Russian Language & Literature

Русский язык и русская литература в Рид–колледже

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Other Russias: Victoria Lomasko's Graphic Journalism
Wednesday, March 8, 5-7:00pm
Eliot Hall, 314

Russian artist Victoria Lomasko is a fixture at Moscow's trials and protests, documenting the tumultuous processes that shape today's Russia. Not willing to limit herself to the political life of the country's capital, Lomasko travels around the country and through the former Soviet republics, exploring the domestic, psychological, and spiritual condition of its diverse marginalized groups. Sex workers in Nizhny Novgorod, women in underground lesbian clubs, teachers in a remote village school, and children at the juvenile prison colonies where Lomasko volunteers as an art teacher have been some of the subjects of her sensitive, incisive portraits.

With empathy at the heart of her approach, Lomasko is drawn to people who challenge her, whose stories do not necessarily illustrate her own political views. In her graphic reportages, we find a panorama of modern Russian society. She will be discussing her new collection, an anthology of her work from 2009–2016, Other Russias (n+1, 2016). Bela Shayevich, New-York based author and translator, will join the artist at this event.

Film Screening: "The Commissar"
Directed by Aleksandr Askoldov
Sunday, November 20 @ 4:30 pm
NW Film Center

Reed College professor Marat Grinberg, the author of the first book companion to the film, will introduce the screening and be on hand for post-film discussion. Co-sponsored by the Portland Jewish Film Festival.

Ilya Kukulin (Associate Professor of Culture Studies at the Moscow Higher School of Economics, Winner of the 2015 Andrei Bely Prize)
"Did the Post–Soviet Period in Russian History End in 2014-15?"
Monday, October 31, 2016, 4:40 PM
Eliot Hall 314, Reed College
Sponsored by the Reed Russian department.
Free and open to the public.


Understanding Putinism: Illiberal Russia through the Liberal Arts
April 2 and 3
Reed College Performing Arts Building, Room 320
Free and open to the public
Symposium Videos

Lecture: Anne Nesbet, Associate Professor of Slavic Languages & Literatures and Film & Media, UC Berkeley.
"Imitation as Mastery: What Eisenstein Learned from Marie-Antoinette's Breasts."

Psychology 105 Wednesday, November 4, 4:30 PM
Sponsored by the Reed Russian department
Free and open to the pubic.


Dalkey Archive Press has published Yuri Lotman’s Non–Memoirs, translated and annotated by Caroline Lemak Brickman, edited by Evgenii Bershtein, with an afterward by Caroline Lemak Brickman and Evgenii Bershtein. This book has resulted from Caroline Brickman’s senior thesis advised by Professor Bershtein. Caroline is currently a Ph.D. student in the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at UC, Berkeley.

Lecture: Mikhail Dolbilov, "Imperial Paradoxes of Nineteenth-Century Russian Nationalism"
Thursday, March 5, 4:30 PM
Eliot 314
This event is open to the public.

Mihail Dolbilov, associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, will examine complex relations between ethnic nationalism and the imperial project in 19th-century Russia. He will consider the questions of how “true Russianness” was imagined and how this notion affected Russian politics. Finally, he will suggest an explanation for the Russian nation’s peculiar mix of relative inclusiveness and upsurges of ethnic xenophobia. Sponsored by the Russian and history departments.

Lecture: Naya Lekht
Wednesday, February 25, 4:40 PM
Eliot 314

The Reed Russian Department invites you to attend a guest lecture by Naya Lekht of the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures at UCLA, who will address "What We Talk about When We Talk about Babi Yar: Politics and Symbolism of Commemorating the Holocaust in the Soviet Union."

Lecture: Professor Luba Golburt (UC, Berkeley), "The Rhetoric of Patronage in the Age of Catherine the Great"
Wednesday, November 19, 4:30 PM 
Eliot 314

This event is open to the public.

Largely as a result of its biased reading by the Romantics for whom independence was a prerequisite of creative genius, the Russian ode of the eighteenth century has been seen as presenting little aesthetic value because it openly addressed and flattered patrons and was often inspired by pragmatic concerns. In this talk, Golburt, associate professor in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that patronage need not be studied solely as the historical or social context of the ode, a context, moreover, presumed to detract from the genre's artistic merit. Even as patronage places constraints upon the ode's subject matter, it also inspires subtle and complex negotiations of the relationship between poetic speaker and addressee, the reach of the lyric voice, and the scope of the poet's historical vision. Rather than looking for aesthetic value elsewhere, in places that are not directly engaged in glorifying the patron, Golburt uses the example of Catherine the Great's court poet Vasilii Petrov (1736–1799) to examine patronage as in fact leading to significant formal experimentation. Sponsored by the Russian department.

Lecture: "Borders Left Unseen: Sino-Russian Geopolitics, and the Snare of the Visual in Zeng Pu's Flowers in a Sea of Sin"
Professor Roy Chan (U of Oregon, Eugene)
Eliot 314
Monday, November 10, 4:30pm

In this talk Prof. Chan will explain why the relationship between Russia/Soviet Union and China offers an instructive site for literary examination. What common geopolitical and historical forces motivated both countries' search for a new literature? How did these literatures' engagement with Russia and China's mutual fascination reveal a larger concern about their common place in a new modern world order? Moving on to a specific example, the talk will turn to the depiction of Russians in Zeng Pu's late-Qing novel Flowers in a Sea of Sin (Nie hai hua), first published shortly after the Russo-Japanese War. Prof. Chan will highlight the role of visuality as the central metaphor for modern knowledge. The novel's depiction of Chinese diplomatic engagements with the Russians emphasize the supposed necessity of an accurate visual knowledge of the world and China's new place in it. However, the novel cleverly suggests that visuality is not nearly as transparent as assumed – what can be seen carries its own deceptions, and what appears can induce blindness alongside revelation.

Sponsored by the Division of Literature and Languages. Open to the public.

Documentaries on contemporary life in Ukraine
Vollum Lecture Hall
Wednesday, November 5, 6pm

The Departments of Sociology, Political Science and Russian invite the public to a screening of documentary shorts by Babylon '13 - Cinema of Civil Protest. Babylon '13 is a Ukrainian film collective chronicling the experience of protest, war and invasion in contemporary Ukraine. The screening will be followed by a discussion with director Yuri Gruzinov, a member of Babylon '13. Selections of the collective's work are available at their website,

For information please contact Professor Alexandra Hrycak at


Russian Department Visiting Lecturer Series: Nila Friedberg, “The Anatomy of Verse: Meter and Meaning in Russian Poetry”
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
5:30 p.m., Vollum 228
Nila Friedberg, associate professor of Russian at Portland State University, is coeditor of Formal Approaches to Poetry: Recent Developments in Metrics (Mouton de Gruyter, 2002) and author of numerous scholarly articles on versification. Her lecture focuses on the work “Brodvej,” by Vladimir Mayakovsky. Sponsored by the Reed Russian Department. Free and open to the public.

Moscow 1941: Memory, Commemoration, Memorialization
William C. Brumfield, Professor of Russian, Tulane University; Fellow, State Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences.
Thursday, November 14, 2013 4:40 p.m., Eliot 314.
The talk is sponsored by the Russian department; it is free and open to the public.

Evening of Russian Poetry
Thursday, December 5, 5:30-7:30pm, Vollum Lounge

Reality Principle, Construction of a New Life: Soviet Graphic Arts and Photography, from the Reed College Art Collection, 1905-1990
November 5 – December 15, 2013, The Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery

Academic symposium
Saturday, December 7, 1–5pm
Vollum Lounge, Reed College campus
Refreshments provided

"To Russian and Back Again: The Collection"
Stephanie Snyder, Cooley Gallery, Reed College

"Curating the Soviet Past"
James Von Geldern, Macalester College

"Happy and Healthy: Food, Memory, and History in the Stalin Era"
Anya von Bremzen

"In Search of a 'True' Pster: Soviet Design from Oktyabr' through the Cold War"
Jill Bugajski, Northwestern University

"Fotoglaz: Photographic Re-Presentation of Soviet Reality"
Lena Lencek and Kate Weinreich, Reed College

"'The Commissar' (1967): Literary Intersections and Mythology"
Marat Grinberg, Reed College

More information at


Eugene Onegin: Pushkin's Novel in Verse, Tchaikovsky’s Opera, a Russian Theme
A symposium at Reed College, April 5-6, 2013. Free and open to the public. More information.

"The Problems of Equivalency in Translation"
Professor Larissa Naiditsch  will speak on "The Problems of Equivalency in Translation" this Thursday, February 7 at 4:30 PM, in Eliot 207.  Larissa Naiditsch is a prominent German and Slavic philologist  at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she is Associate Professor of Linguistics. The talk is sponsored by the Russian department; it is free and open to the public.

Symposium: "Russia - Italy: Cases of Cultural Appropriation"
The Russian Department at Reed College is hosting a symposium on the topic "Russia - Italy: Cases of Cultural Appropriation"  which brings together scholars studying specific instances of the Russian artistic, literary, and critical response to the cultural legacy of Italy. The symposium is sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Faculty and the Russian Department of Reed College. 

Saturday, October 27,  2012
"Russia: Italy - Cases of Cultural Appropriation"
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Biology Auditorium
Reed College 

Panel Presentations: 10:00 am - noon

Introductory Remarks
"Arresting Change: P.P Muratov 's Italophilia"
Lena Lencek, Reed College

"Marinetti or Mayakovsky? Three Avant-garde Manifestos"
Harsha Ram, University of California, Berkeley 

Panel Presentations: 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

"Uncanny Archaeology: Khodasevich, Pompeii, and Russia's Remains"
Jenifer Presto, University of Oregon, Eugene

"(Re)visions: Italian influence in post-medieval Russian religious painting"
William Brumfield, Tulane University

Roundtable Discussion: 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Moderator:  Michele Matteini, Reed College

Sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty and the Russian Department. Free and Open to the Public

Screenings of Alexander's Sokurov's "Faust"
Two screenings of Alexander Sokurov's latest film "Faust " (2011), co-sponsored by the Reed Russian and German departments, will take place at the Northwest Film Center (1219 SW Park Ave): on Saturday, October 27, at 7 PM, and on Sunday, October 28, at 4:30 PM.  The Sunday screening will be introduced by Reed Professors Michael Taylor (German) and Evgenii Bershtein (Russian). The screenings are free for all members of the Reed community: just  show your ID at the doors.  "Faust," based on Goethe's tragedy, won the Venice Film Festival last year. Directed by the leading Russian director, the film is in German with English subtitles.

Professor Michael Kunichika (New York University)
"Areas of Deformation: Dziga Vertov, Salvage Archeology, and Soviet Industrial Modernity"
Monday, October 22, 4:30 PM.
Psychology 105.

In this talk, Michael Kunichika'99 examines the conjunction of archeology and Soviet industrial modernity in Dziga Vertov's film "The Eleventh Year" (1928). The film reflects a broader period predicament of what to do with the obdurate persistence of the past and the general anxiety produced by the sense that all that was solid would not simply melt into the air.

Sponsored by the Russian department and the Office for Institutional Diversity. Free and open to the public.


Lecture: Thomas Newlin (Associate Professor of Russian, Oberlin College)
"The Thermodynamics of Desire in Turgenev's Notes of a Hunter"
April 9, Monday, 5 PM, Eliot 314
The talk is sponsored by the Reed Russian department and open to the public.

Lecture: Irina Paperno
"Who, what am I? What ought I to do? Tolstoy in his Non-Fiction"
Monday, March 26, 4:30 PM. Psychology 105.
The lecture is sponsored by the Reed Russian department. It is free and open to the public.

Lecture: Gian Piero Piretto
"The Soviet Thing: On the Private Lives of Socialist Objects"
Monday, October 31, 4:30 p.m., Psychology 105
Professor Piretto teaches modern Russian literature and culture at the State University of Milan, Italy. This lecture is cosponsored by the Russian and anthropology departments, and open to the public.


Lecture: "Tolstoy and Shakespeare (Centennial Comments on a Very Famous Feud)"
Caryl Emerson, A. Watson Armour III University Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Chair of the Slavic Department, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University will present the lecture entitled "Tolstoy and Shakespeare (Centennial Comments on a Very Famous Feud)" on Monday, March 14, at 4:30, in Eliot 314. The lecture is sponsored by the division of literature and languages, and it is free and open to the public.

Eliot Stempf paper published
A research paper by Eliot Stempf (fall 2010; religion major) entitled "Gogol's 'The Portrait' and Russian Orthodox Iconography", written for Professor Lencek's seminar on Gogol and Dostoevsky, has been published in the current issue of VESTNIK, The Journal of Russian and Asian Studies. You will find the paper on line at:

Lecture: "Soviet Experience in Contemporary Russian Art"
Monday, November 15, 4:30 PM, Eliot 314
Stanislav Savitsky, Professor of Art History at Smolny College in St. Petersburg, Russia
Sponsored by the Russian department. Free and open to the public.

"Tolstoy in 1910: The Author is Dead, Long Live the Author"
This year the Reed Russian department will celebrate the life and work of Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) with a series of special events. The first in the series is the lecture by William Nickell "Tolstoy in 1910: The Author is Dead, Long Live the Author" (Monday, September 13, 4:30 PM, Psychology Auditorium). Dr. Nickell holds the Licker Research Chair at Cowell College, UC,Santa Cruz. He is the author of The Death of Tolstoy: Russia on the Eve, Astapovo Station, 1910 (Cornell University Press, 2010). The lecture is free and open to the public.


"'I Smoke therefore I am’: Smoking as Liberation in Nineteenth-Century Europe and Russia”
a lecture by Professor Konstantine Klioutchkine (Pomona College)
Thursday, March 25, at 5 p.m. in Biology 19.

Sponsored by the Russian department. Free and open to the public.

Vladimir Rannev, a prominent St. Petersburg composer, musicologist, and music columnist for the daily Kommersant, will be the guest of the Russian 300 class on Tuesday, November 24, at 6:10 PM. The class meets in Vollum 234. Rannev will speak on "Tradition and Innovation in Contemporary Russian Music." The talk is open to all members of the Reed community but please note that it will be presented in Russian, without translation.

Please email Zhenya Bershtein for further information.

Faculty Research Roundtable
Evgenii Bershtein, Associate Professor of Russian, and Matt Kendall, senior Russian major, will present on their Lankford-funded project:

"Sex, Decadence, and Exploitation: Sergei Eisenstein between Oscar Wilde and Karl Marx."

Wednesday, November 18, 5:00-6:30 pm, in Eliot 103.
Light refreshments will be served.
Open to the members of the Reed community.

The Reed Russian departments present the public lecture

"Bergelson, Benjamin, and Berlin: Justice Deferred"
by Harriet Murav
Thursday, October 29 at 5:30 p.m., at Biology 19

Harriet Murav is professor of Slavic languages and literatures and comparative literature at the University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign. She has a Ph.D. from Stanford University and is the author of Holy Foolishness: Dostoevsky's Novels & the Poetics of Cultural Critique, the award-winning Russia's Legal Fictions, and Identity Theft: The Jew in Imperial Russia and the Case of Avraam Uri Kovner. She is currently working on a new book, Music from a Speeding Train: Russian Jewish and Soviet Yiddish Literature of the 20th Century.

"'When I Served the Post as a Coachman': Circulation and Empire in Russia's 18th Century"
by John Randolph
Monday, September 21 at 4:30 PM, at Eliot 314.

John Randolph is Associate Professor of History and Conrad Humanities scholar at the University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign. He has the Ph.D. from UC, Berkeley and is the author of *The House in the Garden: The Bakunin Family and the Romance of Russian Idealism* (Cornell UP, 2007). His book won a number of awards: the 2008 Lincoln Prize given by the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies; the 2008 AATSEEL prize for Best Book in Literary/Cultural Studies; Honorable Mention for the Vucinich Prize given by the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies.

The event is free and open to the public.


Lena Lencek has published a new book in collaboration with Piero Brunello, Professor of Social History at the University of Venice in Italy.

HOW TO WRITE LIKE CHEKHOV. ADVICE AND INSPIRATION, STRAIGHT FROM HIS OWN LETTERS AND WORK. Ed. and introduced by Piero Brunello and Lena Lencek, Translated from the Russian and Italian by Lena Lencek. De Capo Press, 2008.

Some book mentions in media:

Review in Metro Spirit

"An insightful, practical outline of Chekhov's literary approach. Following Lenček's intelligent introduction, advice is helpfully broken down by topic... Both Chekhov's correspondence and his excerpts prove interesting and illustrative... Including a 'who's who' of Chekhov's pen pals and suggestion for further reading, this is a useful and smart guide for writers of all kinds." --Publishers Weekly, starred online review.

Mention in OPRAH [PDF 448k]

Thursday, October 30, 5 PM, Biology 19
Poetry reading: Rome-based Russian poet Alexandra Petrova , introduced by
Prof. Evgenii Bershtein, will read her poems in Russian. Prof. Lena Lencek will read the English translations.

Sponsored by the Russian department and open to the public.

Monday, November 10, 6:30 PM, Psychology 105
Public Lecture: John Malmstad, Samuel Hazzard Cross Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University

Topic: Tradition and Invention: The World of Art (Mir Iskusstva)

Abstract: A survey of the modernist movement, founded by Sergei Diaghilev, Alexandre Benois and friends, that remade and renovated Russian art in the 1890s and first years of the twentieth century. Its impact on painting, publishing, exhibiting practice, design, and theater decor, culminating in the founding of the Ballets Russes, prepared the way for the emergence of the Russian avant-garde.

Sponsored by the Russian department. Open to the public.

Monday, November 10, 4-5:30 PM, Eliot 103
Seminar: John Malmstad, Samuel Hazzard Cross Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University

Topic: How a Russian Symbolist Poem Works.

Sponsored by the Russian department and open to the members of the Reed community (reading proficiency in Russian expected).


News from our current and recent students: Naomi Dickerson was awarded a $2,500 Initiative Grant for her senior thesis research on Russian Comics. Katya Bellis was awarded a Critical Languages Scholarship to study in Russian in the summer of 2008. Jonah Simpson was admitted for summer language study at Smolny. Matthew Kendall was admitted to summer session at Middlebury and the Middlebury program in Russia in the fall.

Among alumni, Angie Wilson, class of '03 ,Costume Curator at UC Berkeley in the Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies Department, has been admitted to the MFA Program in Textile Design at the California College of Arts and Crafts. Lauren Abman, a senior, has been selected as a Fulbright Fellow to Russia. Molly Cohen, also a senior, was selected as an alternate.

Please join us for the fifth annual Russian department two-week East European tour, January 4-19, 2008, beginning in Istanbul, proceeding to the Ukrainian cities of Kiev and Lvov, and ending in Moscow, with an optional third week in St. Petersburg and Novgorod the Great, January 19-26. The tour will be led by former Reed Russian professor Judson Rosengrant and offers a program of exceptional richness and value. For a detailed itinerary and other information, please contact Dr. Rosengrant at or 503.880.9521.

An essay by Evgenii Bershtein and Jesse Hadden '07 has been published by Art Margins. It focuses on the 2002 pornography case against the writer Vladimir Sorokin and the issues of cultural policy in Putin's Russia.