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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications

Russian Days at Reed College explores Russian culture of the 1920s and 1930s,

PORTLAND, OR (March 11, 2005) - Russian Days at Reed College, March 22 through April 5, explores early 20th century Russian politics, literature, and the arts through a series of special programs including lectures on Stalinist musical comedy, Soviet Realism in the 1930s, a concert of traditional religious and folk music, a poetry reading of absurdist Russian works in translation, and a symposium on Russian Jews and Modernity.

All the events are free and open to the public.

"When we are looking at the Russian culture of the 1920s and 1930s, we find stunning cultural achievements rising from the society drenched in blood," notes Evgenii Bershtein, Reed Russian professor and organizer of the events. Russian Days will offer a study of the often tragic Russian encounter with modernity in the context of Stalinist tyranny, where all too many Soviet citizens and creative artists were both victims and executioners, both the persecuted and oppressors.

Schedule of Events

Film Lecture
4:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 22
Galya Diment, University of Washington
"Comrade Stalin's Follies"
Psychology Auditorium (room 105)

A noted scholar of Russian literature and cinema, Diment will discuss the 1930s phenomenon of "Soviet Hollywood," the genre of Stalinist musical comedy, and the film "Seekers of Happiness" that shows Soviet Jews joyfully moving to Birobidzhan. This lecture is sponsored by the Reed Russian department.

Poetry Reading
5 p.m., Thursday, March 24
Matvei Yankelevich
Vollum 120

The New York City-based poet and translator Matvei Yankelevich will read his forthcoming translations of Daniil Kharms and Aleksandr Vvedensky, the Russian absurdist poets from the group OBERIU. This reading is sponsored by the Reed Russian department.

8 p.m., Friday, April 1
The Valaam Ensemble
Eliot Chapel (third floor, Eliot Hall)

The Valaam Ensemble, the celebrated quintet of male singers from the Valaam Monastery in northern Russia, performs in concert at Reed College as part of their first tour of the Northwest. The performance will feature traditional folk songs, liturgical hymns, and chants from the musical traditions of northern Russia. This concert is sponsored by the Reed music, religion, and Russian departments, and by the Office of the President.

2 p.m., Sunday, April 3
"From the Shtetl to the World: Russian Jews and Modernity"
Vollum Lounge
Participants: Yuri Slezkine, University of California, Berkeley; Evgenii Bershtein, Reed College; Harriet Murav, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Paul Silverstein, Reed College; Michael Weingrad, Portland State University; and Steven Wasserstrom, Reed College.

This mini-symposium is devoted to Yuri Slezkine's new book "The Jewish Century." The book presents a provocative and sweeping argument about the role of Jews in modernity and the ways this role was achieved. The author reconstructs and explicates the patterns of the Jewish exodus from the pale of settlement and the Jews' consequent assimilation in America and the Soviet Union. Slezkine addresses the issue of massive Jewish participation in Russian socialism, including disturbing new evidence of Soviet Jews' role in Stalinist terror.
This symposium is co-sponsored by the Reed Russian and religion departments, the Office of the President, the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at Portland State University, and the Institute for Judaic Studies.

4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 5
Christina Kiaer, Columbia University
"Aleksandr Deineka's Socialist Bodies: Soviet Realism in the 1930s"
Psychology Auditorium (room 105)

Columbia University art historian Kiaer discusses Stalinist body culture and the works of the leading Socialist Realist painter Aleksandr Deineka. This lecture is sponsored by the Reed art and Russian departments, the Robert L. Lehman Foundation, and the Reed College Humanities 220 program.

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Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, is an undergraduate institution of the liberal arts and sciences dedicated to sustaining the highest intellectual standards in the country. With an enrollment of about 1,360 students, Reed ranks third in the undergraduate origins of Ph.D.s in the United States and second in the number of Rhodes Scholars from a liberal arts college (31 since 1915). For more information, visit