Istoria slavianovedenia v Rossii v XIX veke

TitleIstoria slavianovedenia v Rossii v XIX veke
Publication TypePublication review
AuthorsMcArthur, Sarah
Author(s) of reviewed materialLapteva, Ludmila Pavlovna
Title in EnglishThe History of Slavic Studies in 19th Century Russia


PublisherMoscow: Indrik
ISBN Number5857593352
Review year


Full Text

The History of Slavic Studies in 19th Century Russia represents the first major monograph in Russian that analyses the development and evolution of the field of Slavic Studies in the Russian Empire. In this work, Lapteva has chosen to build on her 1997 book Slavic Studies at Moscow University by expanding her area of study to the entire territory of the Russian Empire. The new work also does more than its predecessor to examine how Slavic Studies as a subject area came to be studied in Russia. Tracing the development of the field from its late 18th century Western origins, Lapteva argues that Slavic Studies in Russia initially built its base on the already existing knowledge available in Western European universities, in particular those of Germany. She then examines the efforts of Russian scholars to improve their knowledge of the South and West Slavs through study abroad and travel to the relevant regions for further study. This growing interest resulted in the introduction of non- Russian Slavic literature and history courses at Moscow University in the early 19th century. By the middle of the century, Slavic Studies had gained in popularity and was being actively studied not only in Moscow, but at the universities of St. Petersburg, Kharkov and Kazan as well. Lapteva argues that the development of the field occurred predominantly within the frames of the university system, and pays great attention to the individual professors, such as Mihail Pogodin, whose pioneering efforts made this possible. These professors are depicted in light of their cultural and educational backgrounds, and Lapteva provides us with substantial biographical information, as well as listing the contributions such figures made to the field. By the end of the century, she argues, Russia had several centres where Slavic History, Linguistics, Culture, and Anthropology were actively debated and studied by world-class specialists.

The 850-page book represents a detailed history of a large subject and is thorough in its presentation of information. It is painstakingly researched; drawing on both secondary and unpublished primary sources, and contains detailed footnotes and an index, although inconveniently there is no bibliography. The text is dense and the work’s encyclopaedic nature makes it of limited interest to non-specialists. However, it represents a significant contribution to both Russian and Slavic Studies and is an invaluable tool for specialists interested in either the development of Slavic Studies in Russia, or in the evolution of that country’s university education.