Professor Simon Dixon, Sir Bernard Pares Chair of Russian History at UCL SSEES, will be leading our next reading group, which will focus on the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and Anglicanism. The session will take place on 2 May from at Pushkin House, Bloomsbury.
It is generally supposed that, before the era of W.J. Birkbeck, relations between Anglicans and the Russian Orthodox Church were the preserve of eccentrics on both sides: maximalists such as William Palmer of Magdalen predictably ran into a brick wall; no leading figures were involved. I hope to suggest a rather different picture by highlighting the role of two leading Russian laymen: Count Aleksandr Tolstoi, chief procurator of the Holy Synod after the Crimean War, and his anglophile friend, Count Evfimii Putiatin, who combined an expertise in the latest naval technology with ultra-Orthodox piety. Though eccentrics are certainly to be found (the convert Stephen Hatherly was one), by concentrating on the period 1840 to 1870 we might throw light on a wider set of concerns, focused partly on hostility to Roman Catholicism and partly on the tensions between pan-Slavism and pan-Orthodoxy.
Born in Lancashire, where he learned Russian at Bolton School, Simon Dixon graduated in History from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he held a Junior Research Fellowship after studying for a PhD at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. Having spent nine years lecturing at the University of Glasgow, he was Professor of Modern History at the University of Leeds from 1999 to 2008 before moving to the Sir Bernard Pares Chair of Russian History at UCL SSEES.