History of the Study Group

"... the Study Group on Eighteenth-Century Russia [was] set up... in 1968. The moment was right. With the post-Robbins expansion of British higher education and the post-Hayter enthusiasm for all things Russian in the 1960s, there were now enough specialists teaching in British universities to provide a nucleus for a regular seminar. This met at first two or three times a year, in one or another university at which there were members, for one- or two-day meetings. Coordinated by Tony Cross, and run on a shoestring, the group met regularly and was held together by the publication of the Study Group on Eighteenth-Century Russia Newsletter, starting in September 1973. The first issue of the Newsletter provides a valuable history of the group. Membership had risen from an initial twenty to some fifty; twenty-two papers had been delivered in four years, and it may both startle and amuse member of the group today to find out that the total cost to them, in December 1973, of a programme of four papers, lasting from midday Saturday to midday Sunday, for residents, and including all meals, was £5.50."

"This enormously valuable enterprise is still going strong thirty-six years later. In 1977, the group, then numbering nearly a hundred members in many countries, held an international conference at the University of East Anglia and welcomed members and participants from the USSR, USA, Canada, Ireland, Korea, New Zealand, Germany and Italy. And so it has continued, going from strength to strength: there have now been seven SGECR international conferences. Many a book has made a first tentative appearance as a paper, which can be read today in the protocols of a conference session. One can trace in the annual Newsletters the first outlines of what will later become major works, the first appearances of future professors in British and American universities. Gradually scholars from the Soviet Union joined in; today there are many Russian members. After the last international conference, which was held in Leiden in 1999 and was a huge success, the latest takes place in Wittenberg in 2004."

- excerpt from Isabel de Madariaga, 'Anthony Cross: An Appreciation', in Russian Society and Culture and the Long Eighteenth Century, ed. by Roger Bartlett & Lindsey Hughes (2004)