Beyond the Limits of the Historiography of Education in Russia, Late 17th - Early 19th Centuries

28. Januar 2017, Internationale Konferenz, DHI Moskau

Historiography sees education in Russia during the 18th – early 19th centuries as a product of the state's initiative: "In Russia, it was the emperor and the emperor alone who initiated serious educational activity" (J.L. Black, 1979, p 3). Statements like this are quite common, as studies on the history of Russian schools, including the most recent ones, generally focus on the development of government-run schools. All the other forms of education are usually either completely ignored or barely noticed, even though they played a very important role, for example, in the education of the social elite in Russian society: to give just one example, a vast majority of the members of the State Council under Alexander I did not have any formal education at all. Left unnoticed are not only private education (including studying at home with private tutors), but also other informal areas and forms of education. This historiographical perspective has also impoverished our understanding of the history of the state education system itself, as it does not allow for a comparison of the ideas and practices across different segments of the educational field, even though in reality practitioners in the field of state education were often in contact with their colleagues working outside the state-run schools. There are good reasons, therefore, to question the conventional boundaries between different forms of education and the reasons why different social groups might have preferred a particular form of education, as well as to discuss the nature of the educational initiatives that historians habitually attribute to the "emperor," or the "state". The goal of the conference is to reflect on the interrelation between various forms of education and on the reasons for the dominance of the state in the historiography of education in order to take a fresh view on the history of education in Russia during that period in general.

The topics for discussion include but are not limited to:

  • Different forms of education and different social groups; the role of historiography;
  • Hybrid forms of education;
  • Drivers of change in specific sectors of education;
  • Social identity and gender in various forms of education;
  • Sources available for the study of non-state forms of education and possibilities and limitations inherent in these sources

Conference languages: English and Russian.