by Greta Matzner-Gore
ASEEES 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
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
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
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
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.
Fri, November 18, 8:00 to 9:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson
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
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
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
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.
Dostoevsky and the Icon
Sat, November 19, 8:00 to 9:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Jackson
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
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
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
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
Emotions in Russian Literature I
Thu, November 17, 1:00 to 2:45pm, Wardman DC Marriott, Mezzanine, Johnson
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Sat, November 19, 10:00 to 11:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Lobby Level, Park Tower Room 8205
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
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
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.
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
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
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.