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Writing, Society and Culture in Early Rus, c.950–1300


  • Page extent: 356 pages
  • Size: 216 x 140 mm
  • Weight: 0.45 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521129022)

This book provides a thorough survey and analysis of the emergence and functions of written culture in Rus (covering roughly the modern East Slav lands of European Russia, Ukraine and Belarus). Part I introduces the full range of types of writing: the scripts and languages, the materials, the social and physical contexts, ranging from builders' scratches on bricks through to luxurious parchment manuscripts. Part II presents a series of thematic studies of the 'socio-cultural dynamics' of writing, in order to reveal and explain distinctive features in the Rus assimilation of the technology. The comparative approach means that the book may also serve as a case-study for those with a broader interest either in medieval uses of writing or in the social and cultural history of information technologies. Overall, the impressive scholarship and idiosyncratic wit of this volume commend it to students and specialists in Russian history and literature alike. Awarded the Alec Nove Prize, given by the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies for the best book of 2002 in Russian, Soviet or Post-Soviet studies.

• Richly illustrated • Set to become the standard work in the field (in any language) on the relationship of writing in the Rus' principalities to society as a whole • Comprehensive, scholarly, but accessible to specialists and non-specialists


Part I. The Graphic Environment: 1. The written remains; 2. Scripts and languages; 3. The changing environment; Part II. Functions and Perceptions of Writing: 4. Writing and social organisation; 5. Writing and learning; 6. Writing and pictures; 7. Writing and magic; 8. Afterword: on the social and cultural dynamics of writing.


Review of the hardback: 'Written with wit and style as well as great erudition, Franklin's book breaks new ground … the virtual tour that Franklin constructs of a Kievan church combines all his gifts as historian, reader, and observer. The result is a spellbinding performance that brings Franklin's own reader as close as possible to reading the world through they eyes of a Kievan.' Medium Aevum

Review of the hardback: '… remarkable … Nobody could claim it as a quick read, but it would be a pity if it were to be used only as an encyclopaedic reference-work: arguments are developed … that deserve to be followed - the book is nicely produced, well indexed …' Slavonic & East European Review

Review of the hardback: '… coherent, illuminating … great insight … Constituting at the same time gazetteer, original thesis and wide-ranging synthesis, this fine work does justice to the many dimensions of the culture that eventually gave rise to Russia.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Review of the hardback: '… the book is very much up to date … meets high scholarly standards … makes for unusually pleasant reading … interesting and illumination to read … recommended reading.' Russian Linguistics

Review of the hardback: '… a splendid work whose depth of scholarship, graceful writing, and incisive analysis recommend it both to comparativists and to students of early Slavic history. Thoroughly convincing, authoritative and elegant, Writing deserves a broad audience.' English Historical Review

Review of the hardback: 'This is an engagingly written and scholarly presentation of an essential aspect of the study of Russian for philologists and serious linguists. The whole is preceded by indispensable lists of illustrations and abbreviations, a note on transliteration, and a map. … This is a most useful, non-simplifying summary and exploration for anyone taking a fresh look at the early history of Russian.' Forum for Modern Language Studies

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