An Encounter of the Opposites: Images of Russia in Italian Renaissance Writing and the Russian Responses
Ovanes Akopyan received his PhD from the University of Warwick in 2018. Since 2017, he has been a research fellow in the project "NOSCEMUS: Latin and Early Modern Scientific Literature" supported by an ERC advanced grant and based at the University of Innsbruck. He has published extensively on Renaissance and early modern intellectual history and science, including Debating the Stars in the Italian Renaissance: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola's Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem and its Reception (Brill, 2021). Akopyan's second monograph, provisionally entitled Explaining Natural Disasters in Early Modern Europe: Politics, Science, Rhetoric, is under contract with The Johns Hopkins University Press.
This project investigates the shifting perception of Russia in Italian Renaissance writing, roughly between 1480, when it was an almost entirely unknown and mysterious eastern neighbor, and 1547, when it came to be seen as an integral part of the European world. Based on a large corpus of hitherto unexplored sources, this study identifies the factors behind this transformation and demonstrates how political needs prompted an increasing interest in the Muscovite state among Italian scholars. At the same time, with a particular focus on the reception of Renaissance learning in Muscovy, the project provides the first comprehensive study of the image of Italy in contemporary Russian texts.