Cultural Upheavals in Russia

Interdisciplinary conference in Columbus, OH

"Negotiating Cultural Upheavals: Icons, Myths, and Other Institutions of Cultural Memory in Modern Russia, 1900-2000"

An Interdisciplinary Russian Culture Conference
April 13-15, 2000
Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio

Twentieth-century Russia has seen more than its share of social and cultural upheaval resulting from wars, revolutions, the collapse of governments and the imposition of others--events that extend from 1905 to the more recent disintegration of the Soviet Union and Russia's reintegration in to the global economy. These social and political changes have inevitably affected the course of cultural evolution, producing enormous gulfs between new and old traditions and isolating thousands of people from their traditional cultural environments. Despite their magnitude, these gulfs are not unbridgeable: in fact, various types of "bridges" have been and are being constructed across them. The objective of this interdisciplinary conference is to examine these bridges, their builders, and the ideas upon which they are founded.

Article-length versions of the conference papers will be considered for publication in a special issue of Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History.

The conference organizing committe members are: Dr. Galina Rylkova, chair; Dr. Michael David-Fox, Dr. Sara Dickinson, Dr. George Kalbouss, and Dr. Irene Masing-Delic.


Conference Program


  • 5-7pm--Registration, Reception
  • 7pm--Opening Remarks: Irene Masing-Delic (Ohio State U)
  • 7:15pm--Keynote Address
    VIKTOR YEROFEYEV (Moscow) "The Misadventures of Humanism in Russia"
    Introduction by: Galina Rylkova (Ohio State U)


  • 9-11 am -- PANEL I: "The Strategies of Appropriation"
    Chair: Sara Dickinson (Ohio State U)
    ALEKSANDR ETKIND* (European U) "Vanguard Looking Backward: Popular Sects in the Political Imagination of the Russian Revolution"
    MICHAEL MAKIN (U of Michigan): "Whose Klyuev?"
    WILLIAM NICKELL (UC Santa Cruz): "Tolstoy as Mirror of Cultural Change"
    GALINA RYLKOVA (Ohio State U): "A Silver Lining to the Russian Clouds: The Myth of the Silver Age in the Twentieth Century"

  • 11:15am-12:15pm--Keynote Address
    SHEILA FITZPATRICK (U of Chicago): "Reflections on Cultural Upheaval in Twentieth-Century Russia"
    Introduction by: Michael David-Fox (U of Maryland)

  • 12:15-1:30--Lunch

  • 1:30-3:30pm -- PANEL II: "Perfecting the Past Imperfect"
    Chair: George Kalbouss (Ohio State U)
    ANGELA BRINTLINGER (Ohio State U): "Bridging the Border: Creating a Usable Past in Soviet Russia and Russia Abroad in the Late 1920s"
    IVAN ESAULOV* (Russ. State Humanities U): "V poiskakh utrachennoi Rossii"
    LEONID LIVAK (Grinnell College): "Toward the Semiotics and Cultural Mythology of Russian Literary Activity in Emigration"
    PAUL ROBINSON (Royal Military College of Canada): "Gallipoli, the White Idea, and Modern Russia"

  • 3:30-4pm--Coffee Break

  • 4-6pm -- Panel III: "Negotiating an Identity Crisis"
    Chair: Helena Goscilo (U of Pittsburgh)
    DONALD WRIGHT (Tulane U): "The Russian Army, National Celebrations, and the Construction of Patriotic Identity, 1906-1913"
    ANNA KRYLOVA (Johns Hopkins U): "It is Difficult for You to Understand Us: The StalinistPerson as Our Generation"
    EVGENII BERSHTEIN (Reed College): "Sexual Identities in Russian Symbolism: Viacheslav Ivanov and Pavel Florenskii"
    BRIAN BAER (Kent State U): "The Silver Age and the Re-Construction of a Gay Past in Russia: Texts & Contexts"


  • 9-11am -- Panel IV: "Over and Under the Barriers"
    Chair: Jean Laves (U of Chicago)
    KELLY HEROLD (Grinnell College): "Artistic Memory as Icon and Myth in the Autobiographies of Vladimir Nabokov"
    BRIAN HOROWITZ (U of Nebraska): "Recesses of Humanism: Semen Dubnov's 'Jewish Autonomism' in the Context of Russian History"
    RUTH RISCHIN (Independent Scholar): "In the Shades of Spain: Gorky's Last Legacy to Hebrew Literature"
    KATERINA CLARK* (Yale U): "Thinking National Cultural Identity at a Time of Crisis: SovietIntellectuals and German Exiles in Moscow, 1935-1938"

  • 11:15am 12:15pm -- Keynote address
    IRENE MASING-DELIC (Ohio State U): "What Makes a Good Mediator: the Case of Maxim Gorky"
    Introduction by: Anelya Rugaleva (Ohio State U)

  • 12:15-1:30pm--Lunch

  • 1:30-3:30pm -- Panel V: "Facing Post-Soviet Abyss"
    Chair: David Hoffmann (Ohio State U)
    DENIS KOZLOV (U of Toronto): "The Historical Antiquarianism of the Soviet Intelligentsia: Images and Representations of the Past, 1953-1991"
    DAVID WEBER (U of Wisconsin): "What is to be Done? The Debate over Lenin's Remains in Post-Soviet Russia"
    MICHAEL GORHAM (U of Florida): "New Russian Purism: Negotiating National Identity in the Language Culture of Post-Soviet Russia"
    SERGUEI OUSHAKINE (Columbia U): "A Wordless Anthem: In the State of Post-Soviet Aphasia"

  • 3:30-4pm--Coffee Break

  • 4-6pm -- Panel VI: "Bridging Great Divides"
    Chair: Katherine David-Fox (Ohio State U)
    KARL QUALLS (U of Missouri): "The Architectural Bridge: Planning Soviet Cities after World War II"
    STEPHEN V. BITTNER (U of Chicago): "Remembering the Avante-Garde: Novyi Arbat, Post-Stalinist Architecture, and the Legacy of Soviet Constructivism, 1953-65"
    JAMES WEST (U of Washington): "St. George & the Sun God: Russian Popular Imagery Across the Revolutionary Divide"
    TIM SCHOLL (Oberlin College): "Bringing Beauty Back: The 1999 Revival of the 1890 Sleeping Beauty"

* denotes Invited Panel Speaker

Registration Information

The conference is open to the public, but registration is required. The registration fee is $25 ($35 for late registration), but this fee is waived for graduate and undergraduate students (students not registering by the deadline will be charged $10). Lunches on Friday and Saturday will each cost an additional $5 (even students must pay to attend). Please include payment with your registration form and make checks payable to "The Ohio State University." Registration deadline is March 31, 2000. Contact: Bill Wolf, 1712 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH, USA 43210-1219, Fax 614-292-4273, Email

The conference will take place at the Holiday Inn on Lane Avenue. For those needing lodging, rooms are $89 per night, but space is limited (call 614-294-4848 for reservations). Limited space may also exist in the OSU dormitory ($25 per night—call 614-292-8266), but will not be available until two weeks before the conference. If you are unable to secure lodging or have any conference-related questions, call (614) 292-8770, or write to:

Conference sponsored by
OSU Mershon Center
OSU Center for Slavic & East European Studies
OSU Dept Slavic & East European Languages & Literatures
and made possible with funds from
The US Department of Education

Posted: 2 March 2000