Head of the project: Alexander L. Ospovat, Head of the Laboratory of the Cross Cultural History of Literature at the Centre for Basic Research; Professor of the Faculty of Philology, Head of the Philology Program (Literary Studies).
The project was implemented within the framework of the HSE Basic research program.
1. Research object: The research project is focused on commentary as the oldest and most important practice in philology – and even wider, in the humanities, its history in the modern time and modern day.
2. Research purpose: The purpose of the pilot project is to problematize the commentary as a specific mechanism of development in culture, to reveal the key periods in the history of commentary in Europe and Russia and to devise new, original commentaries to different works of Russian literature designed as case studies as well as exemplary commentaries of different kinds to works of Russian and foreign literature.
3. Empirical base of the research: The empirical base of the research is comprised by the original editions of the Russian and European classical authors and commentaries written in Modern and Contemporary Europe.
a. The pilot stage of research resulted in defining the conditions and principles of studying commentary as an essential interface of intercultural translation. The pilot case study – an article by Sergey L. Kozlov focusing on the educational practices of the 16th century Jesuit colleges – introduces a detailed study of an episode in European cultural history when the problem of commenting became the centre of a cultural conflict.
b. Another important outcome of the project is the outline for a collection of articles on commentary compiled of the most significant works by foreign authors (to be translated as part of the future stage of the project) and the participants of the project. Abstracts for all the articles along with the translation of the article by Anthony Grafton carried out by the student-participants under supervision are to be found in the Appendix.
c. In the course of the project we prepared overviews of the main European commentary practices and traditions – French, German, and British, – which revealed the influence of the intellectual culture of a specific country on the development of commentary practices, selection of texts for commenting and the genres commentators choose.
d. And finally, the study of Russian tradition and practice of commentary, the main focus of the practical part of the research, produced a classification and periodisation of different practices in commenting of the 19-20th centuries as well as a number of case studies – separate articles, exploiting the main practices analysed in the project: detailed work with historical and literary context and exhaustive references to a vast corpus of texts of the time, bringing to the foreground meanings or sources previously unknown.
5. Implementation of the research results: Results of the research have been incorporated into such courses taught by the participants in Higher School of Economics as Introduction to Literary Studies, Theory of Literature, and Rules of Reading: Understanding and Interpretation of Literary Texts. Methodological guidelines worked out in the course of the project as well as the commentaries devised can be used in the editorial practice in the new academic editions of literary works of different epochs and genres, both in the traditional paper-based and new digital book format.