Dostoevsky papers and events at ASEEES 2020

The Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies is holding its 52nd annual convention virtually, November 5-8 and 14-15. It may be online, but it has its usual rich offerings 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’s works or legacy feature prominently in at least one presentation. We hope you can join us on Zoom to hear about the fruits of another year’s work on Dostoevsky!

Our annual NADS panel is taking place on Sat, Nov 14 at 2pm. The theme this year is “Reading Dostoevsky” and our thanks go to Greta Matzner-Gore who organized it! More details below.

Panels with a Principal Focus on Dostoevsky

Thurs, November 5, 4:00 to 5:30pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 12

Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and the Literary Modeling of the Unconscious

Literary scholars like to point that psychology, before it became an autonomous discipline, was practiced by philosophers and novelists, who focused on the notion of the unconscious. Arguably, few novelists have been as intensely involved with exploring the hidden workings of the mind as Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. This panel presents an on-going collective project tracing the unconscious mind in narrative techniques, character interaction, spatial configuration, mise-en-scène, language, and more. The three papers offer different approaches to the issue: the mapping of the psyche in the texture of Dostoevsky’s novels, positioned to compete with scientific psychology (Yuri Corrigan); the intersections between literature and the contemporary medical-scientific research into “unconscious cerebration” (Brian Egdorf); and the engagement with the concept of the unconscious in the genesis of the text, examined from the multiple drafts of Anna Karenina (Mikhail Dolbilov). The chair/discussant (Irina Paperno) will frame these diverse efforts as a part of a common project. The second discussant (Alexander Spektor) brings a voice from outside.

Chair: Irina Paperno, University of California, Berkeley

Dostoevsky vs. Freud on the Geographies of the Unconscious, Yuri Corrigan, Boston University

The Idiot, Anna Karenina, and the Science of ‘Unconscious Cerebration.’ Brian Egdorf, UC Berkeley

‘B холодном и жестоком, пронзительном свете’: The Unconscious in the Genesis of Anna Karenina’s Text, Mikhail Dolbilov, University of Maryland, College Park

Discussants: Irina Paperno, UC Berkeley, Alex Spektor, U of Georgia

Fri, November 6, 4:00 to 5:30pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 22

Spiritual Rebellions: Dostoevsky’s (Un)Orthodox Religiosities

“Something new and better,” writes Dostoevsky in “A Writer’s Diary,” “will be realized not through war and rebellion but, once more, through a grand and universal consent.” Dostoevsky opposed civil unrest and feared the bloodshed of revolts, but his own literary canvas foregrounds tensions between character types that range from meek altruists to rebellious anarchists. Christian faith permeated Dostoevsky’s worldview, informing his positions on sociopolitical as well as literary matters. This panel explores the multi-faceted ways in which the author uses faith as a tool of resistance and rebellion – both within his literary worlds, and as a commentary on contemporary Russian reality. Arpi Movsesian draws attention to Dostoevsky’s use of “holy foolishness” in “Crime and Punishment” as a tool of spiritual rebellion against the socialist utopias promised by the Russian radical intelligentsia of his time; Riley Ossorgin highlights the function of compassion as resistance to power in “The Brothers Karamazov;” and Milica Iličić discusses the importance of Ivan Karamazov’s embodiment and vitality over discourse for experiencing true belief.

Chair: Elaine Wilson, Columbia University

Anxious Vitalism and the Religious Impulse in Ivan Karamazov’s Rebellion, Milica Iličić, Columbia University

Pagan Rebellion Against the Man-god in ‘Crime and Punishment’, Arvi Movsesian, UC Santa Barbara

Jesus’s Rebellious Kiss: Compassion as Rebellion in ‘The Brothers Karamazov,’ Michael Mikhailovitch Ossorgin VIII, Fordham University

Discussant: Carol Apollonio, Duke University

Sat, November 7, 2:00 to 3:30 pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 7

Metaphysical Rebellion in Dostoevsky and Beyond

In his seminal essay The Rebel (1951), Albert Camus has defined metaphysical rebellion as “the movement by which man protests against his condition and against the whole of creation.” Referring to Dostoevsky’s Ivan Karamazov as a perfect example of such a movement, Camus has also pointed out the writer’s prophecy about how metaphysical rebellion, originally demanding universal justice, eventually leads one to the justification of totalitarianism and oppression. Revisiting Camus’ original conception of it, the four papers on this panel seek to elucidate new facets of metaphysical rebellion in Dostoevsky and beyond, focusing on such aspects of the “whole of creation” (scarcely addressed by Camus) as animals and plants, as well as the human body. Zora Kadyrbekova will examine dog Zhuchka’s place in the questions of faith and evil, raised by Ivan Karamazov; Benjamin Jens will explore the role of plants and plant life in shaping attitudes towards rebellion, morality, and the understanding of sentience in The Brothers Karamazov and the works of Vsevolod Garshin; Vladimir Ivantsov will look at how in Notes from Underground the body and its parts become metaphors for the protagonist’s spiritual condition only to suppress his being at odds with the fact of his physical existence; and Julianna Leachman will argue that Dostoevsky utilizes confrontations with physical death to protest the death-in-life so prevalent in humankind and to affirm, instead, metaphysical human solidarity.

Chair: Susan McReynolds, Northwestern University

“My Liver Hurts, Then Let it Hurt Even Worse!” The (Meta)Physical Rebellion of the Underground Man, Vladimir Ivantsov, Oberlin College

Botanical Rebellions: Plants in Dostoevsky and Garshin, Benjamin Jens, University of Arizona

Why did Zhuchka have to Die? Zora Kadyrbekova, McGill University

One Man Walks into a Funeral: Rebelling against Death and Redeeming Life with Dostoevsky, Julianna Leachman, Houston Baptist University

Discussant: Brian Armstrong, Augusta University

Sat, November 14, 12:00 to 1:30 pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 19

Under, Metaphorically

This panel is one of a series of two, which asks the question: what can we learn from considering what is “under”? This panel, “Under, Metaphorically,” draws on the rich tradition of Russian writing that combines “underground” with political rebellion and temporal alternatives, papers will explore nineteenth- and twenty first-century texts that use under as a key symbol, focusing on events such as the emancipation of the serfs, political terrorism, and Russia’s place within its own imagined historical mythology. The panel seeks to open a discussion about “underground” that goes beyond Dostoevsky’s existential Notes from Underground or the revolutionary underground made famous in political fiction of the later nineteenth century. How do the political, historical, and temporal intersect in metaphorical depictions of underground and what anxieties about Russia’s role in historical narrative does analyzing these depictions unearth?

Chair: Alec Brookes, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada)

Death and Resurrection in Russian Emancipation Poetry and Journalism, Cecilia Dilworth, Stockholm University (Sweden)

The Underground Bell that Shakes Up Russia: Eurasianist Mysticism in Pavel Krusanov’s Bom Bom, Tatiana Filimonova, College of Wooster

Road, River, and Book: The Russian Literary Underworld, Barbara Henry, University of Washington

The Non-Simultaneity of Russian Modernity in Dostoevsky’s Demons, Kate Holland, University of Toronto

Discussant: Claire Whitehead, University of St. Andrews (UK)

Sat, November 14, 2:00 to 3:30 pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 12

Dostoevsky and Philosophy: Kierkegaard

In 2002, James Scanlan wrote that the “idea of treating a great writer as a philosopher will be unsettling to both writers and philosophers.” It may seem that such “philosophical ghostwriting,” as Scanlan describes it, will do injustice to the literary text; it may also seem that such ghostwriting will fail to be philosophically rigorous. Nonetheless, the influence of philosophy on Dostoevsky and of Dostoevsky on philosophy remains. This panel – the fifth in a series that began in 2014 – aims to further investigate those influences in an attempt to do justice to both Dostoevsky’s thought and writing. This year, the panelists will focus on Dostoevsky in relation to Kierkegaard.

Chair: Vladimir Ivantsov, Oberlin College

Интрига душила меня: The Anxiety of Reason/The Reason of Anxiety in Dostoevsky’s Podrostok, Brian Armstrong, Augusta University

Kierkegaard and Crime and Punishment, Susan McReynolds, Northwestern University

Discussant: Victoria Juharyan, Middlebury College

Sat, November 14, 4:00 to 5:30 pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 11

Questions of Psychology in Dostoevsky

Chair: Benjamin Jens, University of Arizona

The Line Between Good and Evil in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, Octavian Gabor, Methodist College

Nietzsche and Dostoevsky: The Psychology of Debt

Discussant: Benjamin Jens, University of Arizona

Sat, November 14, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 10

North American Dostoevsky Society: Reading Dostoevsky

This panel, sponsored by the North American Dostoevsky Society, showcases the work of three emerging scholars, each of whom brings a new theoretical perspective to bear on an old topic: the reception of Dostoevsky’s works. In a paper comparing the 1846 and 1866 versions of The Double, Jonathan Paine investigates Dostoevsky’s approach to the challenges of authorship and how it changed over time. As Paine argues, The Double is not only a text about an out-of-control character; it is also a text that experiments with authorial control and the manipulation of reader response. Irina Erman argues that the motif of illness runs throughout Crime and Punishment and accompanies key developments and themes to such an extent that the novel merits a reading as a pandemic narrative. Erman analyzes the way that Dostoevsky mixes metaphors of biological and ideological infection to diagnose ailments that plague us to this day. Chloë Kitzinger traces a particular tradition of readings of Dostoevsky back to Symbolist criticism. Asking why early 20th-century theorists were invested in the image of Dostoevsky’s characters as “rebellious” or self-authored, she examines how this way of reading Dostoevsky intersects with widespread ideas about the novel in our own day. Taken together, these three papers represent some of the most exciting new research on Dostoevsky that is being conducted in the English-speaking world today.

Chair: Irina Reyfman, Columbia University

The Trace of Dostoevsky’s Dead House in Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata, Irina Erman, College of Charleston

Dostoevsky and the Idea of the Novel, Chloe Kitzinger, Rutgers, the University of New Jersey

Double Vision: Dostoevsky and Authorship, Jonathan Paine, University of Oxford (UK)

Discussant: Robin Feuer Miller, Brandeis University; Yuri Corrigan, Boston University

Individual Papers on Dostoevsky

Thurs Nov 5, 2:00-3:30 pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 16

Davaite iurodstvovat’: The Holy Fool and the Eccentric in Slavic Literatures, 1860-1930

Paper: Beyond Madness: The Eccentricities of Dostoevsky’s Holy Fools, Meital Orr, Georgetown University

Unlike the folkloric-based Slavic literature before him, Dostoevsky’s recurring use of the holy fool often presents this type with eccentric views that are pantheistic and even pagan, schismatic and even epileptic – broadening and deepening the character in unprecedented ways. Dostoevsky’s transformation of this type, in his usual dialogic way, allowed subsequent Slavic literary depictions to exchange a relatively simplistic, folkloric or romantic understanding of the holy fool, for the psychological realism which could produce eccentricities that heighten both the rebellion and the anxiety inherent in this figure.

Fri Nov 6, 4:00-5:30 pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 20

The Politics and Aesthetics of Late Imperial Theater: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov

Re-writing Dostoevsky: Late-imperial Adaptations of The Idiot and Crime and Punishment, Lindsay Marie Ceballos, Lafayette College

This paper looks at the political stakes of late-imperial adaptations of Dostoevsky’s novels as social dramas. Based on archival research on extant scripts and production history, I argue that the playwrights’ adjustments to plot and characterization in adaptations of Crime and Punishment (1899) and The Idiot (1900) reflect the broader problems of Dostoevsky reception of the time. The adaptations examined in this paper demonstrate how adapters negotiated censorial barriers while attempting to achieve a secular assimilation of Dostoevsky’s religious philosophy into more moderate forms of political engagement.

Fri Nov 6, 4:00-5:30 pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 21

Three Nineteenth-Century Women Novelists and Dostoevsky’s Raptures

Paper, ‘I Am in Raptures over Evgeniia Tur:’ Tur and Dostoevsky, Svetlana Slavskaya Grenier, Georgetown University

Dostoevsky declared his admiration for Evgeniia Tur in an 1854 letter to his brother. What aspects of Tur’s work provoked Dostoevsky’s response? Grenier’s paper will explore the literary relationship between the two authors, examining certain motifs from Tur’s A Mistake and The Niece in Dostoevsky, as well as Tur’s reaction to Dostoevsky’s work in her review of The Humiliated and the Injured.

Sat Nov 7, 8:00-9:30 pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 7

Literary Translation from Russian in a Global Context

Paper, Houses of the Dead: Dostoevsky in Irish Literature, Muireann Maguire, University of Exeter

The Irish-language novelist and Celtic Languages scholar Mairtin O Cadhain (1906-1970) was also an admirer of and authority upon Russian literature. As a young man, he discovered the fiction of Gorky and Chekhov; he claimed to have read Dostoevsky’s House of the Dead (1862) three times ‘for personal reasons’. The book became a landmark in his intellectual development. Both writers suffered five years’ incarceration for their political opinions; O Cathain specifically likens his internment experience to Dostoevsky’s Siberian imprisonment. Dostoevsky’s greatest gift to the Irish writer, however, related to subject and style. O Cathain’s modernist masterpiece, Cré na Cille, published in 1949, is set in a Connemara graveyard and consists almost entirely of conversation between the newly buried dead, who contend for social dominance – even holding underground elections – and endlessly discuss their lives’ triumphs and disappointments, without the least sign of remorse or humility. This polyphonic and carnivalesque approach hardly needs any attribution; it is Dostoevsky filtered into a rich, inventive (and long considered untranslatable) vein of Connemara Irish. Moreover, O Cathain’s choice of the irreverent and unrepentant dead as narrators clearly owes a lot to Dostoevsky’s 1873 short story Bobok, although he claimed that it was inspired by a real-life. Whatever the truth, the fact remains that the most widely read twentieth-century Irish language novel is at many levels a borrowing from one of the greatest Russian writers: in other words, modern Irish literature has also sneaked out from under Gogol’s overcoat.

Paper, Scandalous Homage: E.-M. de Vogüé’s ‘Translation’ of Dostoevsky, Elizabeth Frances Geballe, Indiana University, Bloomington

Eugène-Melchior de Vogüé’s Le Roman Russe (The Russian Novel), published in 1886, famously embraced the Russian novelistic tradition, creating a backlash against French naturalism and further inciting Western Europe’s Russomania. In this paper, I will consider primarily de Vogüé’s reception of Dostoevsky in his chapter entitled “La Religion de la Souffrance—Dostoievsky” (“The Religion of Suffering—Dostoevsky”). Drawing from a combination of de Vogüé’s idiosyncratic readings of Dostoevsky’s major novels, his diagnoses of Dostoevsky’s physiological states, and his conception of realist art, I will explore how Dostoevsky’s reception in France—and by extension the other countries in which Le Roman Russe was immediately translated—was predicated upon a profound mistrust of the process of literary importation more broadly. With particular attention to the way in which the idea of translation, of Dostoevsky’s language but also his characters and ethics, is undermined, I will ultimately suggest that de Vogüé performs with his reading what Dostoevsky’s Russian followers realized in person: a “scandalous homage.”

Sun Nov 15, 12:00-1:30 pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 1

Out of the Darkroom: New Perspectives on Anxieties and Rebellion in the History of Photography in the Soviet Union

Paper, Leonid Tsypkin as Photographer of Dostoevsky’s Petersburg, Brett Roark Winestock, Stanford University

When Leonid Tsypkin’s novel Summer in Baden-Baden was published in a New York émigré journal in 1982, it was side by side with several of the author’s photographs. This ‘uncensored’ writer was also an avid amateur photographer, and as his novel engages in a dialogue with Dostoevsky, so do his photos: they are all urban photos from locations around Leningrad connected with Dostoevsky’s life and fiction. Having compared Tsypkin’s published and exhibited photos with the unpublished ones found in his archive, I have determined that it was his artistic intent to photograph these locations as devoid of signs of modern life as was possible, and therefore I read Tsypkin’s photography as a manifestation of the Petersburg Text and place it in the historical context of Leningrad photography of the 1960s-early 1980s, which emphasized the city’s timelessness.

Many thanks to Kate Holland who prepared this list!

2 thoughts

  1. What timezone will the events be held in (specifically the ones on 14th November)? Eastern Standard time? Pacific Standard Time? Writing in from India 🙂


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