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Title: 'Sciences strange and diverse' : Europeanization through the transfer of scientific knowledge in Russia, 1717-65
Author: Iosad, Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0004 6493 9236
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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The history of the cultural role of science in eighteenth-century Russia has to date mostly focused on the biographies of specific individuals or the reception of particular scientific theories. This is despite the fact that science has been shown to play an important role in contemporary European Enlightenment culture, which certainly represented a model for emulation in the eyes of Russian elites. This thesis argues for a new approach to the study of science in Russian society in the period between the reigns of Peter I and Catherine II that takes into account both the role of state-sponsored institutions in shaping attitudes towards science and their reception by the Russian literate public. It argues that the first half of the eighteenth century saw the introduction of a number of discourses that variously ascribed value to natural knowledge on the basis of its rarity (curiosity), utility, or relevance to polite sociability and refined leisure (pleasure). These three approaches to the study of nature, which had their roots in contemporary European thought, effectively defined the terms in which educated Russians thought about science. Their common feature was the association of scientific knowledge with elite European culture, which was eventually internalized by the Russian court soci-ety. The thesis explores the role of material culture, paratexts, and ephemeral genres in shaping perceptions of science. Through a number of case studies, it demonstrates the complexity of Russian interactions with European notions of science, mediated through state-sponsored institutions at different points in time or encountered directly. Ultimately, it demonstrates the coexistence of a variety of attitudes to European natural knowledge, all associated with different conceptions of elite European culture and internalized at different points in time, helping to expand our view of the role of science in Russian elite culture.
Supervisor: Zorin, Andrei ; Corsi, Pietro Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available