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Contested geographies and cultures in which (according to Iurii Lotman's and Boris Uspenskii's seminal study "Binary Models in the Dynamics of Russian Culture") there is a lack of relatively neutral political, social, economic, and legal institutions capable of mediating between the polarities of church and state, private and public, sacred and secular. As a consequence, for the last two centuries Russian literature and literary debate have assumed extraordinary significance as almost the sole realm of negotiating a collective as well as individual identity. The binary structure of Russian culture in large part characterizes the relationship between literature and science as well. Throughout modern Russian history, one finds either extreme tension between the two or radically synthetic attempts to erase the gap between different modes of knowledge altogether.

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Copyright © 2002 Greenwood Press. This chapter first appeared in Encyclopedia of Literature and Science.

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