Ilchester Lecture: 'Spaces of Visible Words: On the History of the Russian Graphosphere'

The graphosphere is the space of visible words. Although many of the things that may that form part of a graphosphere have been very widely studied, there is little holistic research on graphospheres as such. What did the Russian graphosphere consist of? How did it emerge, develop, mutate? What was the ‘ecology’ of graphospheric genres and technologies? This lecture explores the history of the Russian graphosphere in two of its principle types of spaces: the public and the private. It identifies phases in the growth of the public graphosphere from the almost mute urban spaces of the Middle Ages to the verbal saturation of modernity; and it offers initial observations on the formation of ‘domestic’ graphospheres. Finally, it poses the question of whether such processes in Russia were similar to or distinct from comparable processes elsewhere.