About One Discussion in Russian Medieval Studies in the Late 20th Century

About One Discussion in Russian Medieval Studies in the Late 20th Century

Maksim N. Shevchenkо
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The article is devoted to the discussion between A. Gurevich and L. Batkin, who made a significant contribution to the development of “non-Soviet” medieval studies. The purpose of the study is to determine the characteristic features of the controversy between A. Gurevich and L. Batkin and its significance in the process of transformation of the epistemological field of Russian historical science. The principles of intellectual history constitute the theoretical foundation of the article. The study was carried out on the basis of comparative historical and historical genetic methods. The present work analyzes the views of A. Gurevich and L. Batkin on a number of methodological issues that were at the center of the debate between the scholars. The author concludes that the dispute under consideration raised questions about the cultural and social essence of the individual, about the implementation by the individual of his functions within social structures, and about the causes and mechanisms for changing cultural values and dominants. The interpretation of the concept of personality determined the choice of approach to the study of society. While for A. Gurevich, the personality is a product of the socio-cultural system of a particular era and the peculiarity of the personality lies in the original combination of common features of culture, L. Batkin views the personality as an individual who, being guided by general norms and regulations, lets them go through his consciousness and as if generates norms and values again. According to L. Batkin, “the conscious personality” is the beginning of overcoming stereotypes and matrices of social consciousness. In this regard, the approach of A. Gurevich was aimed at reconstructing social stereotypes and matrices that determined people’s behavior. L. Batkin analyzed outstanding literary works, which, according to the scholar, reveal change and transformation in the culture under study. A number of points made by L. Batkin during the polemic were perceived and interpreted by Yu. Bessmertnyi, A. Yurganov, A. Karavashkin, and I. Danilevskii and influenced the formation of their research agenda. The scholars agreed that medieval culture should be studied proceeding from the peculiarities of the development of the culture itself; attention should be paid to understanding the specifics of the language of culture, features of thinking and self-expression of the era under study; unique features of culture should be taken into account; it is required to use the principles of hermeneutics as a methodological basis for the interpretation of written sources.
Maksim N. Shevchenkо
Candidate of Historical Sciences, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Historical Disciplines
Religious Organization – Theological Educational Organization of Higher Education “Omsk Theological Seminary of the Omsk Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church”, Omsk, Russia
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historical anthropology, “postmodern challenge”, “history of mentalities”, microhistory, “historical phenomenology”, Russian medieval studies, methods of historical research
For citation:
Shevchenko, M.N. “About One Discussion in Russian Medieval Studies in the Late 20th Century.” Historia Provinciae – the Journal of Regional History, vol. 7, no. 2 (2023): 674–706,

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