Winner: Jan Hennings, Russia and Courtly Europe: Ritual and the Culture of Diplomacy, 1648-1725 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016)
This is a highly accomplished and genuinely original work. It reinvigorates the study of diplomatic history by demonstrating how important it is for understanding the general course of Russian history. Hennings has read widely in a praiseworthy, interdisciplinary way, drawing extensively on recent anthropological work in particular. His major contribution is positioning the developing diplomatic relationship of Muscovy/Russia in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries within the wider context of recent work on courtly culture. The focus on precedent and hierarchy enables him quietly and effectively to demolish many of the assumptions behind general narratives—especially in International Relations—concerning the emergence of the modern European states system.
Honorable mention: Nancy Shields Kollman, The Russian Empire, 1450-1801 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).
This book is an impressive achievement that deconstructs and challenges the traditional nationalist/statist interpretation of Russian history. Built round the concept of “empires of difference,” it draws on a wealth of recent writing to construct a convincing and persuasive account of the development of that empire between 1450 and 1800. It is particularly good where it builds on the author’s previous work on the boyar elite, on Russian law and the legal system, and on Russian concepts of honor. Indeed, by setting that work within the broader framework of the empire as a whole, Kollmann is able to draw out its wider implications. This book will stand as a valued reinterpretation of the development of the empire for years to come.
2017 Article prize
Winner: Maria Grazia Bartolini, “’Judging a book by its cover’: Meditation, Memory, and Invention in Seventeenth-Century Ukrainian Title Pages,” Canadian Slavonic Papers/Revue canadienne des slavistes, 59 no. 1-2 (March-June 2017): 21-55.
Bartolini has written an article that is deeply learned in the best possible sense. It develops a sophisticated set of arguments concerning the transitions in the Ruthenian Orthodox Church from medieval to modern ways of conceptualizing and utilizing images and text, and the relationship between them. The author provided a sound theoretical canvas for her argument and then filled it with historical examples and cultural parallels. It will be of considerable value not only to art and book historians but also scholars of cultural transition and hybridity in the Slavic world.
Honorable mention: Sergei Bogatyrev, “The Patronage of Early Printing in Moscow,” Canadian-American Slavic Studies 51: 2-3 (2017): 249-88.
This is a valuable article that examines and reinterprets the history of early printing in Muscovy, with thorough research and deep engagement with the historiography. The author’s account of the problems over Ivan IV’s relationship to literary works in general and printed books in particular is subtle and well-handled. His discussion of the differences between Muscovite and Polish-Lithuanian printing traditions demonstrates a value in researching the early Slavic world more broadly.
Congratulations to all!