Multivalent Russian Medievalism: Old Russia Through New Eyes

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Multivalent Russian Medievalism: Old Russia Through New Eyes

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Title: Multivalent Russian Medievalism: Old Russia Through New Eyes
Author: Rose, Katherine Mae
Citation: Rose, Katherine Mae. 2016. Multivalent Russian Medievalism: Old Russia Through New Eyes. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
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Abstract: This thesis explores representations of medieval Russia in cultural and artistic works of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with an eye to the shifting perceptions of Russia’s cultural heritage demonstrated through these works. The thesis explores the history of medievalism as a field of study and interrogates the reasons that medievalism as a paradigm has not been applied to the field of Russian studies to date. The first chapter is an investigation of architectural monuments incorporating Old Russian motifs, following the trajectory of the “Russian Style” in church architecture, one of the most prominent and best-remembered forms of Russian medievalism. Chapter two explores the visual representation of medieval Russian warriors, bogatyri, in visual and plastic arts, and the ways in which this figure is involved in the national mythmaking project of the nineteenth century. The third chapter focuses on the Rimsky-Korsakov opera, The Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya, investigating the ways that different medieval and modern elements come together in this work to present an aestheticized image of medieval Russia. In this analysis of diverse and far-ranging facets of Russian medievalism in the plastic, visual, literary and performing arts, the complicated relationship between medievalism and the prevalent discourse of nationalism is investigated, opening up new opportunities for scholarly intersections with other medievalisms – in Western Europe and beyond.
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