Public Speaking and Political Culture in the Late Tsarist Era
- Date: –17:00
- Location: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES) Gamla torget 3, 3rd floor, IRES Library
- Organiser: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES)
- Contact person: Jevgenija Gehsbarga
Thanks to Jeffrey Brooks, we already think of the late imperial era as the time when 'Russia learned to read'. But there is also an important story to be told about the spoken word. In the 1860s, the age of Alexander II's glasnost', the Russian Empire acquired new institutions where public speaking played a crucial role: the municipal duma, the zemstvo, the reformed courtroom. Meanwhile, the Orthodox Church, traditionally the main channel of communication to the peasantry, sought to improve the quality of its preaching. Although the authorities placed significant constraints on the new public sphere, it continued to operate – even in the era of counter-reform after 1881. Public speech then gained vast new possibilities with the political mobilization of the early twentieth century, which culminated in the creation of an imperial parliament, the State Duma. Although the Duma's status was contested and its legislative achievements are often considered modest, it was a remarkable rhetorical experiment – and one with profound repercussions for the ensuing revolutionary period.
Stephen Lovell is Professor of Modern History at King's College London. His books include Summerfolk: A History of the Dacha, 1710-2000 (2003), The Soviet Union: A Very Short Introduction (2009), The Shadow of War: Russia and the Soviet Union, 1941 to the Present (2010) and Russia in the Microphone Age: A History of Soviet Radio, 1919-1970 (2015).