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The Publication of Peter Chaadaev’s First Philosophical Letter: A Microhistory (With Mikhail Velizhev and discussant Nathaniel Knight)

Join us for another 19v Seminar!

For Russian intellectual history, the “Philosophical Letters” of Peter Chaadaev and the figure of the author himself are of paramount significance. Officially declared insane for his ideas, Chaadaev enjoys a reputation of being one of the most famous Russian philosophers, whether as one of the main Westernizers with his critical view of Russia’s past, present and future, and/or a prophet of Slavophilism with his belief in the coming greatness of Russian nation. But what if we look at Chaadaev differently and reject the stereotypes that have been formed around the author of the “Philosophical Letters”? Investigating the historical circumstances regarding the scandalous publication of the first article of the cycle in 1836, Velizhev proposes to reconstruct the different microcontexts of this case. He also use the legal proceedings against both the author and the publisher of this “Philosophical Letter” as a prism through which one can discern the logic of more global phenomena: the formation of a political system and mechanisms for making significant governmental decisions in the Russian Empire, the formation of practices of law, the crystallization of the structure of the public sphere, and the emergence of new forms of polemics about politics, power and history.

This talk will be hosted as a Zoom Meeting

Speaker: Mikhail Velizhev

Discussant / Sobesednik: Nathaniel Knight

The talk will be given in Russian.

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