In the final years of the Russian Empire, debates over Russia's "backwardness" could be found throughout the public sphere. Russia's kopeck newspapers, the empire's most popular press outlets, regularly examined "backwardness" in comparative perspective, relating perceptions of Russian underdevelopment to perceptions of Western modernity in every aspect of life. In the process, they constructed a civilizational hierarchy and a fixed path of progress in which development depended on imitating Western modernity. This talk explores how late imperial Russia's kopeck newspapers constructed images of Russian backwardness and Western modernity, and how they instrumentalized those images to argue that Russia's future lay in imitating the West.
Felix Cowan is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of Illinois.
Please register for this lecture at https://go.illinois.edu/cowan-lecture