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! 

Dostoevsky Panels at ASEEES 2017

by Vadim Shneyder

Autumn is a rich season for Russian literature. Readers of Dostoevsky might recall the vivid evocation of September in the Russian countryside in Poor Folk. Fans of Pushkin perhaps recite his famous verses about the beauty of October days. Those who identify with Baratynskii’s “tiller of life’s field,” now join him in reflecting on the meager fruits of their ill-spent years. And those who are lucky enough not just to read Russian literature, but to study it, pack their bags for the annual ASEEES convention. This year’s conference in Chicago brings with it an abundance of Dostoevsky-related panels, which we have collected here for the convenience of our readers. The following two-part list features, first, entire panels focused on the works of Dostoevsky, and second, panels that include individual papers covering some aspect of Dostoevsky’s life, work, thought, or legacy. We hope you can make the most of this impressive lineup!

 

Panels on Dostoevsky

Thursday, November 9

Fictional Trials, Real Transgressions: Dostoevsky, Bunin, Nabokov

Thu, November 9, 1:00 to 2:45pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Illinois

The panel examines the ways in which Dostoevsky, Bunin, and Nabokov mobilize the trope of the jury trial as a means to think through a range of legal, social, and aesthetic questions. Amy Ronner argues that viewed together, Dostoevsky’s fictional and non-fictional representations of the jury trial reveal his understanding of earthly justice and its salutary potential. Anna Schur explores how Bunin’s fictionalization of a real-life trial in The Case of Cornet Elagin reworks the jury trial trope to reconceptualize the relationship between law and literature in light of the changing conceptions of truth, reality, and literary character. Erika Donner discusses Nabokov’s interpretation of Tolstoy’s Pozdnyshev in a mock-trial production of The Kreutzer Sonata as a lens on the evolution of Lolita’s Humbert and considers both texts as participating in the tradition of constructing the reader as the juror.

 

Dostoevsky and Metaphor

Thu, November 9, 3:00 to 4:45pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Illinois

This panel considers the use of metaphor in Dostoevsky’s novels of the 1860s-70s. Focusing on metaphors of the house and the city, the railway and money, we discuss how they function on a local and global level, how they relate to Dostoevsky’s use of allegory, how they reflect contemporary scientific and historical discourses, and how they contribute to realist representation more broadly. Melissa Frazier’s paper compares Dostoevsky’s use of metaphors in Crime and Punishment with George Eliot’s in Middlemarch, focusing on the shared reliance on Lewesian physiological psychology underlying their strikingly similar conflation of physical and mental space. In their literary rendering of Lewesian “dual-aspect monism,” metaphor in Eliot as in Dostoevsky works not to elevate concrete instance or abstract referent, but to show substance and idea as always interdependent. Kate Holland’s paper examines how in The Idiot Dostoevsky uses a comic character, Lebedev, to raise the problem of the railway as metaphor for modernity. Given that the railway is a central metaphor for this novel, what does its self-referential treatment tell us about metaphoricity and modernity in Dostoevsky’s novels more generally? Vadim Shneyder’s paper examines how monetary operations—in particular, pricing and exchange—serve as a kind of metaphor for metaphor itself in Dostoevsky’s novels. It focuses on several scenes from The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov to show how, at certain key moments, quantities of money posit the identity of non-identical things, gestures, and persons and how this quasi-metaphorical operation breaks down at other moments in the novels.

 

Dostoevsky and Philosophy

Thu, November 9, 5:00 to 6:45pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Illinois

This is the third annual Dostoevsky and Philosophy ASEEES panel. Then panel series was established in honor of Joseph Scanlan’s claim that the “idea of treating a great writer as a philosopher will be unsettling to both writers and philosophers.” It may seem that taking a philosophical approach will do injustice to the literary text; it may also seem that working with a literary text cannot possibly be philosophically rigorous. Nonetheless, the influence of philosophy on Dostoevsky and of Dostoevsky on philosophy remains. There is also much of philosophical worth to be discovered in Dostoevsky’s fiction. These panels aim to further investigate those influences and unearth those discoveries in an attempt to do justice to both Dostoevsky’s thought and writing.

 

Friday, November 10

Dostoevsky and the Representation of Russian Identity

Fri, November 10, 10:00 to 11:45am, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Illinois

In his journalism Dostoevsky voices a strong sense of a re-born Russian national identity. But his self-acknowledged attempts to represent aspects of this in his fiction reveal a much more nuanced, even confused, picture. He seems to realise that over-promoting such aspects in his heroes, from Myshkin to Zosima, risks damaging reader credibility. He depicts in his fiction how this very process can alienate other in-story characters. The contradiction suggests that Dostoevsky’s concept of national identity is at odds with his perception of real reader response. His conflict reflects the wider contemporary tension in Russian society between imperial policies designed to help Russia engage with the West and at the same time to reinforce a sense of national ‘otherness’. This panel will explore how Dostoevsky’s portrayal of national identity and empire varies between his journalism and his fictional works, and investigates how his promotion of a separate Slavic destiny was tempered by his perception of the realities of the readership for which he wrote.

 

Dostoevsky and The Sacred

Fri, November 10, 3:45 to 5:30pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Illinois

Presentation: “‘Prince Christ’: Myshkin vs. Jesus, or Petersburg vs. Peleganianism” – Maxwell Parlin

Presentation: “Laughter, Spectacle and Violence in Dostoevsky’s Notes from the House of the Dead” – Cecilia Dilworth

Presentation: “Sacred and Desecrated Spaces in Dostoevsky’s The Possessed” – Olha Tytarenko

 

 

Saturday, November 11

Dostoevsky: Narrative, Ethics, Poetics

Sat, November 11, 10:00 to 11:45am, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Illinois

This panel brings together new narratological and theoretical approaches to reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s works. All three papers seek insights into Dostoevsky’s ethical and aesthetic concerns by grounding their analyses in the formal plane, and particularly by looking at the ways in which novelistic form exceeds itself, breaks down and tests its own limits. Greta Matzner-Gore’s paper explores the ethical implications of narrative indeterminacy through an analysis of the notebooks for The Adolescent. Irina Erman’s presentation traces Dostoevsky’s frequent use of stage curtains to analyze theatrical interventions into the formal plane of his novels. Sarah Ruth Lorenz’s paper argues for a reevaluation of Dostoevsky’s realism “in the higher sense” in favor of a more empirical understanding of his realist aesthetics.

 

Heroes, Tragedy, and Victims: Rhetoric, Moral Insight, and Narrative Technique in Dostoevsky’s Fiction

Sat, November 11, 1:45 to 3:30pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Illinois

Affiliate Organization: North American Dostoevsky Society

This panel proposes to put together three papers which explore Dostoevsky’s most enduring achievements in the narrative presentation of moral issues. The first paper charts Dostoevsky’s treatment of the “wounded hero” in historical contexts. The second addresses how the negative passions of resentment, vengefulness, and hatred overwhelm the moral virtue of forgiveness in The Idiot. The third paper joins the legal notion of victim impact statements and the narrative technique of free indirect discourse to explore Dostoevsky’s complicated treatment of moral responsibility in Crime and Punishment.

 

Sunday, November 12

Illness in Dostoevsky: Addiction, Obsession and Trauma

Sun, November 12, 8:00 to 9:45am, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Illinois 

Illness, physical and mental, is a pervasive theme throughout Dostoevsky’s work and merits scrutiny from a variety of perspectives. As the title indicates, this panel will explore three types of illnesses predominant in Dostoevsky; each paper will approach its illness from a different theoretical framework. One paper will examine the illness of alcoholism from the perspective of the medical discourse of Dostoevsky’s era. Another paper will address the issue of trauma, and the ways in which Fyodor Dostoevsky creates distance between his experience being imprisoned in the Omsk fortress and the imagining of this trauma in his autobiographical novel Notes from the House of the Dead. The final paper will take on the topic of obsessive thinking, and how it manifests itself as both a mental illness and a sign of ideological discipline.

 

A Genealogy of Dostoevsky’s Underground

Sun, November 12, 10:00 to 11:45am, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Great America 2 

This panel traces the evolution of Dostoevsky’s “underground” mentality in “The Double”, “Notes from Underground” and “Brothers Karamazov”. The panel’s papers, each devoted to one or more of Dostoevsky’s works, explore their protagonists’ subjectivities from philosophical and psychoanalytical perspectives, emphasizing the interpersonal dimensions of empathy, desire, and recognition. The panel diagnoses the predetermined failure of “underground” protagonists to realize their desire for self-definition and links it to their failure to acknowledge another person’s autonomy and freedom. The panel’s theoretical interpretations are informed by works of Mikhail Bakhtin, Friedrich Nietzche, Max Scheler, and Jacques Lacan.

 

Panels Featuring Presentations on or related to Dostoevsky

Thursday, November 9

Crime in Late Imperial Russia

Thu, November 9, 3:00 to 4:45pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 4th, Grace

Presentation: A Murder Most Siberian: ‘Crime and Punishment’ in 1909 Tomsk

This paper is an in depth examination of the 1909 murder of the monk Ignatii Dvernitskii, a reactionary school headmaster and newspaper editor strangled by two of his pupils. An investigation of the press coverage of the crime, as well as its perpetrators and its victim, reveals an event intimately connected to key historical themes of late-Imperial Tomsk: antisemitism, Orthodoxy, conservatism, education, revolution, and even the influence of Dostoevsky’s writings. The paper uses local Tomsk archival materials, the liberal and conservative press, contemporary publications, and Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment in order to unpack the symbolic and direct historical significance of this particular murder and its aftermath.

 

Transgressing Borders: Artistic Collaboration and Co-Authorship in the 20th Century and Beyond

Thu, November 9, 3:00 to 4:45pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Michigan State

Presentation: A Cure or a Self-Medication?: The Anti-Dialogical Collaborations of Inspection: ‘Medical Hermeneutics’

Founded in 1986, the practice of Inspection: ‘Medical Hermeneutics’ represents the last chapter in the anti-dialogical revolt as staged by the key Moscow Conceptualists. In the early 1970s, Ilya Kabakov creatively reinterpreted Mikhail Bakhtin’s Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (1929) to capture the alienating effect of Brezhnev-era stagnation. As a result, instead of giving rise to self-aware heroes who were capable of withstanding objectification by providing their own authorial viewpoint upon themselves and their worlds, which is what Dostoevsky did, Kabakov made paintings with multiple consciousnesses that actively resisted any dialogical exchange. In the late 1970s, Collective Actions expanded upon these experiments via performance art, by staging purposely incoherent, semantically nonsensical happenings that sought to affect and manipulate the viewers’ perception.

Inspection: ‘Medical Hermeneutics’ conflated these two different approaches. The members Pavel Pepperstein, Yuri Leiderman and Sergei Anufriev posed as inspectors who examined and interpreted the momentous changes brought upon by perestroika, hoping to find a ‘cure’ for the ‘attacks of the Western market’. This they found in their ‘analytical’ method of ‘psychedelic realism,’ an impenetrably convoluted style of writing that behind the facade of a critical enquiry arbitrarily coupled disparate but notably intellectual concepts, both real and made-up. The ‘cure,’ more precisely, was the bafflement, or the ‘intoxication,’ that one felt when attempting to grasp this spurious but not entirely implausible goulash of ideas. In the early 1990s, the group sought to popularise this ‘cure’ by recruiting ‘junior inspectors’ and establishing closer relations with the Leningrad-based artists, who prior to perestroika has been isolated from the Muscovites.

 

Friday, November 10

Florensky, Tarkovsky, and the Icon

Fri, November 10, 8:00 to 9:45am, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 10th, Huron

 Presentation: Icons, Dostoevsky, and Tarkovsky’s ‘Mirror’

Dostoevsky is explicitly mentioned once in Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Mirror,” in addition to numerous other references and echoes of the author’s works. This paper will explore the relationship between the writer and the director, in particular their attempts to recreate icons and iconic vision, through the prism of Florensky’s theories of reverse perspective, art, and representation.

 

Transgressions, Relationships, and Transformations

Fri, November 10, 8:00 to 9:45am, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Illinois

Presentation: A Bug’s Life in the Novels of F.M. Dostoevsky: Insects, Arachnids, and Zoomorphism as Indicators of Debasement and Transgression

Characters in the novels of F.M. Dostoevsky express curious commentary ascribing likenesses between human subjects and a variety of different bugs, including beetles, spiders, lice, cockroaches, centipedes, and mosquitoes. This paper surveys memorable examples of zoomorphic imagery in the writings of Dostoevsky, tracing the extended trajectory of such metaphors in different literary styles and works, and evaluates the role of these connections in the development of key themes and interpersonal relationships.

 

Sincerity, Authenticity, and Satire in Post-Soviet Russia

Fri, November 10, 8:00 to 9:45am, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Purdue

Presentation: Vladimir Tuchkov’s Intertextual Transgression: The Parody of the Russian Classics as Post-Soviet Social Criticism 

The post-Soviet Russian writer Vladimir Tuchkov has authored novels and mostly shorter narratives. His short fictions are marked predominantly by the grotesque, hyperbole, humor, intertextual parody, grotesque monstrosity and social satire. His critical engagement with post-Soviet realities is achieved through the creation of ahistorical, anachronistic, even mythological and archaic, narrative spaces, and all too often characterized by repugnant plots. The characters’ abnormality in his fictions is a function of the grotesque and its implicit recognition that the world is changing too fast for man to comprehend what is going on; their heteronomy appears to be a result of the loss of wider meaning and humanity. Tuchkov’s intertextual parody invokes the ideas represented by names such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Turgenev, and his often dark plots against the background of the end of a specific world and insecurity about the future, are contrasted with the ideas of Russia’s literary giants, concerning ultimate meaning and moral and social responsibility. Tuchkov’s stories thereby appear to ultimately facilitate the critical coming-to-terms with the past, and the finding of one’s new bearings amongst the loss of cultural and social values effected by the end of communism and the Soviet system.
The suggested conference paper will analyze and discuss the above outlined features in Tuchkov’s works, as represented in several of his short stories. It will also reflect on why such grotesque and parodic transgression against the venerated Russian literary tradition may serve as social criticism.

 

Ethics and Religion in Tolstoy: Navigating Self and Other

Fri, November 10, 10:00 to 11:45am, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Wisconsin

Presentation: Tolstoy’s Resurrection

This paper considers how Tolstoy, in his late novel “Resurrection,” is responding to ideas about moral resurrection, ethics, and relations with others put forth by Dostoevsky. It focuses on “House of the Dead” (which Tolstoy claimed was his favorite work by Dostoevsky), and “The Brothers Karamazov,” which he claimed not to have read but was found on the night stand in his bedroom at Yasnaya Polyana after his death.

 

New Perspectives on Russian Religious Thought

Fri, November 10, 10:00 to 11:45am, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 5th, Miami

Presentation: The Influence of Russian Religious Thought on Western Theology in the Twentieth Century

This paper will address some of the signal developments in the influence of Russian religious thought on Western theology since 1945. These include 1) the making of the Ecumenical Movement; 2) the renewal of patristics; 3) the making of the Second Vatican Council; 4) the impact of Russian religious thinkers on some of the most influential Western theologians of the 20th century, such as Hans Urs von Balthasar (Soloviev), Yves Congar (Berdyaev and others in the Paris emigration), Jaroslav Pelikan (Florovsky), Kallistos Ware (Khomiakov), John Milbank (Bulgakov) and Rowan Williams; and 5) the enduring hold of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and other modern Russian literary figures (including Bakhtin) on the Christian theological imagination. The paper will conclude that Western theology, through its encounter with Russian religious thought, has become something more than Western: Certainly it has become more cosmopolitan and arguably it has become more ecumenical.

 

Promoting Reading in Putin’s Russia: The Cult of Serious Literature Restored?

Fri, November 10, 1:45 to 3:30pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Purdue

Presentation: Guardians of Russian Literature. Vladimir Tolstoy, Dmitrii Dostoevsky, and the Kremlin’s Cultural Policies

The paper explores how surviving relatives and descendants of famous Russian writers are used and present themselves in the media as embodying and guarding the spiritual heritage of their ancestors. By examining, amongst others, the National Literary Convention of November 2012 (with the participation of president Putin and several descendants of famous Russian writers), the paper will argue that the Kremlin enlists the classics of Russian literature to promote its nation-building agenda.

 

Saturday, November 11

Florensky’s Vision of the Human Condition

Sat, November 11, 10:00 to 11:45am, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Lincolnshire II

Presentation: Reading the Russian Novel through Florensky’s Anthropology

In this paper I will argue that 19th-century Russian authors (such as Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov), because they were brought up in an Orthodox Christian culture, imbibed from the air, so to speak, and expressed in their works an understanding of the human being — or to be more precise, of the human person — that is rooted in Orthodox theology. Those authors’ works, in turn, figured among the roots and spawning grounds for the ideas of Russian religious philosophers of the turn of the 20th century, including perhaps especially Pavel Florensky. That is why Florensky’s anthropology, the Trinitarian vision of the person (lichnost’), provides a very useful interpretive lens for understanding certain common features of these works.

 

Florensky and the Problem of Seeing

Sat, November 11, 1:45 to 3:30pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Purdue

Presentation: Using Florensky’s ‘Reverse Perspective’ to see The Dead Christ in The Idiot

This paper uses Floresnky’s article “Obratnaia perspectiva” to explain three different ways of looking at Holbein’s Dead Christ in The Idiot. Florensky’s articulation of realist art illuminates both Ippolit’s and Rogozhin’s different interpretations of the painting, while Floresnky’s articulation of reverse perspectival art illuminates Myshkin’s. I contend that for Dostoevsky, as for Florensky, ways of seeing reflect ways of thinking.

 

Translating Race in Eurasia III: Race and the Canon: New Approaches to 19th-century Russian Literature

Sat, November 11, 1:45 to 3:30pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Ohio State

Presentation: Racial Signifiers in the Russian Canon

This paper examines tendencies within the Russian literary classics of the 19th-century to inscribe race onto characters through coded language (for example, references to dark features and kinky hair) in order to signify instability and unreliability. Through close readings of key scenes in works by Dostoevsky and Chekhov, this presentation works towards understanding how race, though by definition a matter of exteriority, came to be a marker of psychological and even medical deficiencies in the Russian context. This project incorporates recent scholarship from the medical humanities and critical race studies to investigate how the psychology (not merely biology) of race became instilled in 19th-century Russian cultural practices.

 

Family Novel Variations: Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy

Sat, November 11, 3:45 to 5:30pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Illinois

Presentation: Incest and the Limits of Family in the Nineteenth-Century Russian Novel

In “I’m in Love with My Brother,” Anna Berman explores the way Russian authors avoided the sibling incest obsession of the English, while still honoring the intense power of the first-family bond. Focusing on the novelistic families of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, the paper examines the use the sibling bond as a model for romantic relations and the pattern of falling in love with one who is “like” kin, tracing their roots in the wider European tradition.

 

Presentation: Brothers (Karamazov)

In “Brothers (Karamazov),” Chloë Kitzinger considers Dostoevsky’s Karamazovs (1879-80) as a reimagining of Konstantin Levin’s family in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (1875-77). Working with both novels, as well as Dostoevsky’s comments on Anna Karenina in “The Diary of a Writer,” her paper reexamines contrasts and parallels between Tolstoy and Dostoevsky as realist writers in terms of the differences between these two similarly-structured families. She argues that in rewriting Levin and his brothers, Dostoevsky picked up specific techniques of characterization from Tolstoy that served their shared — though disparately pursued — aim of transforming the Russian reading public.

Sunday, November 12

Cognitive Approaches to Russian Literature II: Reading, Memory, and Transformation

Sun, November 12, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 6th, Wisconsin 

Roundtable: The second roundtable on “Cognitive Approaches to Russian Literature” will take us on an alternative tour of Russian literature, by investigating the cognitive states of characters, the process of reading, and the workings of memory in Russian texts. Jerry Piven will explore what cognitive psychology can tell us about the experiences of Dostoevsky’s characters, as they go through fugue states, religious crises, and transformations. Sarah Mohler will then focus on the process of reading and examine how the immersive reading of Tolstoy can affect his readers by enhancing empathy and promoting moral elevation (altruistic acts). She will also discuss Tolstoy’s use of visual techniques for promoting readers’ simulation of a fictional world, to be contrasted with Dostoevsky’s polyphonic techniques. Katherina Kokinova will continue the exploration of the reading process and the role of context in Nabokov through the double lens of cognitive science and reception theory. Amina Gabrielova will next examine the intersection of cognitive linguistics and memory studies and explore how Dmitry S. Likhachev’s “conceptospheres,” which can both shrink and expand, find a parallel in A. Assmann’s theory of “canon” and “archive” in cultural memory. Finally, Denis Akhapkin will discuss conceptual blending in Brodsky’s poetry. Engaging with the annual ASEEES theme of Transgression, this cognitive roundtable investigates how transgressing the boundaries between literary studies and cognitive science can engender fertile possibilities for intellectual inquiry and cross-pollination.


Vadim Shneyder is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. He is writing a book called  Russia’s Capitalist Realism: Historical Change and Narrative Form in Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Chekhov.

 

 

Dostoevsky panels at ASEEES 2016!

by Greta Matzner-Gore

819px-Vasily_Perov_-_Портрет_Ф.М.Достоевского_-_Google_Art_ProjectASEEES is just around the corner, and we’re looking forward to attending the many exciting panels on Dostoevsky. To help spread the word, we’ve compiled two lists: one of panels that focus primarily on Dostoevsky, the other of panels that include papers treating Dostoevsky’s thought and works. Come to as many as you can!

PANELS ON DOSTOEVSKY

THURSDAY

Ideas as Contagion: Dostoevsky’s Aesthetics of Catastrophe and Ethics of Excess

Thu, November 17, 1:00 to 2:45pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson

Brief Description

The Russian psychologist, V. Bekhterev, theorised about ideas being a form of virus and the spread of ideas a form of infection. Tolstoy spoke positively of “infectiousness” (заразительность) as a major component of popular aesthetics in “What is art?” (1897). In the light of these theories about the communication of ideas, the panel will consider how ideas are structured as ‘objects’ of representation in Dostoevsky’s fiction. The panel is keen to pursue the connection between the model of meaning and modern subjectivity, which emerges from Dostoevsky’s anthropology and aesthetics, and the culture of violence and revolution of his time and of ours. An explanation is sought in the psychoanalytic concept of the ‘real’ which defines the ‘unrepresentable’ or the ‘limit’ in the symbolic order, as well as in ideological constructs, contextualised historically and philosophically.

 

Trauma and Healing in Dostoevsky

Thu, November 17, 3:00 to 4:45pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson

Brief Description

Pain is at the center of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s conception of human subjectivity. A universally acknowledged master at portraying the plight of the human condition, Dostoevsky is no less adept at exploring various conduits for recovery. This panel will consider different forms of traumatic experience and recovery processes in Dostoevsky’s corpus.

 

The North American Dostoevsky Society: Interdisciplinary Readings

Thu, November 17, 5:00 to 6:45pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Madison A

Brief Description

This is the annual ASEEES panel sponsored by the North American Dostoevsky Society. This year’s papers each have an interdisciplinary element, as they touch on therapeutic jurisprudence, economic criticism, and ancient philosophy.

 

FRIDAY

 

Global Dostoevskys

Fri, November 18, 8:00 to 9:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson

Brief Description

This panel examines Dostoevsky’s work in its global context, reaching back to eighteenth-century Europe as well as forward to twenty-first century Africa and Asia. Sarah Hudspith’s paper brings together the unlikely combination of The Gambler and Laclos’s Les Liasisons Dangereuses in a comparative exploration of first-person narratives. Jeanne-Marie Jackson explores how two African novelists, Imraan Coovadia and Tendai Huchu, engage with Dostoevsky’s novel of ideas in a post-philosophical context. Connor Doak concentrates on how masculinity figures in contemporary film and TV adaptations of Dostoevsky in Kazakhstan, Japan, and Russia.

 

Formal (Dis)solutions in Later Dostoevsky

Fri, November 18, 10:00 to 11:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson

Brief Description

Each of the papers on this panel explores Dostoevsky’s ambitions for the novel genre as reflected in the experimental narrative forms of his later novels: disputed middles, proliferating endings, and extended prefaces. Focusing (respectively) on The Idiot, The Adolescent, and The Brothers Karamazov, we look at how these strange or estranged forms mirror, make possible, or challenge the novels’ innovative attempts to encompass incommensurability, eschatology, the ordinary, and the divine. As a group, our papers reflect on the contentious and persistent question of what constitutes formal “success” or “failure” in Dostoevsky’s later novels.

 

Dostoevsky’s “Dream of a Ridiculous Man”: Approaches and Perspectives

Fri, November 18, 1:45 to 3:30pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson 

Brief Description

Since its publication in 1877, Dostoevsky’s short story, “Dream of a Ridiculous Man,” has evoked a myriad of conflicting interpretations. It has been read as an account of delusional solipsism and of revelatory religious experience, and its protagonist has been viewed alternately as a prophet, a liar, a megalomaniac, and a saint. In focusing its panelists’ collective energies on this singular short story, the roundtable aims to bring a wide range of interpretations and approaches (from philosophy, literary theory, psychology and psychoanalysis) into dialogue in grasping the story’s elusive poetics, while also treating the story as a test case for mediating diverging approaches to and perspectives on Dostoevsky’s work as a whole.

 

Dostoevsky and the Political Underground: New Perspectives

Fri, November 18, 3:45 to 5:30pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson 

Brief Description

By the time Dostoevsky returned from imprisonment and exile in Siberia, he was certainly not a revolutionary politically, and his critical assessment of progressive liberalism, radicalism, socialism, as well as Westernization in general, is well known. Yet the productive conceptual exchange between Dostoevsky and the opposed political camp–even representatives of the political underground–deserves greater attention. Dostoevsky’s continued interaction with politically engaged intellectuals and revolutionaries would stimulate and enrich his own writings, while his influence on “underground” culture would continue long after his death. This panel will address this crucial aspect of Dostoevsky’s own ideological development and his ultimate cultural legacy through papers that will examine: 1) how Dostoevsky’s contact with former members of the Petrashevsky circle and their Polish and Ukrainian contacts following their Siberian exile helped to shape his concept of the narod, 2) how Dostoevsky helped to formulate the moral-aesthetic ideals that were subsequently embraced by Russian revolutionary terrorists, and 3) how Dostoevsky continues to be a “spiritual mentor” for the underground culture of Russian punk rock.

 

SATURDAY

 

Dostoevsky and the Icon

Sat, November 19, 8:00 to 9:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson

Brief Description

This panel uses the icon as a prism through which to read and interpret the work of Dostoevsky. Recent scholarship out of Russia on the topic of literary icons, iconic vision and the treatment of iconic space provides a rich source of new theoretical approaches to Dostoevsky’s work. The nature of the iconic image allows panelists to consider the relationship among the textual, visual, spiritual and philosophical aspects Dostoevsky’s aesthetics.

 

Russian Literature: Philosophy, Physiology, Intertextuality

Sat, November 19, 8:00 to 9:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jefferson

 

Dostoevsky and Philosophy

Sat, November 19, 10:00 to 11:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson

Brief Description

In 2002, Joseph 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 aims to further investigate those influences in an attempt to do justice to both Dostoevsky’s thought and writing.

 

Consciousness and Selfhood in Dostoevsky

Sat, November 19, 1:45 to 3:30pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson 

Brief Description

This panel examines the interactions among the elements of personality – mind, consciousness, the unconscious, soul, body – that constitute and inform Dostoevsky’s complex and synthetic understanding of the human being. David Powelstock examines the consequences of the fracturing of mind and body in Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground. Evgenia Cherkasova explores the importance of unconscious experience in Brothers Karamazov as a catalyst for existential responsibility. Yuri Corrigan explores how Dostoevsky’s ambivalent and potentially paradoxical attitude to the concept of the self finds resolution in the Brothers Karamazov through Dostoevsky’s study of how the personality constitutes itself through reliance on the agencies of others.

 

Crime and Punishment at 150: Reconsidering the Novel’s Epilogue

Sat, November 19, 3:45 to 5:30pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson 

Brief Description

2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. This panel will mark the occasion by reconsidering the novel’s controversial and much disputed epilogue. These three papers each take a different methodological approach to this problem. Bowers examines the epilogue from the perspective of genre theory, exploring where its tension between form and philosophy originates, and analyzing the work’s application of the “lowbrow” genre of detective fiction to its “highbrow” artistic ambitions. Holland compares the epilogue with the ending of The Brothers Karamazov, examining both from the perspective of Dostoevsky’s attempt to become reconciled to the novelistic form’s resistance to salvific narratives. Young uses distance reading tools, such as concordances and topic modelling, to compare the epilogue’s lexical patterns to those of the Petersburg text and Dostoevsky’s carceral works and to suggest further possibilities for digital analysis of Dostoevsky’s works.

PANELS FEATURING PAPERS ON DOSTOEVSKY

 

THURSDAY

 

Emotions in Russian Literature I

Thu, November 17, 1:00 to 2:45pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Johnson

 Brief Description

This is the first of three interconnected panels about emotions in Russian literature. In this particular panel we consider melancholia in Chekhov, as well as the emotional valences of Russian literature for actors and mental health professionals. Whether as readers, actors, or social workers, all those exposed to Russian literature are confronted with its deep emotionalism.

 

Gender and Sexuality in 19C Russian Literature & Art

Thu, November 17, 1:00 to 2:45pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Hoover 

Brief Description

This roundtable brings together a group of early-career researchers whose work explores gender and sexuality in 19C Russian literature and art. Our roundtable considers whether and how recent theoretical perspectives on gender and sexuality (queer theory, affect theory, theories of men & masculinity) can illuminate 19C literature and art. We each bring our own case study to the table: Connor Doak (Bristol) will address performances of masculinity in the early Dostoevskii; Allison Leigh (Cooper Union) will speak on men in paintings of interiors from the 1830s-40s in relation to Pushkin’s Evgenii Onegin; Emily Wang (Princeton) will discuss homosocial affect in the Decembrist movement and Decembrist poetry; Jennifer Wilson will speak on Spinsters in Tolstoy and Queer Theory. However, we envisage the roundtable will not just be a series of close readings of texts, but also a broader discussion of the possibilities and pitfalls of bringing contemporary theory to 19C Russian culture.

 

The Relevance of Russian Thinkers: Contemporary Approaches to Nihilism, post-Nihilism and Relativism

Thu, November 17, 3:00 to 4:45pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Lobby Level, Delaware B 

Brief Description

From Nietzsche to Heidegger to postmodernism, Western debates on the significance and value of life have taken cues from the Russian intellectual tradition. The interrelated problems of nihilism and its overcoming have acquired special urgency in the last fifteen years since 9/11. In their responses to the contemporary global intellectual, axiological and political crises, Western philosophers have been once again drawing extensively on such Russian thinkers as Herzen, Bakunin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Alexandre Kojève and some others. The goal of our roundtable is to bring attention to this recent intellectual trend and discuss its implications for the development of the Slavic field worldwide. The theme of this roundtable fits well with the main theme of the 2016 Convention, “Global Conversations.”

 

The Power of (Mis)Reading: Literature and Journalism in the Second Half of the 19th Century

Thu, November 17, 3:00 to 4:45pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Lobby Level, Park Tower Room 8205 

Brief Description

In the middle of the 19th century, thick journals reached the zenith of their power and influence. Writers and journalists became the new “heroes of the time,” who believed in their higher calling to transform Russian society by making literature serve most importantly a social function. Even those writers who ruled over the hearts of the public often had to negotiate the “true message” of their works with other powerful readers, most importantly, with popular journalists, literary critics and the censor. This panel will explore literary and historical approaches to the problem of competing (mis)readings, questions of literary politics, and the phenomenon of the interpenetration of literature and journalism in the second half of the 19th century as a way to recreate an important context for the development of classical Russian literature.

 

Boris Akunin’s Global Engagements: Allusions to the World’s Classics and History Writing

Thu, November 17, 3:00 to 4:45pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Harding 

Brief Description

This panel explores creative output by Grigorii Chkhartishvili, a contemporary Russian writer who has mostly published under the pen name Boris Akunin. The paper by Elena Baraban examines the functions of Boris Akunin’s allusions and remakes of the novels by Dostoevsky (most notably, “Crime and Punishment”). Yekateria Cotey discusses the allusions to Charles Dickens’s “Great Expectations” and “Old Curiosity Shop” that appear in the novel Devyatny Spas, which Chkhartishvili published under the pen-name Anatoly Brusnikin. In the paper entitled “An Instructional Manual for the Nation: Boris Akunin’s History of the Russian State,” Stephen Norris examines Akunin’s recent popular history books. All three papers explore the ways in which Chkhartishvili re-contextualizes Russian literature and history in a global context through engaging a variety of postmodern writing techniques.

 

The Concept of Dignity: Russian and Cross-Cultural Perspectives

Thu, November 17, 5:00 to 6:45pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Lobby Level, Delaware B 

Brief Description

Protests that have been recently spreading around the globe as citizens advocate for dignity, make the concept of dignity a topical subject for academic study. It is used by the scholars that fit into the spectrum that starts from the liberal the human rights theorists and ends by ideologists of Al Qaeda and ISIS. The panel analyses the historical sources of dignity and its normative, legal and societal implications. The panel contributes to the discussion of dignity in the discipline of political theory and sheds light on how dignity is perceived in various cultures. Oleg Kharkhordin examines the perception of dignity in contemporary Russia. Xenia Cherkaev studies the interpretation of dignity by the judiciary and international human rights discourses. Boris (Rodin) Maslov explains the meaning of dostoinstvo (dignity) and analyses its sources in the discourse of XI-XVIII centuries.

 

FRIDAY 

 

Translation as Global Conversation Panel 6: National Literatures as World Literature in (Re)translation

Fri, November 18, 3:45 to 5:30pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, McKinley

Brief Description

This panel is part of the series of panels on translation: “Translation as Global Coverstion” organzied together with Julie Hansen, Uppsala U, Sweden.

The panel aims to investigate how canonical and non-canonical literatures are being mediated outside of their home countries as World Literature and what the role of translation is in this process. Different aspects of (re)translation, new translation and intermediary texts will be discussed following the recent debates on retranslation in the field of literary translation.

 

SATURDAY

 

Ecology and Russian Culture VI: (Un)Natural Catastrophe

Sat, November 19, 8:00 to 9:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Lobby Level, Park Tower Room 8216

Brief Description

This is the sixth of six panels, collectively titled “Ecology and Russian Culture,” which seek to foster interdisciplinary conversations about ecology and environment among specialists of Russian literature, history, and culture. Prompted by the eco-critical turn in the humanities broadly conceived, these panels address issues of nature, industry, ecology and the nonhuman from the nineteenth century to the contemporary period. Our panels include, but are not limited to, discussions of the following topics: representations of the animal and human-animal relations; representations of nature and natural philosophy; ecocritical visions of land and empire; the changing environment and ecological disasters; resource management, sustainability, and environmental activism; and the myriad ways in which genre, culture, history, and politics interact with ecology. This panel will address the shifting links and tensions between man, nature, and culture in prominent literary works of the 19th and 20th centuries.

 

Comparative Modernisms

Sat, November 19, 10:00 to 11:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Lobby Level, Park Tower Room 8205 

Brief Description

This panel proposes to examine aspects of the complex relationship between Russian and European Modernism, both from the perspective of 19th-c. roots as well as from that of the early 20th-c. flourishing of the respective movements. Discussion of Abramovitch, Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva, and Bely alongside, respectively, Dickens, Joyce and Eliot.

 

Icons and the Arts

Sat, November 19, 1:45 to 3:30pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jefferson

Brief Description

This panel explores emerging ideas about the relationship among iconic practices, the composition of the icon, its representation in the visual and literary arts, and the meaning of this intersection. The dynamics among word, image and gesture are explored in the work of Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Valeriia Narbikova, Varlam Shalamov, Platonov, Bulgakov, Pasternak. The visual art of Narbikova, Kazimir Malevich and the Russian orthodox icon come into play as panelists consider issues such as visual perspective, the tactile origins of the icons, and the role of artist and reader/observer. The round table proposes a complex framework that examines ways in which traditional paradigms of image and perception are abolished, reinterpreted or perverted. On a broad cultural level, the group will consider the challenge to the privileged position of Logos established in western and post-Petrine Russian culture; the relationship between art and icons seems to reintegrate the verbal and the visual in a way that recalls more traditional understandings within Orthodox culture. Because of the exploratory nature of the discussion and the fact that many panelists are introducing new and highly interdisciplinary work, the round table will be the best forum for such a discussion.

 

Historical and Literary Intertexts in Late Nineteenth-Century Russian Fiction

Sat, November 19, 3:45 to 5:30pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Lobby Level, Park Tower Room 8212 

Brief Description

This panel examines the intertexts for Russian realism, reaching back in time and across national boundaries to find the roots of late 19th century Russian texts. The textual influences examined include imported French and British literature, widely circulated in mid-century society, and their respective narrative strategies, and historical contexts, particularly women’s revolutionary behavior. The works of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Korolenko, and Polonsky will be investigated alongside their intertexts.

 

SUNDAY

Senses and Inspiration: Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tsvetaeva

Sun, November 20, 8:00 to 9:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson

 

Family in the 19th-Century Realist Novel

Sun, November 20, 8:00 to 9:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Lobby Level, Park Tower Room 8212

Brief Description

This panel considers the meaning and value of family, and more broadly human connectedness, as they are represented in the 19th-century Russian realist novel. Questions to be considered include: How do Russian views of family contrast with European? Is the family the ideal form of social organization, and if not, what alternatives might exist? What makes for valuable or ethical familial relations? What other social meanings is family a metaphor for?

 

Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Nabokov: Aikhenvald and the Stakes of Criticism

Sun, November 20, 10:00 to 11:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson 

Brief Description

This panel seeks to bring needed attention to the critical practice and aesthetic theories of Yuli Aikhenvald, whose work was influential for Vladimir Nabokov’s artistic practice. Immensely popular just before Formalism took the stage, Aikhenvald’s idealist-inspired “immanent” criticism soon faded from public view. This panel explores the critic’s view of work in relation to Tolstoy; his views of Dostoevsky in relation to Nabokov’s early lectures on Brother’s Karamazov; and his theory of author’s and reader’s activity in light of Nabokov’s own engagement of these concepts.

 


Greta Matzner-Gore is an Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Southern California. A specialist in nineteenth-century Russian literature, her research interests include narrative theory, the ethics of reading, and the intersections between science and literature. She is also a founding member of the North American Dostoevsky Society’s Reader Advisory Board.