How Russian Art Historians Learn to Write
Smirnova and Guseva explore how writing has been taught in the domain of art history in Russia. They draw on academic literacy theory and work from two major premises: a) writing is a type of social practice and b) writing is closely linked with the knowledge-making practices in a discipline. They employed semi-structured interviews to explore how participants were taught to write in the discipline and how they have taught their students to write. The results of their study indicate that mentoring and discovery learning were the main teaching approaches and that writing was seen as purely instrumental, a skill that one acquired naturally from experience. The interview data indicates that the participants were reinventing their writing and that the major tensions in that process were closely linked to: 1) access to resources in the process of researching and producing a text, and 2) traditions of knowledge-making globally and in the particular geopolitical and socio-historic context of Russia. The findings indicate that research on the writing for publication practices of art historians has been challenging because this knowledge domain is marked by varying interpretative epistemologies within national, cultural, and or geopolitical contexts.