This workshop takes place at the German Historical Institute in Moscow in connection with the research project “Semantics of the Social.”
The phenomenon of human society remains central for the historical sciences, but research approaches to this phenomenon have been changing fundamentally and now include the study of communities that emerged on the basis of various forms of communication (“public sphere”, “civil society”, “sociability” etc.). Language used in communication and semantic reference points determine individual identities and, at the same time, affect society as a whole. In our case, this concerns the social sphere of Imperial Russia, marked by hitherto unprecedented dynamics and by the creation of a new concept of society / obščestvo, a concept that is essentially still in use in Russia.
We invite scholars to examine these questions within the framework of historical semantics. Historical semantics unites different approaches: historical-lexical semantics, analysis of political language, conceptual history and discourse studies. The production of meaning in the past is examined both through language/text and through images, rituals and emotions. The analysis of semantic changes usually demands a comparative analysis of different historical epochs and cultural-linguistic milieus. Such analyses will be very welcome at our forthcoming workshop.
Research on the semantics of social groups in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Russia allows us to understand which concepts were central for the emergence of different notions of “we”; at which points in the past we can detect (dis)continuities; which periods – from the perspective of the development of these languages – can be considered times of radical change; and whether these periods were the same for different types of social groups.
At the seminar we intend to discuss these issues at the example of the church and the clergy in Russia. Possible questions for discussion include: Which concepts and symbols played a central role for the emergence and the functioning of the clergy and the church as a social group (e.g., chram, prichod, obščina, mir etc.) and in church-related social life (brotherhoods/sisterhoods, charitable and other societies)? Which models of collective and individual social behavior were endorsed (e.g., blagočestie, spasenie, tishina, pokoi etc.) or rejected in post-Petrine Russia? Which new meanings emerged and which meanings transformed themselves within the sphere of nonverbal semantics (church architecture, music etc.)? What were the particular characteristics of the clergy as an emerging estate (soslovie) and which of its characteristics had a more universal significance? Possible sources for analysis include documents that reflect internal communication within the church and the clergy, such as correspondence, autobiographies, administrative documents and church-related periodicals, but also sources that were addressed to an external audience (epistles, sermons, admonitions etc.).
We welcome both synthetic works and case studies. We are also open for other topics that fall within the general thematic framework of the workshop.
The workshop will be held in Moscow on 18 April 2014 in the rooms of the German Historical Institute (DHIM). The Institute will pay the travel expenses of conference participants and provide accommodation. Please contact us with any lecture proposals you may have by 31 November 2013.
Proposals should include the following information: Name, address, institutional allegiance and professional position, proposed topic and a brief précis of its contents (up to 300 words).
Papers should be max. 15,000 words in length, to be submitted by 1 March 2014 to be circulated in advance to participants.
The presentation at the workshop is restricted to 20 minutes. We will provide you with the information you need about conference languages and translating facilities in good time.