This year, ASEEES is holding its 50th annual convention and celebrating 70 years since its founding. Dostoevsky scholarship remains a crucial part of scholarship in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian studies, as the following list attests. Once again, the convention offers a rich selection of panels, roundtables, and individual presentations on Dostoevsky’s works and thought. The list below is divided into two parts: Part I features panels and roundtables that focus primarily on Dostoevsky; Part II lists panels and roundtables where Dostoevsky features prominently in at least one presentation. We hope you can join us in Boston to hear about the fruits of another year’s work on Dostoevsky!
Panels with a Principal Focus on Dostoevsky
Thursday, December 6
Perversity in Dostoevsky
Thu, December 6, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Grand Ballroom Salon I
Perversity is a central concept for Dostoevsky studies. It entails an internal dialogism – where a discourse is deliberately contradicted, subverted or mocked in the perverse act. A perverse discourse is thus parasitical as it depends on a host narrative to manipulate and transform. Perversity can often be an act of provocation and also goes hand-in-hand with performativity, as the deliberate desire for contrariness implies the presence of an audience one is being perverse for. There are thus natural connections in Dostoevsky between perversity, performativity, provocation and parasitism. The papers in this panel will explore this rich seam of ideas in Dostoevsky’s work, focusing largely on novels he wrote after his return from Siberian exile, but also, in one case, discussing it in the context of his polemically-inclined, journalistic writing. These papers will largely seek to build on Bakhtinian Dostoevsky, exploring the existential, epistemic and ethical consequences of radical dialogism and polyphony.
“Lebedev as Anti-Saint: A Study in Dostoevsky’s Negative Anthropology” – Denis Zhernokleyev, Vanderbilt University
“The Perverse Mysticism of Dostoevsky’s Westernizers” – Bilal Siddiqi, University College London
“The Imp of the Perverse and the Oxygen of Publicity” – Lynn E. Patyk, Dartmouth College
Discussant: Carol Apollonio, Duke University
Friday, December 7
Dostoevsky’s Unstable Narratives: Self, Narrators, Discourse, Form
Fri, December 7, 8:00 to 9:45am, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Grand Ballroom Salon I
This panel examines three of Dostoevsky’s works, with an eye towards narrative instability. The protagonists, narrators, spaces, discourses, and even the narrative structures of Dostoevsky’s works are distressingly unstable. Pervasive across his oeuvre is an acute sense of an unstable self, confronting the moral, spiritual, and historical disintegration occurring in 1860s and 1870s Russia. This emerges at the level of structure via conflicting discourses, unreliable narration, ambiguous information, and an impulse towards fragmentation both in perspective and form. Our interdisciplinary panel brings together psychology, narratology, discourse analysis, and sociology to shed light on the instability – of self, narrative, and reference – central to Dostoevsky’s poetics.
“Dostoevsky’s Narrative Suicide Etiology: Egoistic, Altruistic, Anomic, and Fatalistic Paradigms” – Amy D. Ronner, St. Thomas University
“Problems of Narrative Irregularity in Dostoevsky’s Demons” – Kornelije Kvas, University of Belgrade
“Serving Dostoevsky: Myshkin as Servant and Counter-Narrator in The Idiot” – Inna Kapilevich, Columbia University
Discussant: Deborah A. Martinsen, Columbia University
Dostoevsky’s Podrostok (Roundtable)
Fri, December 7, 10:00 to 11:45am, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Grand Ballroom Salon I
Dostoevsky’s critically neglected novel, The Adolescent [Podrostok] (1875), has long been considered an artistic failure. The scholars on this roundtable disagree. They argue, by contrast, that The Adolescent contains the keys to understanding Dostoevsky’s work as a whole. They will explore problems ranging from Dostoevsky’s reinvention of the bildungsroman genre, to Versilov’s changing role in the novel (from the notebooks to the final version); from the gender dynamics of speech and silence, to illegitimacy as a metaphor for Dostoevskian modes of characterization. By bringing a wide range of new interpretations and approaches into dialogue, this roundtable aims to spark new critical interest in The Adolescent, while treating it as a test case for mediating diverging approaches to and perspectives on Dostoevsky’s art.
Yuri Corrigan, Boston University
Kate Rowan Holland, University of Toronto
Chloë Kitzinger, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Chloe Simone Papadopoulos, Yale University
Dostoevsky in Space
Fri, December 7, 12:30 to 2:15pm, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Grand Ballroom Salon I
This panel explores Dostoevsky’s engagement with and depiction of the built environment and the natural world. From the sensory to the imagined, from Siberian prisons, the streets of St. Petersburg, to the mountain of Switzerland, consideration of space in Dostoevsky’s work is essential. As the presentations on this panel show, a place as apparent and solid as Russia’s capital city may quickly give way to other ways of understanding and experiencing space in Dostoevsky.
“The House on the Ditch with a Stairway to Heaven” – Katya Jordan, Brigham Young University
“Sacred Space in The Idiot: The Case of Alexandre Calame” – Amy Singleton Adams, College of the Holy Cross
“From Street Theatre to Dramatized Interiors: Performing Spaces in Crime and Punishment” – Sarah Jean Young, University College London
Discussant: Greta Nicole Matzner-Gore, University of Southern California
Saturday, December 8
Emotional and Physical Trauma in Dostoevsky
Sat, December 8, 3:30 to 5:15pm, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Grand Ballroom Salon I
“A Comparison of Dostoevsky’s Reported Medical Trauma Resulting from his Imprisonment with Those of Fellow Survivors of the Dead House” – Elizabeth Ann Blake, St. Louis University
“Performative Victimhood: The Right to Be Unhappy in Dostoevsky’s Idiot” – Milica Ilicic, Columbia University
“Stavrogin, the 1840s and 1860s, and the Non-Euclidian and its Limits in Dostoevsky” – Maxwell Parlin, Princeton University
Discussant: Brian R. Johnson, Macalester College
Sunday, December 9
The North American Dostoevsky Society: New Readings in Economic Criticism
Sun, December 9, 8:00 to 9:45am, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Grand Ballroom Salon I
These three papers offer stimulating new readings of economic factors in Dostoevsky’s novels, tightly embedding the theme in the writer’s complex poetics. The flow of money determines plot dynamics; conveys moral messages; throws characters of different social classes into connection and conflict; reflects rapidly changing realities in Russia during a time of economic and political reform; and undermines ostensibly neutral and rational systems of value by turning money into an artistic symbol fraught with danger. These readings offer a typology of economic elites in “The Idiot”; expose the speculator’s trading strategies in narrative in “The Adolescent”; and reveal money as the author’s most cherished generator of narrative interest over the sweep of his writing career.
“Becoming a Rothschild: Trading Narratives in Podrostok” – Jonathan Paine, University of Oxford
“The Tie that Breaks: Money and Plot from Poor Folk to The Brothers Karamazov” – Jillian Porter, University of Colorado
“Forms of Money and Narrative Form in The Idiot” – Vadim Shneyder, University of California, Los Angeles
Discussant: William Mills Todd III, Harvard University
The Interaction of Science and Literature: The Case of Fyodor Dostoevsky
Sun, December 9, 10:00 to 11:45am, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Grand Ballroom Salon I
Literary scholars have long explored the engagement between science and literature in the 19th century, not only on the level of theme but also through the shared use of metaphor, narrative structure, and plot. How do literature and science actually interact? Taking the example of Fyodor Dostoevsky, the panelists will trace different aspects of the novelist’s engagement with science at the time, focusing on the developments in Victorian physiological psychology, the adoption of Darwinian evolutionary plots and metaphors, the performance and spectacle of epileptic pathology, and Darwinian-inflected models for representing the workings of the brain.
“Mind and Material World: Dostoevsky and a Science of Realism” – Melissa Frazier, Sarah Lawrence College
“Performing Narratives of Illness: Dostoevsky’s Epileptics” – Brian R. Johnson, Macalester College
“Narrative and Science of the Brain: Dostoevsky’s Idiot” – Brian Egdorf, UC Berkeley
Discussant: Riccardo Nicolosi
Scripted Failures: Performance, Repetition, and Rupture in Dostoevsky, Turgenev, and Experimental Theater
Sun, December 9, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Grand Ballroom Salon I
This panel seeks to examine performative failure and interrupted communication by discussing attempts to communicate through temporal aporias, linguistic breakdown and repetition. The papers focus on the works of Dostoevsky and Turgenev, both in their 19th century context, as well as through later 20th-21st century theatrical performances. Monika Greenleaf’s paper analyzes the role of stuttering and repetition in Turgenev’s “Month in the Country” and two works by Dostoevsky to show that the texts constitute experiments in performative failure and prescient break-throughs in theatrical form, which thematize interrupted communication and contribute to their own postponed performances. Irina Erman’s paper traces a link between the excessive use of diminutives and repetition in Dostoevsky’s “Poor Folk” to the decomposition of language in “Bobok” to examine both texts as performative experiments in communication through failure. Anna Muza’s paper explores the performative treatment of Dostoevsky’s extreme, desperate emotionality and incoherent or inarticulate states – hysteria, hallucination, terror, nadryv – in the staging of “The Brothers Karamazov” (1910) and “The Possessed” (Nikolai Stavrogin, 1913) by the Moscow Art Theater.
“The Stutter of Time: Failed Plays and Postponed Performances” – Monika Greenleaf, Stanford University
“Diminution, Repetition, and Decomposition in Dostoevsky’s Poor Folk and ‘Bobok’” – Irina M. Erman, College of Charleston
“Ivan’s Nightmare, Hamlet’s Madness: The Performance of Rupture” – Anna Muza, UC Berkeley
Elena Glazov-Corrigan, Emory University
Alexander Mihailovic, Brown University
Panels Featuring One or More Papers on Dostoevsky
Thursday, December 6
Russian Fictional Responses to Darwin
Thu, December 6, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 1st, Columbus II
Several scholars have gathered for a project on the Russian Reception of Darwin. The plan is to produce a collection of translations of the most important responses to Darwin to be followed by a volume of essays. Two panels are being proposed for ASEEES 2018 as part of the project. This first panel focuses on fictional responses to Darwin.
“Beyond Social Darwinism: Positive Heroes’ Engagement with Science and Progress in Russian Conservative Novels of the 1860s-1870s” – Victoria Y. Thorstensson, Nazarbayev University
“Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and the Early Reception of Darwin in Russia: 1860-65” – James Frank Goodwin, University of Florida
“On Learned Neighbors and Philadelphia Naturalists: Mapping Chekhov’s Darwinist Parodies” – Melissa Lynn Miller, University of Notre Dame
Discussant: Yvonne Helen Howell, University of Richmond
The Performative Icons and the Arts
Thu, December 6, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Grand Ballroom Salon D
The work of Alexei Lidov defines “spatial” icons – including churches, sanctuaries, and cities – in terms of their performativity, which forms and describes the perception of the space as sacred. Lidov and other scholars like Boris Uspensky, Bissera Pentcheva, and Marie Gasper-Hulvat approach the performativity of icons through three dimensionality and movement through space and through the materiality of icons themselves. But does our understanding of the performative icon change when it is encountered in literature rather than in a three-dimensional space? This panel considers the performative icon in the context of literature and representational arts of the nineteenth century, the workings of the literary icon, and the meaning of its performativity to the work(s) themselves.
“Icon, Art, and Performance in the Works of Vsevolod Garshin” – Benjamin Jens, University of Arizona
“A Haymarket Khozhdenie na Osliati: Raskolnikov’s Donkey Walk and the Failure of Iconic Performativity” – Kathleen Scollins, University of Vermont
“How the Inmates’ Polyphonic Play in Dead House Performs the Nativity Icon” – Michael Mikailovitch Ossorgin VII, Fordham University
Discussant: Judith Deutsch Kornblatt, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Friday, December 7
Music and Theatricality in Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, and Kharms
Fri, December 7, 12:30 to 2:15pm, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 5th, Maine
“The Unsung Melody: Performance Practice in The Eternal Husband” – Eva Troje, Princeton University
“Towards the Sacred Banks of the Nile: Allusions to Verdi in Mikhail Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog, 1925” – David Gomiera Molina, University of Chicago
“Performing the Cupboard: Daniil Kharms and the Eroticisation of Opacity” – Mariia Semashyna, Central European University
Discussant: Emily Frey, Swarthmore College
Dostoevsky and Tolstoy Starting from Their Psychology
Fri, December 7, 4:30 to 6:15pm, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Grand Ballroom Salon I
This panel looks at the ethical consequences of Dostoevsky’s and Tolstoy’s visions of human psychology, with a view to bringing out the differences in their psychologies and ethics. Yet despite those differences, each writer’s vision of how people should live is not free-standing but depends on an anterior vision of how the human psyche is constructed. We therefore attempt to chart some of the connections between the shape of human nature and the shape of morality in the two bodies of fiction.
“Whose Unconscious is it?: The Role of Dreamlike Experiences in Dostoevsky’s Existential Moral Psychology” – Evgenia Cherkasova, Suffolk University
“Nihilism as Refuge: Rethinking the Philosophical Dostoevsky” – Yuri Corrigan, Boston University
“Tolstoy’s Three Ethical Systems” – David M.B.L. Herman, University of Virginia
Discussant: Irina Paperno, University of California, Berkeley
Saturday, December 8
Russian Dialogues with Critical Theory: Adorno, Arendt, and Russia
Sat, December 8, 8:00 to 9:45am, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Orleans
This panel explores affinities and points of dialogue between Russian culture and German philosophy of the twentieth century, building on the work of recent volumes such as Critical Theory in Russia and the West (BASEES/Routledge 2010) and Arendt and Adorno: Political and Philosophical Investigations (Stanford 2012). There has been a surge of interest in the philosophy of Hannah Ardent in Russia, where her ideas have emerged from the “zone of silence” in the Soviet Union to a central place in intellectual discourse today. Diana Gasparyan’s paper takes a key theme in the work of Arendt and the twentieth-century Russian-Georgian philosopher Merab Mamardashvili–the relationship between thinking and ethics—and shows that in studying this relationship, both writers recognize the necessity of clarifying the social and political nature of the individual, and the distinctiveness of the citizen. Svetlana Klimova shows that both Tolstoy and Arendt were building on the foundation of Kant’s philosophical anthropology; this common heritage, she argues, led them to identify a fundamental failure of thinking and judgment in their societies. For both, Klimova argues, the struggle against the dictatorial state turns out to be a struggle for the “Kantian” individual, capable of overcoming external and internal evil through reason and the moral law. In his paper, Brian Armstrong brings Dostoevsky’s familiar concerns with beauty and its socio-historical potential into dialogue with the explorations of beauty, the sublime, and their potential for social change in modernity in the work of Adorno, and behind him, Kant.
“Hannah Arendt and Merab Mamardashvili: On the Possibility of Political Judgement” – Diana Gasparyan, NRU Higher School of Economics
“The Philosophy of Evil in the Work of Lev Tolstoy and Hannah Arendt” – Svetlana Klimova, NRU Higher School of Economics
“Can Beauty Save the World?: Dostoevsky, Adorno, and the Challenges of the Beautiful and Sublime” – Brian Arthur Armstrong, Augusta University
Discussant: Susan McReynolds, Northwestern University
Rewriting the Russian Literary Canon in the 20th and 21st Centuries
Sat, December 8, 10:00 to 11:45am, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 5th, Connecticut
This panel puts diverse twentieth-century reinterpretations of nineteenth-century Russian literature in dialogue with one another in order to rethink the canon. Elizabeth Geballe reads Constance Garnett’s English translations of Dostoevsky’s passages about corpses as a form of rewriting. She demonstrates how the translations help to theorize and expose poetics already at work in Dostoevsky. Erica Drennan examines mock trial versions of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment that were performed in the 1920s and compares them to the original novel. She reads these performative reinterpretations in order to interrogate the role of the reader and the relationship between dialogue and authority in Dostoevsky’s novel. Sophie Pinkham’s paper shifts the focus from Dostoevsky to Pushkin. She argues that the recent “canonization” of Sergei Dovlatov, particularly in relation to his connection with Pushkin’s estate, reveals post-Soviet efforts to establish a sense of cultural continuity across the centuries. By connecting these different readings and rewritings of Dostoevsky and Pushkin, this panel examines how nineteenth-century works were appropriated and transformed in the twentieth century, and considers how these reinterpretations of the canon affect our understanding of both nineteenth and twentieth-century Russian literature.
“Unwanted Afterlives: Translating Dostoevsky’s Corpses” – Elizabeth Frances Geballe, Indiana University, Bloomington
“Performing Crime and Punishment: Raskolnikov on Trial” – Erica Stone Drennan, Columbia University
“Canonizing Dovlatov in Putin’s Russia” – Sophie Pinkham, Columbia University
Discussant: Milla (Lioudmila) Fedorova, Georgetown University
Cognitive Perspectives on Classic Russian Prose (Roundtable)
Sat, December 8, 10:00 to 11:45am, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Grand Ballroom Salon I
Our roundtable will consider the bilateral study of Russian prose and cognitive science. On the one hand, recent discoveries in the functions of the mind point out how writers like Dostoevsky, Nabokov and Tolstaya exploit deep-set mental proclivities. On the other, sensitive readings of their prose works not only tests received science, they may also indicate directions for further clinical inquiry. Madelyn Stuart will apply blending theory and neurological memory work to Nabokov’s early short stories and novellas. Katherina B. Kokinova asks to what extent the collaboration of cognitive narratology and reception theory can unravel the mirroring cyclic recurrence of rereading and narrating in Nabokov’s “The Circle.” According to Amina Gabrielova, characters in Tatiana Tolstaya’s stories often make sense of the surrounding world by interpreting sounds, or by hearing; she will ponder the cognitive differences between visual and auditory perception. Examining the public circumstances of Raskolnikov’s confession in Crime and Punishment, Tom Dolack suggests that conscience conveys prosociality in individual consciousness. Looking at narrative innovations in that same Dostoevsky novel, Brett Cooke wonders what role classic prose plays in the development of our cognitive potential. Inasmuch as we will be discussing shared human capabilities, an important question for our ending discussion will be to what extent cognitive findings with one writer can be exported to the study of another.
Brett Cooke, Texas A&M University
Tom Dolack, Wheaton College
Amina Gabrielova, Purdue University
Madelyn Stuart, University of Virginia
Crime, Punishment, and Bureaucracy: Dostoevsky, Saltykov-Shchedrin, and Early Russian Crime Fiction
Sat, December 8, 1:30 to 3:15pm, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 3rd, Arlington
“Dostoevsky’s Adventure in the French Language (1880-1930)” – Svetlana Cecovic, NRU Higher School of Economics
“Bureaucratic Mythologies: Folktale as Critique in Gospoda Golovlevy” – Michaela Telfer, University of Southern California
“Performing Criminal Investigations: Scenes of Confrontation and Interrogation in Late Imperial Russian Crime Fiction” – Claire Whitehead, University of St. Andrews
Discussant: Irina Reyfman, Columbia University
Folklore and Performance
Sat, December 8, 1:30 to 3:15pm, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Grand Ballroom Salon A
The three papers in this panel pose questions about performative folk genres in Russian literature and culture: songs and food. Oxana Vorobyova’s “The Study of Folklore in the “Russkoe slovo” Magazine: Performing Identity” presents fragments of folklore, found in different materials of the “Russkoe slovo” magazine, for example, the sad folk song “Na gore-gore tatar’yo stoit.” The author aims to determine the region, approximate time of origin, and the performer of fragments of folklore by context. In “Enacting the Folk Song in Dostoevsky’s “Akulka’s Husband:” Comic and Tragic Texts,” Cecilia Dilworth argues that the pattern of a comic folk song about cuckoldry is grafted onto the events related, skewering the perception of actors, narrator and audience, and moving the story towards its catastrophic conclusion. She notes that “Akulka’s Husband” also analyzes how draws on a different, tragic folkloric genre – the Russian folk ballad—and that piecing together motifs from a number of classic ballad plots centered on the act of wife murder, Dostoevsky creates a “ballad in prose.” She analyzes how comic and tragic trajectories of the two genres intersect and clash, the former partly functioning as a catalyst for the latter. In her paper, “Ritual, Recipe, Representation (or From Ritual to Recipe ): About Carrying On Culinary Traditions,” Amina Gabrielov approaches culinary recipe description and propagation through the theoretical background of Olga Freidenberg theories of folklore and of food and ritual as source of genres. She will also incorporate Sergei Nekludov’s ideas of folkloric genres.
“The Study of Folklore in the Russkoe Slovo Magazine: Performing Identity” – Oxana Vorobyova, Lomonosov Moscow State University
“Enacting the Folk Song in Dostoevsky’s “Akulka’s Husband”: Coming and Tragic Texts” – Cecilia Dilworth, Stockholm University
“Ritual, Recipe, Representation (of From Ritual to Recipe): About Carrying on Culinary Traditions” – Amina Gabrielova, Purdue University
Discussant: Viktoria Bashman, Hampden-Sydney College
Sunday, December 9
Internal Colonization: Gogol, Dostoevsky, and Hemlin
Sun, December 9, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 1st, Boylston
The panel explores Alexander Etkind’s concept of “internal colonization” and Martin Buber’s notion of “I and thou” as essential for understanding both colonial and post-colonial relationships. The three papers examine how authors position themselves towards the “other” in a colonial, post-colonial, and philosophical sense through examinations of the works of Gogol, Dostoevsky, and Hemlin. Nadja Berkovich’s paper investigates Dostoevsky’s position towards the colonial “other” through his relationship with two prominent ethnographers of his time, Petr Semenov Tian-Shanskii and Chokan Valikhanov, in light of Buber’s and Bakhtin’s theories of dialogue, as well by viewing his novel The Notes from the House of the Dead as an example of the “imperial imaginary.” Alexander Droznin’s paper engages with Bakhtin’s and Buber’s reading of Gogol’s Dead Souls and Inspector General, whose main picaresque characters exemplify both a homo interior and a homo exterior. Yuliya Minkova’s paper addresses the plot of internal colonization in Margarita Hemlin’s novel Doznavatel’ which presents an opportunity to discuss the issue of otherness in both historical and contemporary contexts.
“The Imperial Imaginary in Dostoevsky” – Nadja Berkovich, University of Arkansas
“Participation and Experience: Martin Buber’s Intersubjectivity and the Gogolian Picaresque” – Alexander Droznin, Harvard University
“The Vagaries of Internal Colonization in Margarita Hemlin’s Doznavatel’” – Yuliya Minkova, Virginia Tech
Discussant: Taras Koznarsky, University of Toronto
With thanks to Vadim Shneyder, Assistant Professor at UCLA, for compiling the list!