of the Slavic Interest Group

12 March, AS XXX (1996)

From the Nachalnik

Greetings all!

Well, it's been quite a while since I last got a mailing out to you (five months, more or less). My excuse is that I was getting the second edition of my Dictionary of Period Russian Names (Free Trumpet) out to press. However, I'm always busy, so it's a lousy excuse.

Since the first issue of the Newsletter, a number of you have sent me submissions. I am very thankful to all of you for that. The Bibliography has gained a page or two and I have a number of new sources available. Anyone who wants a copy of the updated Bibliography (or Mailing List) should send me a special request (a dollar to cover my expenses as well would be appreciated but is not required). If you are going to be at Pennsic (and can wait until then), I will bring copies with me to distribute there. Keep sending me more submissions so we can have an impressive list by then!

Speaking of which, it is my intention to meet again at Pennsic (sorry, I won't make Thirty Year, but if anyone wants to organize something there, let us know!). Hopefully, we'll be able to schedule it as a class again and get an A&S Tent. If not, we'll meet at Herald's Point (where I'll be running Pennsic cries again this year).

Many of you are already aware of the SIG Web Site. Our URL is Those of you who are aware, however, should check it out again. After a long hiatus, I have made a number of improvements to the site, including a page of links, the updated mailing list and bibliography, notes from lectures made by Eve Levin and Carolyn Pouncy, and some cosmetic changes. Check it out!

While I may be a bit tardy in distribution, I assure you that I am interested in your submissions. Please keep them coming. Remember that without your input, this group cannot survive. I am still very interested in material on non-Russian Slavs, but will take anything with a Slavic interest.

Finally, a warm welcome to our new members. We're glad to have you all with us! Please pass along the existence of this group to others!


By Predslava Vydrina (Masha Holl)

Although the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991, it is still with us in many irritating ways. One such thorn in my side is Soviet scholarship. And my particular gripe today is historical scholarship. And even if you don't read Russian, you may still have to deal with Soviet scholarship yourself someday.

The problem posed by Soviet authors to self-respecting Western researchers is that everything they wrote was tainted by the necessity to bow down to official ideology. Even the greatest scholars, whose analyses are valid and compelling, whose scholarship is sound and knowledge vast, are affected. Their writing may be confusing unless you remember that their terminology has a political slant and differs from our own, although the words seem identical.

Therefore keep in mind that Soviet scholarship existed to affirm the rightness of the communist regime, and the tasks of historical scholarship was to show the logical and inevitable progression from the feudal middle ages to the progressive and quasi-paradisiac communist state. No matter that Russia never was a feudal state or that the communist era was everything but Paradise. Any deviation from this pattern is an exception to be noted, treasured, and shared.

New Books

  • Suzanne Massie's book Land of the Firebird: The Beauty of Old Russia is now available in paperback for $23 plus shipping. Call 207-374-5748 or write to: Heart Tree Press, P.O. Box 1569, Blue Hill ME 04614.


  • Facets Video continues to provide some fabulous hard- to-find videos that are worth checking out. A recent catalog includes the vaguely post-period "Peter the Great," featuring Maximillian Schell, Vanessa Redgrave, Laurence Olivier, and Omar Sharif. 380 (6 hours 20 minutes) of costume drama and pomp. All for only $39.95 (plus shipping). You can get more information from them (including a catalog): Facets Video, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago IL 60614. They sure like sending me catalogs and the catalogs are fun to read through!

    Computer Stuff

  • Point your browser to the new pages on the group's site. Among the new features is a page of links to member sites and sites of related interest. I'm working on expanding the list, so send me suggestions. Also let me know if any of you have sites of your own. In addition to the page of links, you should check out the new set of lecture notes.

    The first is from a lecture by Carolyn Pouncy (translator of the Domostroi) entitled "Her Husband's Crown: Women's Lives in Ivan the Terrible's Russia." The lecture covers anumber of aspects of medieval women's lives. The notes are courtesy of Augustina Be Arce (Brenda L. Hunter-Andrews).

    The second set comes from a lecture made by Eve Levin (author of Sex and Society Amongst the Medieval Slavs) about the cult of Saint Paraskeva. Paraskeva was not only an important medieval saint of the merchants of Novgorod, but was also believed to be important to medieval Slavic women, at least, according to writers like Joanna Hubbs. Levin debunks these latter assertions, arguing that many of these ideas are simply feminist revisionism or erronoeous interpretations based upon biased 19th-century Russian scholarship.

    Copies of both lectures are also available from the editor (Paul Wickenden of Thanet).

  • ABSEES (the American Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies) on-line is no longer available as a free source. However, it can still be found in hard copy in most academic libraries.


  • We're looking for material on the Caucuses, particularly women's costumes, social structure, and naming practices. I got stumped with that query. Can you help? If you can, drop a note to Paula at (or send the information to me and I will pass it along). She asks in particular for costume ideas other than a purda!

    Standard Disclaimer Stuff: Most of us are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc (SCA) but our Interest Group and its newsletter are not officially affiliated with the SCA. Naturally, then, this Newsletter does not have even the faintest intentional resemblance to anything that the SCA officially endorses.