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Cultivating the Reader in Late Nineteenth-Century Russia (with Brian Kim and Discussant Anne Lounsbery)
July 7, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Join us for another 19v seminar!
The rapid growth of literacy in the Russian Empire of the second half of the nineteenth century gave rise to attendant debates concerning the roles that reading could play in the moral and intellectual development of the individual. In this talk, Professor Kim examines how such figures as Leo Tolstoy, Vissarion Belinsky, and Nikolai Rubakin approached the task of guiding new readers to worthy texts that would maximize their potential for self-improvement, and by extension, the improvement of society as a whole. Their concerns encompassed not just the available kinds of reading material for newly literate populations, but also the preparation, motivations, and psychology of the reader, leading to a focus on the cultivation of the reader and on what responsibilities lay with authors, critics, and pedagogues to help shape the discourse and practices surrounding reading. However, these thinkers conceived differently of the rights of individuals to make their own choices in this regard. This talk also explores the various ways in which they navigated the ethical question of whether and how to direct the reading activities of others.
Watch the event recording on YouTube here.