russian civil society also demonstrates that civil society activity could coexist with business concerns and operate within Russia’s emerging free market, despite the critiques of contemporary observers who saw commercial and social goals as inherently contradictory.

In: Russian History

Abstract

Historiography of the study of Ivan the Terrible’s times contains many examples of demystification attempts: E. Keenan declared the correspondence between Ivan the Terrible and Andrey Kurbsky to be apocrypha, Anthony Grobovsky exposed the ‘Chosen Rada’, Mikhail Krom unmasked the time of ‘boyar rule’. Cornelia Soldat suggests revising the history of the ‘massacre of Novgorod’ in 1570. She believes it to be a product of a ‘literary game’. The story of the destruction of Novgorod first appeared in the German Flying Leaf in 1570 and Alexander Guagnini’s Chronicle in 1578. It was a product of European political discourse. The Novgorod Chronicles borrowed that story from Guagnini’s Chronicle in the late 17th century. However, this hypothesis lacks sufficient proof. Independent evidence exists: The Solovetsky Chronicle of the 16th century. According to Soldat, the reports from The Novgorod Uvarov Chronicle date back to the late 16t–early 17th (about 1606) centuries, rather than to the 17th century. The main argument against her concept is the confirmation in independent sources and documents of the death of many people, while the circumstances of the repression or death point to Novgorod and 1570. The Novgorod chronicles contain no evidence of text borrowings from German or Polish sources. There is no proven textual similarity between them. The story of the ‘massacre of Novgorod’ evolved in the Novgorod’s urban legends. This would have been hardly possible, if this story had been of a purely bookish, literary origin. Therefore, Cornelia Soldat’s attempt to demystify the history of the ‘massacre of Novgorod’ in 1570 cannot be considered convincing.

In: Russian History
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Abstract

Muscovite chronicle material is very disparate about Ivan the Terrible’s Raid of Novgorod in 1570. Novgorod and Pskov Chronicles show Ivan’s brutal behavior in detail. In this article I argue that in the second half of the 17th century many chronicles were reworked in order to support an open discussion about dissatisfaction with the tsarist government in Novgorod and Pskov. Chronicle writing was used to disseminate the image of the terrible tsar Ivan. This image functioned as an allegory for the tsars of the end of the 17th century who were under pressure from a wider public that criticized autocracy. In this way, I am writing a nonlinear history of late Muscovy in which a historical figure like Ivan figured as a distorted allegorical image of a tyrannical tsar destroying the ancient régime. This history is non-linear in the sense that it puts some of the sources claiming to be from the reign of Ivan the Terrible (1530–1584) into the context in which they were used in later times. The history is linear in the sense that it begins with the oldest and ends with the youngest sources. In this way the story of history writing can be grasped in a historical-linear way, repeating a story and subtly modifying it according to the demands of the day of the writing of the later sources and so on.

In: Russian History
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Abstract

This response clarifies certain aspects of the article. The first aspect is the application of Jan Assmann’s Cultural Memory Theory in the analysis of the text of the “Tale of Ivan the Terrible’s Novgorod Expedition.” A Second is that Alexander Guagnini’s Sarmatiae Europeae descriptio has been used as a reference text, because of its distribution in print in various languages from 1578 on. Also, it is noted that the “Tale” was never part of the original Novgorod Third chronicle svod (compilation) as it was published under the name of “Novgorod chronicles,” but that it was glued onto an older manuscript only in the middle of the 18th century. The somewhat earlier, but not contemporary Novgorod chronicles used German pamphlets, especially Taube und Kruse, as a source. As the text appeared relatively late, as do other mentions of the Novgorod Raid in 17th century Russian chronicles, it seems likely that they were used at this time to comment on and criticize the reign of Aleksei Mikhailovich as tyranny rather than to describe historical events.

In: Russian History

Abstract

The expansion of foreign correspondent networks in the late Soviet period reflected the importance that international news and reporting had for readers of the Soviet press. This article traces the development of one such foreign correspondent network, that of the Soviet newspaper Sel’skaia zhizn’ (Rural Life), one of the most popular and widespread newspapers in the Soviet Union. Although historiographically overlooked in favor of major political newspapers like Pravda (Truth) and Izvestiia (News), Sel’skaia zhizn’ was an important source of foreign news for the rural population of the Soviet Union. The article examines the role of the editorial office of Sel’skaia zhizn’ in creating a correspondent network, tracing the geographical reach of the newspaper’s correspondents (sobkors) and analyzing their activities and different types of publications. While some materials were similar to those published in other Soviet newspapers, the specifically rural audience of Sel’skaia zhizn’ influenced the topics chosen for articles as well as the style of the authors. The newspaper became a practical guide for readers because foreign correspondents provided them with unique information about the development of agriculture abroad. The article provides research into how readers perceived international news and information in Sel’skaia zhizn’, finding that readers expected the newspaper to fulfill their needs and to reflect their own interests, even in the international section.

In: Russian History