Last year Denis Merkulov obtained his bachelor’s degree in the field of philology at the Faculty of Humanities at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow and is now continuing his studies there at a master’s program in comparative literature. As an undergraduate, he worked both with literary texts, commenting on Russian society tales of the 1820s, and with material objects, researching the images and inscriptions in Ancient Rus’ epigraphy of 11th–14th centuries. Then, he proceeded with his studies investigating the notions noble and simple/of humble origin in early modern Russian texts within the framework of conceptual history.
Denis Merkulov’s current research project is devoted to historical and political views of prince B. I. Kurakin (1676–1727), a prominent diplomat at the court of Peter the Great. In his writings, Kurakin incorporates Russia into the European context and therefore substantiates his constant complaints about Peter’s disregard towards the court nobility and his preference to the people of low birth in particular, and about the contemporary Russian political and court order in general. This outcome took D. Merkulov further to search for the European sources of the aristocratic myth of Russian history, in the words of Paul Bushkovitch, an eminent expert in Russian history of the 18th century.