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Dispute Over Method: The Polemic Between Joachim Lelewel and Nikolai Karamzin

The subject of the planned research is Lelewel’s polemic against Karamzin’s work, which is part of the fundamental dispute over historical method in the 1820s. Not without reason, the title of the project compares Lelewel’s polemical speech to the “Methodenstreit” at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries (XIX and XX), which occurred among prominent German historians. Almost a century earlier, the Vilnius professor had consciously called for a clear definition of what scientific historiography is.

In addition to making the first comprehensive edition of Lelewel’s polemic available to scholars of historical methods, the aim of this edition is to demonstrate how, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, fundamental reflection on the workshop of scientific history also emerged within Polish historiography. The methodological value of this text has already been pointed out by N. Assorodobraj, who published an excerpt from it in Lelewel’s Methodological Writings, which she prepared. The editor indicated that the entire polemic would be published in a section prepared by J. Ochmański with an introduction by H. Łowmiański. However, this did not happen, as the review of Karamzin’s work was omitted from the volume. Filling this gap is therefore necessary for the sake of Polish cultural heritage.

A peculiarity of the edition is that it will include not only the Polish version of the review by the great Polish scholar but also a translation of T. Bulharin’s translation into Russian, along with its translation into modern Polish. This is necessary to showcase the manipulations on the text carried out by the editor of “Severny Archiv”. The edition will also incorporate other excerpts from Lelewel’s reviews, scattered in Polish scientific journals of the nineteenth century. The traditional edition, prepared in accordance with the scientific foundations of the editorial art, will be mirrored in a digital version made available on the website, illustrating the possibilities offered by digital humanities in processing source texts important to Polish cultural heritage.