University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Cabinet of Natural History > Cabinets, eclipses and lightning rods: the role of curiosity in the perception of science in 18th-century Russia

Cabinets, eclipses and lightning rods: the role of curiosity in the perception of science in 18th-century Russia

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The historiography of science in 18th-century Russia has largely focused on the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences, founded in 1725. While understandable in the light of available sources, this institutional bias has sometimes obscured the larger issue of the place of science in contemporary Russian culture. By considering the kinds of objects and phenomena that attracted the attention of Russians in the first half of the century, we can learn more about the way European science was seen in a country that had little tradition of systematic study of nature and its relation to the wider culture of Russianelites. In particular, we can trace the way in which different European approaches to nature, introduced under the banner of Europeanization, were appropriated and conflicted with each other as the century wore on. Ultimately, the presentation will show that the story of the Academy is just one part of a complex cultural landscape in Russia before Catherine II.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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