Live Tweets from the XVII International Dostoevsky Symposium

by Vladimir Ivantsov

Below are summaries of selected papers. These summaries are based on live tweets from the IDS 2019 conference and only partially reflect the content of the papers delivered. All the tweets were collected from the hashtag #ids2019, with thanks to prolific conference livetweeters Dr Katia Bowers (on the Society account @DostoevskySoc) and Dr Brian Armstrong (tweeting on his personal account @wittstrong).

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Robin Miller and her Double!

Robin Miller gave a wonderful keynote on “Dostoevsky Writ Small.” (She was the first speaker of the first plenary session). Miller: The “raw life” of the animals, large and small, come to represent “the totality of the universe.” In The Brothers Karamazov “each small thing opens a portal … that creates an aura of the mystical, the fantastic,” into the whole of the universe … “these are the building blocks of Dostoevsky’s fantastic realism.”

Related to Miller’s talk was Zora Kadyrbekova’s paper on animal studies approach to The Idiot. She has argued that animals in the novel help lead or illuminate key themes in the novel and reveal or clarify a character’s moral/spiritual standing. Kadyrbekova: by calling a donkey a human Dostoevsky does not challenge the donkey’s species identity, rather he elevates that donkey to the level of a human, both capable of kindness and selfless service. Dostoevsky does not let the animal’s utility in the novel overtake their animalness, he respects animals’ subjectivity.

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Bakhtin on Love, from Emerson’s slide

Caryl Emerson’s keynote entitled “Bakhtin’s Dostoevsky and the Burden of Virtues” reconsidered the reading of Bakhtin in the Creation of a Prosaics book (co-authored by Emerson and Morson) predicated on Bakhtin’s theoretical understanding of the grace virtues faith, hope and love.

In his keynote, Vladimir Zakharov discussed the beautiful digitization project of Dostoevsky’s notebooks and manuscripts that is underway right now (you can check it out here: http://dostoevsky-archive.ru). Zakharov shares the great resource site from Petrozavodsk State University that has the digitized corpus of the Dostoevskys (not just FMD but also his brother, wife, daughter, etc.) as well as other Russian writers: http://philolog.petrsu.ru.

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Vladimir Zakharov’s keynote

In her paper “Metaphors in the House of the Dead and the Discourse of Peasant Liberation,” Cecilia Dilworth, drawing on Paperno, has made the point that the discourse around emancipation is characterized by particular narrative markers, including Christian imagery and resurrection from the dead. The emancipation language of resurrection did not just apply to the serfs being freed from slavery, but also to the Russian nation being freed from the barbarism of the past; and Notes from the House of the Dead should be read in this context, against the backdrop of emancipation discourse and its contemporaneous Russian cultural context.

Greta Matzner-Gore spoke on “Dostoevsky’s Poetics of Improbability and the Ending of Crime and Punishment.” Matzner-Gore: “the language and logic of statistical theory plays a significant role in the poetics of Crime and Punishment.” Greta has claimed that Dostoevsky chose so many coincidences precisely because they violated statisticians’ norms and laws. Hence, the controversial epilogue of Crime and Punishment does accord with the novel’s aesthetic structure because of its improbability.

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Satoshi Bamba’s paper

Satoshi Bamba’s paper placed the faces of The Idiot in the context of the physiognomic tradition. As Bamba observed, Bakhtin claims that Dostoevsky began not with ideas but with idea-heroes of dialogue (with voices), but we might add he also began with idea-faces.

Bilal Siddiqi spoke on “Materiality in The Idiot and Brothers Karamazov.” Siddiqi: Ivan Karamazov’s slipping away of reality is described through objects that are immaterial, imagined everyday objects. The breaking, missing, failure of everyday objects precisely by virtue of their everydayness signals to Ivan that he is losing his grasp on reality. The obtrusive object can be a source for awakening future events in Myshkin; examples: the pistol, the Chinese vase, and the knife. These objects and their function suggest that Dostoevsky is weaving into that novel a premonitory Myshkin who can see the future to some extent. Does this mean Myshkin carries with him an ability to see an unknown future truth? Perhaps.

For the full twitter narrative, click here. This Wakelet was created by Katia Bowers.


Vladimir Ivantsov is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian at Williams College. His research interests include Dostoevsky, his perception in Russian and world culture, and literature and philosophy (especially existentialism and posthumanist criticism). He is a member of the North American Dostoevsky Society Readers Advisory Board.

Reflections on the XVII International Dostoevsky Symposium

compiled by Vladimir Ivantsov and Katya Jordan

The XVII International Dostoevsky Symposium took place at Boston University in July 2019. The Symposium is the triennial meeting of the International Dostoevsky Society; scholars gathered from all over the world for 5 days of papers and discussions of all aspects of Dostoevsky’s works. More information about the XVII Symposium can be found here and you can view the program here.

Here are some reflections collected from participants of the XVII Symposium:

Thanks to the two Russian museums that provided the exhibition. Feinberg’s colourful breakfast scene (1948) could be a Hollywood design for Little Women or Washington Square (no harm in that), while recent artists (Guriev and Zykina) envision Myshkin as a Byzantine Christ and St Petersburg as the desert of temptation. Khruslov’s shimmering Myshkin dominates Rogozhin like a powerful resurrection figure. From now on, Nastasya Fillipovna is Vil’ner’s proud, defiant, child! Thanks again.

– George Pattison

 

A luminous gathering, evidence that Bakhtin was right (!) — those who learn their basic vocabulary from great literature will never be entirely without hope or the ability to express it.   A huge thanks to the tireless organizers.

– Caryl Emerson

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An impromptu toast to Vladimir Zakharov during the opening remarks

This was the most intellectually stimulating Symposium I have ever attended. The plenary talks demonstrated the full range of possibilities for Dostoevsky scholarship: meticulous analysis of drafts; engagement both with the great moral questions and with the tiny detail; digital publication and textual analysis; the writer’s biography; the problem of paradox. The talks about digital analysis reminded me of how much fun this can be, and how much potential it offers for future readings.  And I am in awe of the resources that our Russian colleagues have posted online.

The book presentations were memorable—the authors had to talk extremely fast to share over twenty books within one short hour. Everyone left Thursday’s session smiling, in a congratulatory mood and with a long reading list. As is often the case, the most exciting parts of the Symposium were those animated exchanges during the question-and-answer period and the longer, deeper conversations that they led to.

Tuesday’s plenary session featuring Caryl Emerson and Gary Saul Morson made me recall why I chose to study Dostoevsky, and inspired me to keep on reading, thinking, and talking to people about his works. Well actually, when I think about it, everyone did that. Fortunately, it is a job that will never be done.

– Carol Apollonio

 

The six days with colleagues in Boston have been fabulous; It is difficult to put hierarchy among so many good things that we have experienced during the days of the conference: conversations between us, presentations, smiles of complicity, toasts, good food, pub, Alumni Boston University castle the first evening, our last night in the restaurant on the top of the hub with all so radiant faces … And then Museum Of Fine Arts -Egypt, China, Renaissance, Impressionists, and even a corner with an entire chapel of Catalan Romanesque. My heart still vibrates from all these lovely impressions. Thank you for everything and CONGRATULATIONS for such a wonderful organization.

Warmly,

~ Tamara Djermanovic

 

Besides all those wonderful sessions and events, I would like to mention our tour to the MFA Boston. I was astonished not only by its wonderful collection of European art, but also by its terrific Asian collection, which is competable with Chinese national museums. I want to thank all colleagues, who organized this tour, and especially Anna Weinstein, who answered so many our random questions on our way there (cf. Sergey Kibal’nik’s anecdote about the drowning boy at the closing banquet).

Best regards,

~Xuyang Mi (Сюйян Ми)

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Robin Feuer Miller introduces a panel thinking about economics in Dostoevsky’s works: Vadim Shneyder, Jillian Porter, Jonathan Paine and discussant William Mills Todd, III

I would like to single out a particularly interesting paper I heard during Session 3A: Dostoevsky the Thinker (unfortunately I missed the first two presenters). Olena Bystrova of the Drohobych Ivan Franko State Pedagogical University gave a paper titled “‘На мгновение’ и ‘вдруг’ как слова-фиксаторы фотографического мышления Ф. Достоевского” [“For an Instant” and “suddenly” as Fixer Words in Dostoevsky’s Photographic Thought]. Dr. Bystrova prefaced her paper with a brief presentation about the city of Drohobych in Ukrainian Galicia near the Polish border, in which she discussed the city’s multiethnic and multiconfessional history and its traditional economic basis in salt production (the name of the region of Galicia may come from the Greek word for salt–halas). Among the famous people who called Drohobych home were the Polish Jewish writer Bruno Schulz and the Ukrainian poet Ivan Franko.

The main argument of Bystrova’s paper was that Dostoevsky’s responded to photography in his techniques for representing vision and time. To develop her concept of photographic thinking, Bystrova drew on the ideas of the Ukrainian poet and critic Maik Iohansen (1895–1937), who argued that the significance of photography lay in its capacity to fix an instantaneous moment in time.

Decades before Iohansen, Dostoevsky showed an interest in the capacity of the photograph to capture what is hidden, unnoticed, and momentary. At the same time, Dostoevsky contrasted the rarity with which a photograph—a fundamentally analytical technique—managed to capture a realistic likeness to the work of representational art, which could synthesize from a mass of impressions to reveal the truth of the whole.

Describing the scene in The Idiot where Myshkin breaks the Chinese vase, Bystrova claimed that Dostoevsky’s narrative technique consists of a series of verbal snapshots, sometimes tellingly divided by ellipses. Both “Suddenly” and “for a moment” are lexical markers of Dostoevsky’s photographic thinking according to Bystrova: “suddenly” marks the succession of individual photographic images, while the intermittent stillness of “for a moment” refers to the photograph’s capacity to fix an individual moment in time and break it out of the continuum of duration.

I thought this was a thought-provoking and compelling argument that demonstrated the sensitivity of Dostoevsky’s poetics to the most variegated historical developments.

Best,

~ Vadim Shneyder

 

At the opening reception, Bill Todd reflected with Gary Saul Morson on his review (nearly four decades ago) of two seminal monographs in the history of Dostoevsky scholarship: Gary Saul Morson’s own The Boundaries of Genre: Dostoevsky’s Diary of a Writer and the Traditions of Literary Utopia (from U of Texas P in 1981) and Robin Feuer Miller’s Dostoevsky and The Idiot: Author, Narrator, and Reader (from Harvard UP in 1981). It’s amazing to think of the sustained engagement with Dostoevsky’s work and with each other’s work that they and many other scholars exhibit; it’s also an excellent source of inspiration. 

~ Brian Armstrong

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Armstrong’s photo of Morson and Todd in discussion

I was particularly moved by Professor Caryl Emerson’s keynote address. With her customary eloquence and grace, Caryl offered generous reflections on Bakhtin, virtue, and that difficult and necessary attitude toward love espoused by Dostoevsky’s Zosima—деятельная любовь. Caryl reminds us that dialogue requires patience, and her carefully measured words encourage us to “slow down to better see what’s there.” In times of unchecked aggression and unbridled violence, Caryl’s wisdom remains balm for the living.

~ Justin Trifiro

 

The International Dostoevsky Symposium in Boston was one of the great joys of the summer. Thanks to all who made it such a success. I learned much from each presentation. I was especially intrigued by Anna Bermans’s insight into the paucity of descendants in Dostoevsky’s fiction. Yet I couldn’t help thinking of a wonderfully imaginative and moving poem by Robert Hass in which he imagines “the great-grandson / Of the elder Karamazov brother who fled to the Middle West / With his girlfriend Grushenka.” The poem is entitled, “I Am Your Waiter Tonight and My Name is Dmitri.”

You can hear Hass read the poem here.  And can read the poem here.

~ Paul Contino

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Old and New Presidents of the International Dostoevsky Society: Vladimir Zakharov and Carol Apollonio

Я совершенно согласен с теми словами, которые произнёс Вильям Тодд в завершающий день Симпозиума: из всех прошедших именно этот отличался наиболее высоким научным уровнем. Я был впечатлен и докладами высокого научного уровня, и острыми, но благожелательными дискуссиями, и самой замечательной интеллектуальной атмосферой в Бостоне, которая сопровождала все дни конференции. Особо же мне хотелось поблагодарить Кэрол Аполлонио, за очень деятельную помощь и Юрия Корригана, который очень чутко откликался на пожелания (в том числе, технического характера), как и в целом американских коллег за проявленное ими замечательное гостеприимство. Было бы очень хорошо издать (в том числе, и в «устаревающем» бумажном формате) хотя бы избранные материалы этого Симпозиума.

~ Иван Есаулов (Москва)

 

ХVІІ Конгресс IDS был третьим форумом (после Неаполя и Гранады), на котором я присутствовал.

Могу с уверенностью сказать, что организация, выбор докладов и сопутствующая программа были безупречны.

Я чрезвычайно горжусь и доволен возможностью общения с представителями американской русистики и русской достоевистики. Я знал многих из них раньше, но познакомился с некоторыми из моих коллег сейчас.

Я искренне надеюсь, что наши встречи и сотрудничество продолжатся. Спасибо всем!

С уважением,

~ Проф. д-р Людмил Димитров (София)

Presenters (clockwise from top left): Denis Zhernokleyev, Benamí Barros
Garcia, Zora Kadyrbekova, Bilal Siddiqi, Katya Jordan

 

17 симпозиум IDS был замечательно организован, царила тёплая атмосфера дружбы и любви. Именно такие взаимоотношения между людьми проповедовал Достоевский. Их выразил и тост на прощальном банкете – «За любовь!».

Хорошо то, что каждый день начинался с пленарных заседаний: можно было прослушать много докладов ведущих достоеведов. Особенно понравились доклады Р. Фойер Миллер, К. Эмерсон, В. Захарова, Б.Тихомирова, Ю. Корригана, С. Алое, К. Аполлонио, Б. Барроса.

Очень понравились экскурсии.

Такие встречи вдохновляют на новые творческие достижения и открытия.

~ Галина Федянова, Тамара Баталова

 

Дорогие коллеги!

Бостонская конференция была действительно прекрасной, рабочей и дружеской. Программа была замечательной и секции организованны очень хорошо. Нам, конечно, открылась возможность поговорить со старыми знакомыми и, одновременно, познакомится с новыми коллегами. Техническая поддержка была на высоком уровне (напитки, еда, Интернет связь, экскурсия, музей и проч.). Новое прочтение романа «Идиот» показалось плодотворным (разные взгляды на один роман или на одну тему – это и есть суть симпозиума!). Мне очень понравились дискуссии, которые велись после каждого доклада, а общения и комментарии к докладам не раз продолжались в течение обеда и кофе брейка.

Спасибо организаторам!

~ Ясмина Войводич

 

More presenters (clockwise from top left): Deborah Martinsen, Greta
Matzner-Gore, Justin Trifiro, Sarah Hudspith, Cecilia Dilworth

 

[…] Особый интерес вызвал доклад К. Эмерсон, который ознаменовал существенные изменения в восприятии северо-американскими учеными концепции творчества Достоевского, выдвинутой в ранней книге М.М. Бахтина «Проблемы поэтики Достоевского» (1929): интерпретация произведений писателя вне религиозно-этических категорий была со стороны русского философа, как это явствует из его собственных позднейших свидетельств, вынужденным шагом, который, следовательно, напрасно добровольно повторяют некоторые современные исследователи, слишком доверившиеся постмодернистским представлениям о безусловной относительности бахтинского «диалога».

Больше всего секционных заседаний было посвящено, естественно, проблемам интерпретации романа «Идиот», и в центре внимания докладчиков зачастую оказывался его главный герой, князь Мышкин. В докладах была представлена и первоначальная тенденция восприятия этого героя как безусловного представления писателя о «положительно прекрасном человеке», и тенденция к дегероизации Мышкина, отчетливо проявившаяся в последние десятилетия изучения творчества Достоевского.

Все же в большинстве докладов звучало, как представляется, своего рода новое и во всяком случае более взвешенное представление об этом одном из загадочных образов Достоевского как о «положительно прекрасном человеке», который, тем не менее, все равно, хотя бы вследствие своей человеческой природы, не в силах разрешить трагические противоречия жизни, мучительно переживаемые другими его героями. Кое-что князь Мышкин все же оказывается способен сделать: заронить в душу каждого из них частицу добра и света, которые согревают их в минуты этих переживаний, – причем не только при личном общении с ним.

[…] Охарактеризовать все доклады, заслуживающие упоминания, к сожалению, невозможно, потому что все, что было в программе Симпозиума […] в том или ином отношении заслуживало внимания. Однако поскольку некоторые секционные заседания проходили одновременно, то и возможности прослушать их все не было. И это, может быть, единственный, хотя и исключительно вынужденный, недостаток Симпозиума.

Впрочем, если попытаться взглянуть на него критически, чтобы более целенаправленно работать на совершенствование этого замечательного форума в дальнейшем, то, наверное, далеко не все было так радужно и безоблачно. Очевидно, по-прежнему сказывалась во время работы бостонского Симпозиума одна и та же застарелая проблема в деятельности Международного общества Достоевского. Англоязычное и русскоязычное изучение его творчества – это, как и раньше, во многом параллельные миры. […]

Выступавшие с заключительными словами участники Симпозиума единодушно отметили, что он был организован великолепно и прошел на высоком научном уровне. Были высказаны также надежды на то, что грядущий в 2021 году 200-летний юбилей Достоевского будет отмечен и в России, и за рубежом достойно и содержательно.

Full text is forthcoming in Russkaia Literatura.

Полный текст будет опубликован в журнале Русская литература.

~ С.А.Кибальник

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Dostoevsky authors with their books!


Vladimir Ivantsov is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian at Williams College. His research interests include Dostoevsky, his perception in Russian and world culture, and literature and philosophy (especially existentialism and posthumanist criticism). He is a member of the North American Dostoevsky Society Readers Advisory Board. 

Katya Jordan is an Assistant Professor of Russian at Brigham Young University. Her research centers on cultural underpinnings of silence in Russian literature. She is a member of the North American Dostoevsky Society Readers Advisory Board.

The photographs that appear in this post are from the personal collections of Carol Apollonio and Katherine Bowers, unless specified otherwise, and appear with the photographers’ permission.

‘To Uncover the Secret of the Person, While Preserving the Secret as a Secret’ – A Review of the Bulgarian Dostoevsky Society’s International Symposium “The Anthropology of Dostoevsky”

by Peter Winsky

In his letter of August 16, 1839, Fyodor Mikhailovich wrote to his brother Mikhail Mikhailovich that “the person is a mystery…I am studying that mystery because I want to become a person.”[1] In similar fashion, scholars from around the globe gathered for the International Symposium on “The Anthropology of Dostoevsky” to continue Dostoevsky’s quest to understand the enigmas encrypted into the human being. Organized and held by the Bulgarian Dostoevsky Society between October 23-26, 2018 at the Sofia University of St. Kliment Ohridski, the Symposium addressed the question of the person as a problem and subject of investigation in Dostoevsky’s world. The gathering was held in honor of the 150th anniversary of the publication of the novel The Idiot.

According to Professor Emil Dimitrov, the chief architect and mastermind of both the Symposium and Bulgarian Dostoevsky Society and one of the most engaging and passionate organizers of an intellectual gathering one could possibly meet, “the question of Dostoevsky’s anthropology is not ‘What is the person?’ (that is, in the way according to Kant), but ‘What is the person capable of?’ It is the testing of the ultimate foundations of the person and humanity, the testing of the boundaries of this humanity, on the other side of which the person becomes something else – subhuman or superhuman (the Man-God, according to Kirillov)… In the spirit of Heidegger, I can say that the purpose of our Symposium is to uncover the secret of the person according to Dostoevsky, while preserving the secret as a secret.”[2] To achieve this, Professor Dimitrov built a magnificent series of events to compliment the presentations at the conference, and in doing so brought together professionals from varied disciplines, not only literature or philosophy scholars, via the particularly welcoming and friendly Bulgarian culture and lifestyle.

The morning of the first day of the Symposium opened with a panikhida, an Orthodox requiem service, for Fyodor Mikhailovich in the rotunda church of Saint Sofia, constructed between the 4th and 6th centuries. Following the service, the participants transferred to the main hall of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences for the official opening of the Symposium, marked by short welcoming speeches from Professor Dimitrov and Yordanka Fandakova, the mayor of Sofia.

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Opening Remarks from Yordanka Fandakova. Image Credit: Emil Dimitrov

Following the opening greetings, Dr. Sergei Sergeevich Khoruzhy, founder of the Institute of Synergetic Anthropology at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow and professor, mathematician, and philosopher, delivered the plenary address for the Symposium entitled “The Eschatology of Dostoevsky in the Context and Light of the Contemporary Renaissance of Eschatology.” Over the course of his remarks Professor Khoruzhy mused on the foundations of Dostoevsky’s eschatology as a personal and anthropological question through the lens of certain episodes in the novels such as Marmeladov’s Confession and Versilov’s Dream. The second half of the talk addressed the apparent ‘realizations’ of the apocalyptic situations of which Dostoevsky had prophesied (i.e. the Revolution), and possible connections of his visions and to contemporary manifestations such as global terrorism.

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Plenary Address by Sergei Sergeevich Khoruzhy.  Image Credit: Emil Dimitrov

Following Professor Khoruzhy’s captivating presentation the Bulgarian Dostoevsky Society provided a cocktail reception amid an exhibition of sketches and paintings inspired by The Idiot entitled “I was Happy in a Different Way…” After the reception, the conference began in earnest with two sessions exploring the anthropocentric universe of Dostoevsky. Panels on topics ranging from varieties of philosophical discourse in Dostoevsky, such as through Hegelian influence, to literary evaluations of The Idiot, including this author’s presentation on questions of narrative construction through the lens of Orthodox Personalism, to comparative analyses with novels like Zamyatin’s We or Ivan Bazov’s Under the Yoke, continued for the following two days. These presentations mapped and investigated the macro- and microcosmic pockets of personal being and its reverberations throughout the author’s oeuvre.

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Lazar Milentievich and Emil Dimitrov during Session One. Image Credit: Emil Dimitrov

The Symposium was not confined to the academic sphere of presentation and discourse. Every evening Professor Dimitrov engaged the participants with an assortment of cultural activities, ranging from a performance of Bulgarian Orthodox singing in the Museum of Iconography in the basement of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, to a dinner accompanied by Bulgarian folk dancing and singing, and finally the first ever screening of Akira Kurosowa’s film adaptation of The Idiot with Bulgarian subtitles.

The film was presented by members of the Japanese Society of Akira Kurosawa and the Dostoevsky Society of Japan. Select members also spoke during a round table event that showcased rare interviews with Kurosawa on his work translating the novel into cinema. The history of the lost footage from the film, which exists because of the demands of the studio on the director to make the movie under 3 hours, was also discussed. These presentations, which comprised the closing panel for the conference, truly reinforced the universality of Dostoevsky’s art as it penetrates not merely across linguistic and national boarders, but across cultural codes and mediums as well. If the task of the Symposium was, as Professor Dimitrov noted, an engagement with and evaluation of the boundaries of the person and an inquisition into its mystery, then this final discussion showed that the riches of the mines of personal being in Dostoevsky’s work are far from being uncovered.

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Presentation by the Japanese Society of Akira Kurosawa. Image Credit: Emil Dimitrov

On the last day of the conference, the participants of the Symposium set out together for the Rila Monastery, located 73 miles south of Sofia. During the excursion the group wandered beneath the breathtaking frescos of the central church of the Nativity of the Mother of God, the museum of religious artifacts, and were greeted by the Hegumen of the monastery. From the beautifully tree-lined valley in which the monastery is situated the conference ended at a vineyard and winery near the Greek border where Professor Dimitrov toasted the participants, the forthcoming publication of the conference proceedings, and a future International Symposium of the Bulgarian Dostoevsky Society. The curtain was drawn on the conference in the same way in which it was revealed, with the joyful spirit of academic cooperation and exploration into the mysteries of Dostoevsky’s profoundly personal worldview.

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Participants of the Symposium at the Rila Monastery. Image Credit: Katja Winsky

[1] F.M. Dostoevsky, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v tridsati tomakh. vol. 28(I), ed. Bazanov et. al., (Leningrad: Nauka 1972-90), 63. Translations are the author’s own.

[2] Emil Dimitrov, “Osnovnoi voproc antropologii Dostoevskogo- ‘Kak chelovek vozmozhen?’” translated by the author (accessed, 2 Feburary, 2019).


Peter_Winsky_Bulgarian_IDS

The author presenting his paper. Image Credit: Katja Winsky

Peter Gregory Winsky is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of California Los Angeles in the Department of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages and Cultures. He is writing his dissertation on the poetics of Dostoevsky’s late novels through the lens of Orthodox Personalism, with a particular interest in the relation of beauty, metanoia, and noetic vision to ‘higher realism.’ He presented a paper at the Symposium, titled ‘“I Opened to My Beloved, but My Beloved had Withdrawn” – The Anthropological Foundations of Myshkin’s Failure in Идиот.” 

CFP: Dostoevsky Beyond Bakhtin Panel Stream at AATSEEL 2020

This is a call for proposals to participate in the “Dostoevsky Beyond Bakhtin” stream at AATSEEL 2020 in San Diego. 

Since the 1980s, the theories of Mikhail Bakhtin have dominated approaches to Dostoevsky’s art and found productive applications in a vast variety of disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences.  Without questioning either the legacy of this impact or the originality of the theories themselves, it is arguable that the firm hold of Bakhtinian paradigms over Dostoevsky studies at this point in time leads mostly to rote readings that reach predictable conclusions.  This panel stream proposes that both Dostoevsky studies and the Slavic field more broadly stand to benefit from a more critical assessment of Bakhtin and a more robust, imaginative, and forward-looking debate about alternatives and future directions.

The stream seeks to initiate a vibrant scholarly conversation that would be structured around two specific questions.  First, for all the acuity of his theoretical modeling, how may Bakhtin have been wrong about Dostoevsky?  To what extent may Bakhtin’s influential readings of specific works by Dostoevsky be actually seen as misreadings?  Just how “unfinalized” are Dostoevsky’s novelistic discourses and how open-ended is his “polyglossia”?  To what extent may an implied reader that Bakhtin posits, and whose reading experience he claims to be reflecting, be too idiosyncratic to serve as a viable model of the reader of Dostoevsky’s fictions?

Second, what new vision of Dostoevsky’s art might emerge if we move beyond Bakhtin and no longer treat his exegeses as inviolable essential “truths” about the writer or an inescapable point of reference? What aspects of Dostoevsky’s fictional universe – neglected narrative, ethical, psychological, and ideological dimensions – might then come into view?  What new theoretical perspectives might productively assist us in this task?  How might Dostoevsky’s work be made relevant to current debates within the humanities?


For more information about this stream, please contact Edyta Bojanowska. Details about panel streams at AATSEEL 2020 can be found here. Proposals for “Dostoevsky Beyond Bakhtin” are due by May 1 (early deadline) via the AATSEEL membership portal – indicate that your proposal is for this stream in your abstract. For more information, please visit the AATSEEL website.

Dostoevsky at AATSEEL 2019!

by Greta Matzner-Gore

In just a week you all will be eating beignets in the French Quarter… and I’ll be eating my heart out here at home. In between jazz sessions and bowls of gumbo, make sure to check out the conference’s many exciting papers on Dostoevsky! You can find them below, listed by date, time, and room number.

Friday, February 8

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Session 1-7: Stream 7A: Monopoliphonic/polimonologic Tolstoevsky or Spirited in Flesh (I): Friendship, Suicide and Resurrection in Dostoevsky’s Works

Location: Orleans

Chair: Carol Apollonio, Duke University

“The Philosophical Problem of Friendship in Dostoevsky’s Works”

Justin Trifiro, University of Southern California

“Physical Resurrection in Notes from Underground

Max Gordon, Northwestern University

“Sudden Suicidal Convulsions in Notes from the House of the Dead

Amy Ronner, St. Thomas University School of Law

Discussant: Robin Feuer Miller, Brandeis University

 

10:15 AM – 12:00 PM

Session 2-7: Stream 7A: Monopoliphonic/polimonologic Tolstoevsky or Spirited in Flesh (II): The Problem of Gender in Tolstoy and Dostoevsky

Location: Orleans

Chair: D. Brian Kim, University of Pennsylvania

“How a Man Killed His Wife: Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata and Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Dead House

Irina Erman, College of Charleston

“In Defense of Katerina Maslova: Bakhtin and Resurrection

Erica Drennan, Columbia University

Discussant: Victoria Juharyan, Princeton University

 

4:30 PM – 6:30 PM

Session 4-7: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Gogol

Location: Endymion

“The Disintegration of Personality: Literary Parallels Between Dostoevsky’s The Double and Gogol’s ‘The Portrait’”

Olga Khometa, University of Toronto

“So…What Is To Be Done About Poor Nastasya in Dostoevsky’s The Idiot?”

Denis Zhernokleyev, Vanderbilt University

 

Session 4-10: The Language of Space and the Space of Language in (Post-)Soviet Russian Culture

Location: St. Claude

“Space in Contemporary Cinematic Transpositions of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

Alexander Burry, Ohio State University

 

Saturday, February 9

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Session 5-2: Stream 2B: Mimesis in Russian Art and Aesthetic Theory (I)

Location: Ile de France II

Chair: Kit Pribble, University of California at Berkeley

“Dostoevskiian Allegory and the Realist Project”

Melissa Frazier, Sarah Lawrence College

“V romane nado geroiia”: Realist character-systems in Dostoevsky’s Zapiski iz podpol’ia

Chloë Kitzinger, Rutgers University

“Not theatrical, not aesthetic beauty will save the world: Realistic Symbolism and Naturalism on the Stage”

Lindsay Ceballos, Lafayette College

Discussant: Susan McReynolds, Northwestern University

 

Session 5-7: Stream 7B: The Russian Medical Humanities (I)

Location: Orleans

Chair: Melissa Miller, University of Notre Dame

“Stavrogin as Syphilitic in Dostoevsky’s Demons

Brian R. Johnson, Macalester College

 

3:15 PM – 5:00 PM

Session 7-10: Graduate Invitational Panel: Feeling Across Borders in 19th-century Russia

Location: St. Claude

Chair: Jinyi Chu, Stanford University

“Identifying Emotional Communities in the Age of Pushkin”

Emily Wang, University of Notre Dame

“Emotions and Cognition in Dostoevsky’s ‘Dream of a Ridiculous Man’”

Victoria Juharyan, Princeton University

Discussant: Ilya Vinitsky, Princeton University

 

 5:15 PM – 7:00 PM

 Session 8-5: Roundtable: Crime and Punishment: Issues of Teaching and Translation

Location: Frontenac

Chair: Robin Feuer Miller, Brandeis University

Discussants:

Carol Apollonio, Duke University

Kate Holland, University of Toronto

Katherine Bowers, University of British Columbia

Val Vinokur, The New School

 

Sunday, February 10

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Session 9-5: Roundtable: Teaching Dostoevsky in the 21st Century

Location: Endymion

Chair: Robin Feuer Miller, Brandeis University

Discussants:

Amy Ronner, St. Thomas University School of Law

Caroline Lemak Brickman, UC Berkeley

Chloë Kitzinger, Rutgers University, New Brunswick

Daniel Brooks, Franklin & Marshall College

Katherine Bowers, University of British Columbia

Sean Blink, Yale University

 

Session 9-6: The Reading and Reception of the Russian Classics in the Late-Soviet Period

Location: Orleans

Chair: Jonathan Wurl, Stanford University

“‘Yes, not to Leningrad, but to Petersburg’: Reading Tsypkin Reading Dostoevsky”

Brett Roark Winestock, Stanford University

Discussant: Alexander Prokhorov, College of William and Mary

Dostoevsky at MLA 2019!

Are you heading to Chicago for MLA 2019 next week? If yes, stop by the International Dostoevsky Society-sponsored panel, taking place on Fri, Jan 4 from 5:15-6:30pm in the Sheraton Grand (rm Superior A). The panel is Idiot-themed to kick off the novel’s 150th anniversary year!

Dostoevsky’s The Idiot at 150: Textual Transactions

“Dostoevsky’s Capitalist Realism; or, Why Money Doesn’t Burn in The Idiot” – Vadim Shneyder, U of California, Los Angeles

“Prince Myshkin and the Female Fool: Gendering Dostoevsky’s Fools for Christ” Melanie Jones, U of California, Los Angeles

“The Devil Rousseau Comes to Petersburg” – Brian Armstrong, Augusta U

We hope you’ll join us in Chicago! Click here for more information.

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Dostoevsky at ASEEES 2018!

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.

Papers: 

“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.

 

Papers:

“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.

Participants:

 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.

Papers:

“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 

Papers:

“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.

Papers:

“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.

Papers:

 “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.

Papers:

“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

Discussants:

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.

Papers:

“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.

Papers:

“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

Papers:

“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.

Papers:

“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.

Papers:

“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.

Papers: 

“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.

Participants:

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

Papers:

“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.

Papers:

“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.

Papers:

“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!