W. Bruce Lincoln Book Prize

2012 Citation Recipient

Tracy Dennison

The W. Bruce Lincoln Book Prize, established in 2004 and sponsored by Mary Lincoln, is awarded annually for an author’s first published monograph or scholarly synthesis that is of exceptional merit and lasting significance for the understanding of Russia’s past, published in the previous year.

Winner: Tracy Dennison
Title: The Institutional Framework of Russian Serfdom (Cambridge University Press)

In The Institutional Framework of Russian Serfdom, Tracy Dennison offers a compelling new interpretation of Russian serfdom that makes us rethink Russian rural history and the history of Russian economic development. Based on painstaking research and rigorous analysis, the book paints a richly textured and often surprising portrait of serfs’ lives and economic relations on the Voshchaznikovo estate, a Sheremetyevo family holding in the Yaroslavl region. Deftly moving between the micro history of a single estate and the master narratives that have shaped Russian rural and economic history, Dennison skillfully challenges the “peasant myth” that has long presented Russian rural society as dominated by communal landholding and collectivist behavior. In its stead, she reveals a rural world in which serfs participated in markets in land, labour, and credit, all enabled by the institutions of serfdom. The result is an ambitious, nuanced, and thought-provoking treatment of serfdom, Russian society, and the vagaries of Russian economic development in the century preceding emancipation. It is a model of empirical historical scholarship.

Honorable Mention: Kristin Roth-Ey
Title: Moscow Prime Time: How the Soviet Union Built the Media Empire that Lost the Cultural Cold War (Cornell University Press)

In Moscow Prime Time, Kristin Roth-Ey takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the Soviet media empire, from its inception in the 1950s through to its zenith under late Socialism. This smart and engaging book offers a probing analysis of the cultural mission that animated Soviet cinema, radio and television and of the forces that shaped and constrained it, including cold-war competition, technological change, and popular taste. Beautifully written and subtly argued, Moscow Prime Time casts new light on the mechanisms of Soviet cultural production and on the tensions that defined Soviet Culture in the mass media age. It is a lively, ambitious, and original study, with significant conclusions about both the strengths and weaknesses of the Soviet project.