Latin Christians in the Literary Landscape of Early Rus, c. 988-1330
In the wake of the recent wave of interest in the ties between Early Rus and the Latin world, this dissertation investigates conceptions and depictions of Latin Christians in Early Rusian texts. Unlike previous smaller-scale studies, the present study takes into consideration all indigenous Early Rusian narrative sources which make reference to Latins or the Latin world. Its contribution is twofold. Firstly, it overturns the still prevalent assumption that Early Rusian writers tended to portray Latins as religious Others. There was certainly a place in Early Rusian writing for religious polemic against the Latin faith, but as I show, this place was very restricted. Secondly, having established the considerable diversity and complexity of rhetorical approaches to Latins, this study analyses and explains rhetorical patterns in Early Rusian portrayals of Latins and Latin Christendom. Scholars have tended to interpret these patterns as primarily influenced by extra-textual factors (most often, a text’s time of composition). This study, however, establishes that textual factors—specifically genre and theme—are the best predictors of a text’s portrayal of Latins, and explains the appearance and evolution of particular generic and thematic representations. It also demonstrates that a text’s place of composition tends to have a greater influence on its depictions of Latins than its time of composition. Through close engagement with the subtleties and ambiguities of Early Rusian depictions of Latins, this study furthers contemporary debate on questions of narrative, identity and difference in Rus and the medieval world.