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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reform meets reality : Egor Gordienko and the early primary educational initiatives of Count Dmitrii Tolstoi Hamilton, John Charles Thomas

Abstract

By examining in detail an article by Professor Egor S. Gordienko, "Zemstvo i narodniya shkoly " ("The Zemstvo and the Popular Schools") published in the "liberal" journal, Vestnik Evropy (The Messenger of Europe), in January 1870, and by situating Professor Gordienko within the frame of the contemporary debates about literacy, elementary education, and local governance in post-emancipation Russia, this thesis demonstrates how one "small deeds" liberal used available journalistic means to propagandize against government policy, to get around government restrictions against publication of zemstvo debates and to push forward his own agenda in Kharkov uezd. The commitment of Egor Gordienko, zemstvo member, to the dissemination of literacy was an important factor in moving the liberal project of social betterment forward in Kharkov uezd, despite the serious impediments it faced, not least of which was the opposition of the central government to local control over administrative and educational initiatives. In light of a western historiography of the period which has focussed on both the more prominent and more obscure, subaltern groups, Gordienko is a subject with appeal, not just because of his committed political activism, but because he represents too a pragmatic, liberal impulse, for which there is little current historiographical sympathy and which is too easily overlooked in a history of idealistic responses to extreme repression.

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