Utility (pol’za) was a watchword of Empress Elizabeth’s reign (1741-61). The 1745 Atlas of the Russian Empire, published in nineteen regional maps and a general map of the empire, was presented in this spirit. The atlas united “geographical rules” and “new observations” to create a complete picture of the All-Russian Empire and contiguous lands. The visual and the imperial intersect in two important ways in the crafting of the Atlas. First, scientific visualization by specialists trained in geography and astronomy, equipped with new instruments and fanning out to remote regions on government-financed expeditions, created the data to be recorded. The relatively new capital of St. Petersburg became the point of reference for mapping the empire. Second, actually drafting the maps on paper was an important moment of imperial representation. What landmarks did the cartographers choose to include? Which geographical features were given priority? How did they picture complicated borders, such as the steppe on the north shore of the Black Sea? This presentation was composed as a short essay for the volume by Valerie Kivelson and Joan Neuberger, Picturing Russian Empire. Professor Evtuhov will expand it into a chapter of her own project in progress, Russia in the Age of Elizabeth (1741-61).
Catherine Evtuhov is a Professor of History at Columbia University. Before that, she taught in the History Department at Georgetown University from 1992 to 2016. Her books include Portrait of a Russian Province: Economy, Society, and Civilization in 19th-Century Nizhnii Novgorod (Pittsburgh UP, 2011), the co-authored A History of Russia: Peoples, Legends, Events, Forces (Houghton-Mifflin Co., 2003; recently translated into Turkish), and The Cross & the Sickle: Sergei Bulgakov and the Fate of Russian Religious Philosophy, 1890-1920 (Cornell UP, 1997).
This event will be held virtually as a Zoom meeting.