On 16 October 2018, for the first time in the history of UCU a graduate student defended a “candidate’s-degree” dissertation. This young researcher was Ivan Almes, whose public defense happened in Lviv at a session of the Specialized Learned Council of the Ivan Krypiakevych Institute of Ukrainian Studies and the Institute of Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. I. Almes chose as the theme of his dissertation the book collections in the sociocultural environment of religious communities of the Lviv Eparchy of the 17th-18th centuries. The research was conducted as part of the instructional-research program of the Humanities and Theology and Philosophy faculties of UCU, Kyivan Christianity, and the Religious Culture of Early Modern Ukraine concentration of UCU’s Department of Modern and Contemporary History of Ukraine.
The student’s key methodological approach was interdisciplinary, combining research methods of fields of knowledge like church history, historical hermeneutics, the history of literature, social history, the history of reading, codex studies, and book studies. The author studies book collections in religious centers in the categories of cultural history, using theoretical schemas of the French School of the history of the book and taking into account the experience of English and Ukrainian scholars in the field of book studies. The book in the monastic environment is viewed in the dissertation as a component in creating the spiritual atmosphere of monasteries and understood as a “cultural product,” and reading books is an important cultural practice.
As Prof. Ihor Skochylias, the scholarly advisor of I. Almes, noted, the particularity of the dissertation is the author’s use of an ecclesial approach, which is understood as an interdisciplinary manner of studying religious culture which combines methodological approaches of historical, theological, culturological, legal, social, and philological disciplines. Instead, the successful defense of this scholarly work gives every ground to expect the formation at UCU of a new generation of qualified young researchers who will continue an academic tradition already formed within the walls of our university for the study of theological, historical, and canonical sources of the tradition of the ancient Kyivan metropolitanate.
Ivan Almes, who a few days ago was awarded the scholarly degree of a candidate of historical studies, is the author of more than 20 articles in the Ukrainian, Polish, Spanish, and Lithuanian languages, six of which have been printed abroad. In a recently-presented collective monograph, “At the crossroads of culture: The Monastery and Church of the Holy Trinity in Vilnius,” two of his historical sketches were published. Ivan Almes is the first laureate of UCU’s Bohdan Solchanyk Hero of Ukraine Award, and in his home parish in the Drohobych area he conducts an Orthodox Sunday school.