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«Культура Духа» vs «Культура Разума»: Интеллектуалы и Власть в Британии и России в эпоху Перемен (XVII–XVIII вв.)

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"Culture of the Spirit" vs "Culture of the Reason": Intellectuals and Power in Britain and Russia in the Transition Era (XVII-XVIII centuries)

It is currently recognized that social and economic change of the Modernity proved to be disconnected from the impulses of spiritual development on the background of the general secularization of the Western consciousness. Modernization has brought functional laws of economics and state, as well as science and technology, in action; in the 20th century these laws have melted into a single system of “supervision and punishment”, totalitarian towards individual human being. “Transition Era" was the time for a decisive break between the "ancient" and the “modern” -  the time of loss, according to G.W.F.Hegel, "by the spirit of its own self”. The intellectuals began to voice this dramatic gap between spirit and mind, they became the "designers" of the modern cultural/national/Imperial identity that makes us come back to their heritage in search of alternatives for the "unfinished project of Modernity". Studying mental mapping and cognitive-rhetorical practices and mechanisms of impact of the intellectuals on power and society in Britain and Russia in the 17th-18th centuries will allow to focus both on the spiritual component of the Russian intellectual culture and to overcome the dominant absolutization of British political and legal models. Comparative historical approach will help identify the peculiarities of formation of civil society in Britain and Russia in "Transition Era” from the “Age of Spirit” to the “Age of Reason”.

This project aims at addressing a pressing objective for modern Russian society: to identify the mechanisms for the formation of the civil position among various groups of intellectuals, and the emergence of approval strategies for complex ideas in society, as well as their influence on adoption of power solutions. To achieve this objective, project participants are planning, for the first time in world historiography, to conduct a comparative historical study of the formation of cultural/national/Imperial identity in Britain and Russia in the era of the systemic crisis of the 17th-18th centuries on the basis of a wide range of sources both from Russian and British archives.


Research Plan:


·       Study of the practices of intellectuals in Britain and Russia in the XVII – XVIII centuries in the context of the formation of national and imperial identities.

·       Comparative analysis of the role and place of intellectuals in the formation of national and Imperial identities in Britain and Russia of the 17th and the 18th centuries.

·       Systematic analysis of Russian and English-language literature, describing various aspects of the conceptualization of “Britishness” and “Russianness” in a situation of spiritual crisis in the “Transition Era”; we also plan bringing heterogeneous historiographic material to a common denominator.

·       As early as in autumn 2019 we expect to hold a seminar, inviting the leading experts on the central theme of the project with subsequent publication of the seminar proceedings in the following edition of the Almanac of World History of the 16th-20th centuries, “Imagines Mundi”, “Intellectual history” Series (2020).

·       Three original sources will be prepared for the publication: “Statir” (partially, 2 printer’s sheets); “Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe” by D. Defoe (partially, 3 printer’s sheets); “Opyt povestvovaniya o Rossii” [“Exercise in Russian History”] by I.P. Elagin (partially, totaling 3 printer’s sheets).

·       Preparation and publication of articles on the project’s topic.

·       Participation of the research team in current conferences and seminars on the subject of the project.


The research supervision of the project is being conducted by Dr. Lorina REPINA - Head of the Russian Society for Intellectual History, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The grant applicant is the Ural Federal University. A scientific team was established on the basis of the Ural Institute of Humanities of Ural Federal University, consisting of specialists in the history and culture of Russia and Britain of the XVII - XVIII centuries: Editor-in-Chief of the journal “Quaestio Rossica” L.S. Soboleva (the chair of Russian and Foreign literature), Head of the Ural branch of the Russian Society for Intellectual History V.V. Vysokova (Chair of Modern and Contemporary History), K.A. Sozinova (Chair of Foreign Regional Studies), T.A. Kosykh (Chair of Oriental Studies) and beginning researchers – T.S. Sidorkina (graduate student of the Chair of Modern and Contemporary History) and A.V. Nesterova (undergraduate student of the Chair of Russian and Foreign literature).

The project's chief administrator is Dr. Veronika Vysokova (Ural Federal University).

Current information

An international seminar “Intellectuals and Power in Britain and Russia in the Transition Era (XVII-XVIII centuries)” is planned to be held on the basis of the Ural Federal University in September 2019. Issues for discussion: TEXT in CONTEXT: new and traditional sources in the Transition Era, social and political discussions of the XVII-XVIII centuries, intellectuals who changed the course of history, etc.