Preserving Petersburg

Preserving Petersburg

History, Memory, Nostalgia
Edited by Helena Goscilo and Stephen M. Norris
Distribution: World
Publication date: 5/22/2008
Format: paper 264 pages, 45 b&w photos
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-21980-0
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For more than three centuries, St. Petersburg, founded in 1703 by Peter the Great as Russia's westward-oriented capital and as a visually stunning showcase of Russia's imperial ambitions, has been the country's most mythologized city. Like a museum piece, it has functioned as a site for preservation, a literal and imaginative place where Russians can commune with idealized pasts. Preserving Petersburg represents a significant departure from traditional representations. By moving beyond the "Petersburg text" created by canonized writers and artists, the contributors to this engrossing volume trace the ways in which St. Petersburg has become a "museum piece," embodying history, nostalgia, and recourse to memories of the past. The essays in this attractively illustrated volume trace a process of preservation that stretches back nearly three centuries, as manifest in the works of noted historians, poets, novelists, artists, architects, filmmakers, and dramatists.

Author Bio

Helena Goscilo is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh. Her many books include Russia Women Culture, edited with Beth Holmgren (IUP, 1996), and Anastasia Verbitskaia's Keys to Happiness, translated and edited with Beth Holmgren (IUP, 1999).

Stephen M. Norris is Associate Professor of History at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. He is author of
A War of Images: Russian Popular Prints, Wartime Culture, and National Identity, 1812–1945 and editor (with Zara Torlone) of Insiders and Outsiders in Russian Cinema (IUP, 2008).


"An interesting and important contribution to existing scholarship on St. Petersburg's myth, cult, and text. —Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy, Barnard College A truly innovative contribution to the scholarship on Petersburg . . . The volume should be read by all serious Slavic scholars." —Emily Johnson, University of Oklahoma

"[A]n interesting and important contribution to existing scholarship on St. Petersburg's myth, cult, and text. . . . this volume is distinctive." —Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy

"A truly innovative contribution to the scholarship on Petersburg . . . The volume should be read by all serious Slavic scholars." —Emily Johnson, University of Oklahoma

"This collection brings together history, literature, architecture, and the politics of memory. . . . The book includes a number of excellent images (both photographs of the city and images of art works showing different aspects of Petersburg life). Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty." —
Choice , February 2009

". . .will certainly introduce . . . students, to the more conventional delights of a city . . . which is better-known for inhabiting the tropes of 'museum city' and 'theater set'. . . ." —Catriona Kelly, New College, Oxford,
The Russian Review , Vol. 68.3 July 2009

". . . the essays underscore the fact that for many Russians,
Piter is a nostalgia museum, a sacred place. Preserving Petersburg will appeal . . . to scholars who are interested in the arts and those who are . . . familiar with the city’s history and monuments." —Michael Hamm, Centre College, H-Urban , Sept. 2009

". . . the collection truly sparkles as the contributors each in turn take up this snuff box of a city . . . and breathe movement and life into the idealized Petersburg museum." —
Slavic Review

"This book is an important addition to scholarship on Imperial Russia's prized capital city. . . . Though St. Petersburg has consistently defied theorisation throughout its history, Goscilo and Norris' innovative anthology provides Slavic scholars with a panoramic view of the city's literary, pictorial and social manifestations." —Europe-Asia Studies

"[A]n excellent collection of essays ... [T]he variety of subjects and methodologies gathered together here will certainly satisfy anyone interested in the study of the former imperial capital." —Journal of Modern History

"This collection of essays about St. Petersburg is a fine contribution to memory studies, urban history, and public history. . . . Everyone looking for a stimulating encounter with St. Petersburg will find it here." —European History Quarterly

"As the various chapters of this fine volume make clear, seeing past the myth to the reality of the city's past and present remains as much of a challenge in the age of Putin as it was under Peter the Great and Nicholas I." —Slavonic & East European Review

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Preserving Petersburg / Helena Goscilo and Stephen M. Norris

1. St. Petersburg and the Art of Survival / William Craft Brumfield
2. The City's Memory: Texts of Preservation and Loss in Imperial St. Petersburg / Julie Buckler
3. Unsaintly St. Petersburg? Visions and Visuals / Helena Goscilo
4. A Tale of Two Cities: Ancient Rome and St. Petersburg in Mandelstam's Poetry / Zara Torlone
5. Petersburg in the Poetry of the Russian Emigration / Vladimir Khazan
6. Multiethnic St. Petersburg: The Late Imperial Period / Steven Duke
7. Leningrad Culture under Siege (1941—1944) / Cynthia Simmons
8. Cultural Capital and Cultural Heritage: St. Petersburg and the Arts of Imperial Russia / Richard Stites
9. Strolls Through Postmodern Petersburg: Celebrating the City in 2003 / Stephen M. Norris

List of Contributors