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HSE’s Yulia Ivanova and Pavel Sokolov Present Seminars at University of Cologne

Yulia Ivanova and Pavel Sokolov, Leading Research Fellows at the HSE Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities, conducted three seminars for the students of the University of Cologne’s Slavic Department on June 27 and 28. Based on an idea suggested by Professor Jörg Schulte, Director of the university’s Slavic Department, these seminars represent the start of a course called ‘Iter Italicum Slavorum’, which is dedicated to the perception of Italy and Italian culture throughout the Slavic world. The aim of the HSE researchers was to inform students about the relations between Rus and Italy during the Middle Ages and the early Modern period, as well as shed light on some facts of how Italian culture was perceived in Russia from the 18th through the 20th centuries.

The audience included students who attended the Summer School at HSE’s Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod campuses organized at the start of June by the future teachers of the programme ‘Cultural and Intellectual History: Between East and West’, as well as Master’s students taking part in the HSE School of History programme ‘Historical Knowledge’. However, most of the audience was students and faculty from the University of Cologne.

The first seminar was an introductory lecture on embassies and trips by Russians to Italy, and Italians to Russia, from the legendary Antony of Rome to Tsarevich Alexei. The second and third seminars were largely about the various marvels of Russian and Italian literature and architecture. Under Yulia Ivanova’s supervision, the students analyzed a short story from Vladimir Odoevsky’s Russian Nights, the main character of which is Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Furthermore, Pavel Sokolov spoke about the work of the real Piranesi and illustrated his lecture with engravings by the artist and his predecessors. As part of a background commentary on the history of architecture, the attendees learned about artists, engravers, and book illustrators who drew the ruins of ancient cities and worked in the ‘fantastical architecture’ genre, starting with the renowned Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (late 15th century).  

The final seminar was dedicated to the reception of Andrea Palladio’s theoretical and architectural heritage in Russia, and, particularly, in regards to the works of Nikolay Lvov. The series finished with an analysis of the images of Italians and the perception of Italy on the part of Russians in Alexei Tolstoy’s novel Count Cagliostro, as well as in Alexander Galin’s movie Mantello di Casanova (1993). In the near future, students in Cologne will continue studying the reception of Italian culture in the Slavic world by looking at examples from Polish literature and culture, under the supervision ofSlavic Department lecturers, Prof. Jörg Schulte and Jan Czarnecki.

Dr. Ewa Rudnicka (Artes Liberales, Warsaw, Poland), Prof. Vim Kudenis (University of Leuven, University of Antwerp, Belgium), and Prof. Gasan Guseinov (HSE School of Philology) were guests at the seminar.