Elena Ivanovna Dergachëva-Skop (1937-2022)

Daniel Waugh's picture

We have lost a dear colleague with the death of Elena Ivanovna Dergachëva-Skop on 5 October 2022 at the age of 85. A prolific scholar, organizer of scholarly projects, and an inspiration to her many students, she made a lasting contribution to the study of Old Russian literature and its manuscript traditions, especially those in Siberia. She headed the Department of Early Literature and Literary Source Study in the Humanities Faculty of Novosibirsk State University where she had first begun teaching in 1964.

Her introduction to the serious study and description of Old Russian manuscript books began when she was in her second year at the the Urals State University in Sverdlovsk (Ekaterinburg), the work subsequently expanded and published in TODRL t. 26. The legendary specialist on the collection and preservation of Old Believer manuscripts, Vladimir Ivanovich Malyshev, was among those who encouraged Elena Ivanovna to pursue a path which would later include organizing and participating in archaeographic expeditions throughout Siberia and developing the methodologies for analysis of the books they collected. As Ol’ga Nikolaevna Fokina explains in an essay written to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the inception of Elena Ivanovna’s scholarly career, the honoree was guided in her studies both by representatives of the Moscow and St. Petersburg “schools” of literary scholarship. Elena Ivanovna defended her kandidat dissertation at Pushkinskii Dom, where Varvara Pavlovna Adrianova-Peretts (already then retired) was among her mentors. The opponents at the dissertation defense were Dmitrii Sergeevich Likhachev and Aleksandr Mikhailovich Panchenko. The dissertation expanded work Elena Ivanovna had begun for her undergraduate senior thesis on the literary activity of the major late 17th-century Siberian author and cartographer Semen Ul’ianovich Remezov. Publication and analysis of Remezov’s work would occupy a significant place in Elena Ivanovna’s more than 100 scholarly titles (among them ten monographs). 

Elena Ivanovna’s many students and colleagues emphasize her warm and generous support which was not confined to formal academic interaction. Regularly invited to her home, they were welcomed as members of her family.

I wish I had had the opportunity to know her better. We met but once, at the Likhachev Readings in St. Petersburg in 2003. She invited me to participate in a conference in Tobol’sk in 2007 (the Remezov Readings), but unfortunately I was unable to attend and had to ask a colleague to read my (granted, rather slim) paper. Last year again I was invited to a conference Elena Ivanovna presided over, this time in Novosibirsk. On account of the pandemic, my participation had to be via a virtual link; I am pleased that this paper (a much more substantial contribution) is scheduled to be published there.

We join her family and colleagues in mourning her passing.

For those who would wish to read more about Elena Ivanovna, see the formal announcement issued by her university and especially the heartfelt long essay written over a decade ago by O. N. Fokina, “Nauchnyi poisk kak arkheograficheskoe puteshestvie (k 45-letiiu pedagogicheskoi i nauchnoi deiatel’nosti Eleny Ivanovny Dergachevoi-Skop)”, in Kniga i literatura v kul’turnom prostranstve epoch (XI-XX veka): Sbornik nauchnykh statei. (Novosibirsk, 2011): 13-21.