Séance 3 : Horizons scientifiques de la littérature russe

  • La séance a lieu le vendredi 17 décembre 2021 de 16h à 18h en anglais (in English only)
  • Thème / Topic : Horizons scientifiques de la littérature russe (XVIIIe-XIXe siècles) / Scientific Horizons of Russian literature (18th-19th centuries)

Interventions prévues :

Valeriia Mutc (University of Yale)

Popular Science and New Readership in Russia at the End of the 19th Century

This talk will discuss the phenomenon of popular science in the 19th century through Around the World, Russia’s most popular journal at the turn of the century. The journal not only popularized science among a wide reading audience, but also created a vision of an ideal consumer of science—a dedicated citizen, who would use scientific advancement to uphold traditional, conservative, and national values of the Russian Empire. Despite the widespread belief that nationalism and exceptionalism in science were a unique product of the Soviet period, a closer look at popular science and science fiction within Around the World demonstrates that, since the 1890s, science became paradoxically linked not to the ideas of progress and change, but to stability, exceptionalism, patriarchal culture, and an autocratic regime.

Anna Graber (University of Minnesota)

The Lessons of Disaster: Theodicy in Lomonosov’s Theory of Earth

There is an incongruence in the treatments of Mikhail Lomonosov in Russian and Western histories of eighteenth-century science.  He is an unsung genius in Russian histories of science, while for Western historians of science he is a nonentity.  The aim of this essay is to bridge this gap to determine Lomonosov’s—and by extension Russia’s—role in a narrative of eighteenth-century science. I argue that Lomonosov is best understood as a “go-between” who crossed between the different cultures and environments of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, German mines and universities, and the homes of his aristocratic patrons.  This essay takes Lomonosov’s scientific and literary works on the earth as a case study of the creative work Lomonosov performed in translating knowledge systems between the mine, the academy, and the court.  Special focus is given to the Oration on the Generation of Metals in Earthquakes (1757), which I read as a geological theodicy. The goal of the oration is to give meaning to earthquakes, shifting the perspective from that of those suffering in earthquakes to an understanding of earthquakes as part of a cycle of metal production that is ultimately to humankind’s benefit.  Addressing at once a double audience of Elizabeth’s courtiers (on the occasion of the empress’s name day) and the European Republic of Letters (through publication of a Latin edition of the text of the oration), Lomonosov mediates between the two groups to process the Enlightenment’s defining natural disaster—the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755—into a novel theory of the phlogiston cycle and of metallogensis and to intervene on the side of Leibnizian and Wolffian theodicy in the Quarrel of Optimism.

Modération et discussion / Discussant : Daria Sinichkina (Sorbonne Université, Eur’ORBEM)

Pour participer par zoom, cliquer sur le lien (Zoom link) : https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86750764839?pwd=blJDbmpFYjdiL3JkN2c5NkNjMDRpQT09
ID de réunion : 867 5076 4839
Code secret : 761804

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