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Imperiia: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

Kharkov University

When Catherine established Sloboda Ukraine in 1765, Kharkov was already an important cultural and administrative center of the region. In 1726, a seminary and collegium were established that trained priests as well as those planning for secular careers. In 1804, Kharkov University (Ukrainian name) was founded by Russian intellectual Vasily Karazin. The purpose of the University aligned with other Russian universities at the time; it was a vocational school that taught enlightenment ideals. The training at the university prepared men to become bureaucrats and enter into state service, all while instilling enlightenment thought. The faculty who came to Kharkov University to teach were foreign and they brought with them western European ideas of nationalism. Soon the men at the University began to reminisce of the Ukrainian people’s autonomous past, sparking the beginning of the first Ukrainian nationalist movement. By the 1820’s, Kharkov was a center for cultural rival that included the production of the first anthologies of Ukrainian literature, using the name “Ukraine” as opposed to the Russian name for the region. The intellectuals trained at the Kharkov University soon became interested in the region in which they lived and studied, which further promoted the nationalist movement. These actors included folklorists and writers.

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