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Cover for the book How St. Petersburg Learned to Study Itself

How St. Petersburg Learned to Study Itself

The Russian Idea of Kraevedenie Emily D. Johnson
  • Copyright: 2006
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 320 pages
  • Illustrations: 7 b&w illustrations
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-02872-9
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-05865-8
  • Co-publisher: the Harriman Institute

Winner of the 2007 South Central MLA Book Prize Winner of the 2007 Nikolai Antsiferov Prize for Best Contribution to the Study of St. Petersburg by a foreign author

“Johnson’s book provides a fascinating view of the cultural movements that developed in the early part of the twentieth century in St. Petersburg. As such, it is an important contribution to the growing number of recent works on the city.”
“Emily Johnson’s book is cogently written and very well researched; it deserves a wide readership not only in Russian studies but in comparative European studies as well. Her broad intellectual curiosity, focused through the lens of St. Petersburg’s cultural history, is both impressive and exemplary. This interdisciplinary study will have a wide resonance among those interested in local history, literary and cultural studies, and the history of nontraditional education.”
“Johnson's scholarship is meticulous, and, in emphasizing the literary foundations of kraevedenie, her monograph will appeal to scholars of Russian literature and culture, as well as those interested in the complex and tortuous evolution of Russian civil society.”

In the bookshops of present-day St. Petersburg, guidebooks abound. Both modern descriptions of Russia’s old imperial capital and lavish new editions of pre-Revolutionary texts sell well, primarily attracting an audience of local residents. Why do Russians read one- and two-hundred-year-old guidebooks to a city they already know well? In How St. Petersburg Learned to Study Itself, Emily Johnson traces the Russian fascination with local guides to the idea of kraevedenie.

Kraevedenie (local studies) is a disciplinary tradition that in Russia dates back to the early twentieth century. Practitioners of kraevedenie investigate local areas, study the ways human society and the environment affect each other, and decipher the semiotics of space. They deconstruct urban myths, analyze the conventions governing the depiction of specific regions and towns in works of art and literature, and dissect both outsider and insider perceptions of local population groups. Practitioners of kraevedenie helped develop and popularize the Russian guidebook as a literary form.

Johnson traces the history of kraevedenie, showing how St. Petersburg–based scholars and institutions have played a central role in the evolution of the discipline. Distinguished from obvious Western equivalents such as cultural geography and the German Heimatkunde by both its dramatic history and unique social significance, kraevedenie has, for close to a hundred years, served as a key forum for expressing concepts of regional and national identity within Russian culture.

How St. Petersburg Learned to Study Itself is published in collaboration with the Harriman Institute at Columbia University as part of its Studies of the Harriman Institute series.

Emily Johnson is Assistant Professor of Russian Language, Literature, and Culture at the University of Oklahoma.


List of Illustrations

Preface and Acknowledgments

A Note on Transliteration and Translations

List of Abbreviations

Introduction Ways of Knowing: Russian Local Studies as an Identity Discipline

1. The Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Tradition

2. The Art Journals of the Silver Age, St. Petersburg Preservationism, and the Guidebook

3. Old Petersburg After the Revolution

4. The Excursion Movement and Excursion Methodology

5. Excursion Primers and Literary Tours

6. Kraevedenie in St. Petersburg

7. Literary Kraevedenie



Selected Bibliography


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