The Roles of the Censor: New Perspectives on Censorship in Nineteenth-Century Russia
The introduction to the special issue cluster explores the complexity and ambiguity inherent in the position of a censor in the Imperial Russia. On the one hand, the censor was a law enforcement agent whose job was to constrain and constrict. At the same time, the act of censoring works of literature or music demanded multiplex interactions between the censor and different participants in the creation and dissemination of these works and thus could never be ‘neutral’ or ‘objective’ towards the aesthetical and cultural dimensions of art. Instead of representing censorship exclusively as an extension of governmental oppressive politics, recent approaches to studying censorship have focused on cultural practices of censors and the censors’ reciprocal interactions with writers, artists and philosophers. By and large, this trend has been absent from the historiography of Russian censorship. The interdisciplinary cluster of articles in this issue illuminates anew the multifarious relationship between the Censorship Department’s officials in Russia of Nicholas I and Alexander II and the authors of the works they reviewed.