198099 Saint Petersburg
17 Promyshlennaya Ulitsa, Room 107
190008 Saint Petersburg
16 Soyuza Pechatnikov Ulitsa
The Department of History was created in 2012. The overarching goal of the department is systematic development of the field of global, comparative, and transnational history as a potent tool of overcoming the limitations of national history canon, fostering interdisciplinary dialogue in the field of social sciences and humanities, and brining new public relevance to historical knowledge. The department mission includes the development of new type of historical undergraduate and graduate education in Russia and pioneering new research fields in Russian historiography in dialogue with the global historical profession.
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The session explored current trends and developments in cultural history.
As one of the founders of cultural history, Dr. Stearns is uniquely positioned to give precisely such a broad overview of its inception, separation from social history, and main features, as he did at the beginning of the meeting.
On the one hand, by addressing aspects ignored by social history, such as values and beliefs, the cultural turn made our understanding of seemingly familiar phenomena deeper and more wholesome. Moreover, it expanded the domain of historical research with such subfields as history of the senses and emotions that change our understanding of the past in profound ways. With the help of history of emotions the scholar can historicize the emotion that is now taken for granted, such as shame, and explore the historicity of its appearance, articulation, and changes to its semantics.
But the cultural turn has not been without its drawbacks. One such problem, in Dr. Stearns’ view is excessive emphasis on semantic interpretation that moves the scholar away from history and social sciences in general.
The discussion that followed addressed various approaches to doing cultural history and history of emotions as well as the prospects of these fields in the contemporary academic landscape. Thanks to the active stance of the students, pertinent and detailed comments of Professor Stearns and department chair Dr. Alexander Semyonov, the graduate master class session with Dr. Stearns was intense, highly informative, warm and friendly.