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International Peter the Great Congress - Russia-UK: Five Centuries of Cultural Relations

Call for Papers

Conference venue: St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
Period: June 9-11, 2014
Deadline for submitting abstracts: March 25, 2015


The 6th International Peter the Great Congress "Russia-UK: Five Centuries of Cultural Relations" is to be held in St Petersburg, 9-11 June 2014. It will form part of the official programme of the bi-lateral UK/Russia Year of Culture.
The organizers of the Congress on the Russian side are the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the State Hermitage, the Peterhof State National Park Museum, the Institute of Peter the Great, and the Dmitry Likhachev Foundation. On the British side the organisation of the Congress is coordinated by the Cambridge-Courtauld Russian Art Centre - CCRAC.
The object of the Russia-UK Congress is to open new pages in the history of cultural relations between our two countries, to affirm the mutual benefits of cultural cooperation, and to initiate new cultural projects.

In 1553 the Edward Bonaventure, an English ship commanded by Richard Chancellor, dropped anchor in the estuary of the Northern Dvina. The English made their way to Moscow, where they were welcomed by Ivan IV. It was a visit that initiated diplomatic, commercial and cultural contacts between the two countries. The English were soon granted trade privileges and allowed their own town house near the Moscow Kremlin.
While political relations between the countries underwent inevitable ups-and-downs, cultural contacts developed. The publication of the first English accounts of Muscovy by Richard Hakluyt at the end of the sixteenth century provided valuable information for the reading public and the 'Russian theme' was embraced by English poets and writers.
Peter the Great played a crucial role in bringing the two nations closer together, visiting England in January-June 1698 and recruiting into Russian service a wide range of English and Scottish specialists, including naval officers, shipbuilders, and engineers, and granting new privileges to the Russia Company, whose merchants were to flourish in the soon-to be-founded St Petersburg, where a strong British colony grew up in the eighteenth century.
Throughout the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth British teachers in Peter's Navigation School, headed by Henry Farquharson, shipbuilders such as Cozens and Nye, engineers such as Perry, Lane and Upton, and a host of naval officers, including the Admirals Greig, made an enormous contribution to the development of the Russian navy.
Russians were sent to Britain by Peter to serve in the Royal Navy and down the eighteenth century up to the Battle of Trafalgar young Russians learnt their skills on British ships. They were joined by numerous other young Russians learning all manner of trades and in the age of Catherine II Russians began to study at the great universities of Scotland and England.
It was also the age of the Grand Tour and members of the Russian aristocracy and gentry were increasingly visiting London and the provinces.
Similarly, British technical experts and specialists arrived in Russia to help build and run mills and factories and install machinery.  British landscape gardeners were recruited to lay out and tend gardens "in the English style".  Architects such as Cameron, Menelaws and Hastie left their mark, as did a succession of painters, including Richard Brompton, Robert Ker Porter and George Dawe, creator of the portraits in the Winter Palace's Military Gallery.
British tourists came initially to St Petersburg and Moscow but increasingly to visit all parts of the ever expanding Russian Empire in the late eighteenth and throughout the nineteenth century. A great number of travel accounts, works on Russian history and geography were published. English literature and culture was very much in vogue in the reigns of Catherine II and Alexander I and an impressive amount of translations (especially from Shakespeare, Byron, Walter Scott and Dickens) appeared.
The British were slower to react to Russian culture but in the decades after the Crimean War the British public became more aware of the achievements of Russian novelists and composers and artists, leading to the cult of all things Russian in the first decades of the twentieth century, not least the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, plays of Chekhov, the music of Tchaikovsky, and the exotica of the ballets russes.
Britain was home to a host of Russian political exiles and immigrants, particularly from the second half of the nineteenth century, including notably Herzen and Ogarev, Kropotkin and Stepniak-Kravchinskii, but it was also visited by a steady stream of eminent novelists, poets, artists and performers that has only increased of recent years. Today London boasts a huge expatriate Russian population and Russian culture enjoys wide exposure to the British public.

Eligible topics

At the Congress the following areas are proposed as subjects for discussion:

Guidelines for submission

In order to take part in the Congress it is essential to submit before 25 March 2014 an application that provides the following details: full name, place of employment and position, contact details (e-mail; home and mobile telephone numbers; fax) and a short synopsis of the proposed paper (1000-1800 characters).
The Organizing Committee reserves the right to select the papers to be delivered at the Congress.
The working languages of the Congress are Russian and English.
The Organizing Committee will provide accommodation and subsistence in St Petersburg from 8 to 12 June 2014 for out-of-town and foreign participants.


Information & contacts

Dmitry Likhachev Foundation
tel.: +7 812 272 91 43
fax: +7 812 272 29 12

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