Sukina, L. B. VISUAL SOURCE: PERSPECTIVES, PROBLEMS AND LIMITATIONS OF ITS USE AS AN INFORMATION RESOURCE. Proceedings of Petrozavodsk State University. 2023;45(2):95–100. DOI: 10.15393/

Discussions. Source Studies in Actual Historical Culture


L. B.
Program Systems Insti- tute of the Russian Academy of Sciencies
Russian history
source studies
visual source
information encoding
analysis methods
Summary: The article is written in line with the approach that is relevant in the modern socio-cultural context and has formed as a result of the so-called “visual turn” in historical science. It analyzes, for the first time, the specifics of visual sources as information resources for studying Russian history. The author used the methodology of the cognitive model of source studies, according to which images and written texts belong to different types of sources. They differ not only by their material media, but also by the information encoding principles. The purpose of the article is to show the perspectives and identify the objective and subjective limitations in the study and decoding of various images by a historian. The experience of working with visual sources from different eras of Russian history shows that productive results are possible only with the use of special thoroughly designed methods and the interdisciplinary approach. And even then a historian will face a wide range of problems, some of which (e. g., the lack of free access to images, inability to obtain high-quality copies, etc.) do not depend on the researcher’s will and professionalism. Other problems are re- lated to the fact that images, unlike written sources familiar to a historian, encode information in the form of images and require special intellectual training expanding the researcher’s professional horizons. This is by no means a reason to dismiss such an important information resource. It is necessary to further develop, improve, and professionally discuss the methods of source analysis of visual sources and their archaeographical description.

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