International Seminar on the Humanities in Russia at HSE Perm
Academics from all over the world will meet on August 25th - 27th at the HSE campus in Perm for an international research seminar The Humanities in Russia and the Break of 1917: the Existential Dimension.30 researchers from Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, the USA, Uzbekistan and Ukraine will be taking part.
The seminar is organised by the Group for Historical Research at HSE Perm. The event follows on from the seminar in August 2014 on The Human Dimension of Time.This year, the seminar will focus on the self-determination of humans in crucial situations in history. The aim of the seminar The Humanities in Russia and the Break of 1917: the Existential Dimensionis to develop a methodology to analyse the academic community’s response to the collapse in history’s evolutionary development.
The situation which developed in the first quarter of the XX century in Russia is particularly apt for studying the existential gesture: The first important collapses in academic traditions happened in 1914 and 1917. At that time, the existential gesture of a person was determined by the necessity to reinvent his/her role in history according to the circumstances. The variations of such realisations of the existential gesture are revealed sharply in the context of choices academics made about their lives. For those in the humanities, it was a question of survival. A researcher’s methodology could carry them as easily to professional heights as cast them into (at best) social isolation.
A closer look at the fates of Russian professors (and more widely, university people) at home and abroad shows convincingly that there was a particular intellectual position. A firm belief in the importance of critical thinking and historical competence in building a political identity creates a specific existential platform. People who remained attached to it were sometimes more successful in influencing the destiny of the world than fiery revolutionaries or valiant warriors. Like L. P. Karsavin who played an important part in establishing the foundations of contemporary Lithuanian historiography, creating a Lithuanian academic language, etc.
The needs of individuals to create their own position means we can examine the life projects of Russian intellectuals as unique experiments the aims of which go far beyond the requirements of a single person. The seminar organisers want representatives of those academic traditions Russian emigrants became a part of to get involved in the research.
This issue is actually highly relevant to contemporary academics. The powerful tectonic shifts occurring in recent decades bring humanities researchers face to face with the question of their own responsibility for the state of the world. A detailed analysis of the existential gestures of those who lived through typologically similar situations will be important in both theoretical and practical terms.
The seminar will be structured around individual bibliographies. Particular attention is due to such significant figures as P. M. Bitsilli, L.P. Karsavin, V. E. Krussman, G. B. and K. V. Florovsky, A. P. Meshchersky. Separate sections of work at the seminar will be dedicated to the twists and turns in relations between academic schools in particular, of the Russian formalists. The third section of work will be on the transformation of university traditions during the turning point of 1917.
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