121 St. Joseph Street, Alumni Hall, 4th floor, Toronto

April 15

10:00-10:20 – Opening Remarks

Balkan Cultures: Self-Reflexivity and the Problem of Reception
Discussant: Professor Dubravka Zima
Chair: Olga Khometa

Julija Pesic, the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Toronto
Ideology, Identity and Subversive Humor in Dramatic Literature: A Case Study of the Play ‘Balkan Spy’ Written by Dusan Kovacevic

The paper will focus on Dusan Kovarevic’s play, Balkan Spy, and will examine his portrayal of realities and mentality. It will propose that the author problematized not only the socio-political and ideological context of his protagonist, but also interrogated the illusion about the identity of common man as a harmless little being in society.

Naike Trincas, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Stanford University
The First Translation of Boris Pasternak’s Poetry

The paper will examine the Yugoslav review Zenit, which published between 1921 and 1926, and which provided a meaningful voice amongst the international avant-garde artistic movement of the Twenties. It will take as its focus a special issue of Zenit, published in September/October 1922, and will discuss the significance of including Boris Pasternak’s poem Golod within the issue.


11:20-11:40 – Coffee break

Mythology of Soviet Identity
Discussant: Professor Leonid Livak
Chair: Barnabas Kirk

Maria Whittle, Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of California, Berkeley
The Spontaneous Body: The Paradox of Womanhood in the Soviet Master Plot

The paper will explore Vasily Grossman’s use of marginal identities within the socialist realist master plot in his 1934 short story, In the Town of Berdichev. It will discuss Grossman’s use of a pregnant female commissar in the place of the archetypically male positive hero, and examine the prominence and impact of Grossman’s Jewish shtetl chronotope in an otherwise traditional civil-war story.

Carley Campbell, the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (CERES), University of Toronto
Negotiating Identity and Value Systems under Stalinist Repression

The paper will examine the concepts of personal identity and societal control within the Stalinist-era of Soviet history. Focusing on the female experience of Stalinist repression, the paper will analyse the memoirs of Alla Turmanov, Eugenia Ginzburg, and Olga Adamova-Slizoberg, and assess how notions of self-perception and blame can shape and influence one’s individuality and personal values in oppressive regimes.


12:40-13:40 – Lunch

Keynote Lecture
Professor Luba Golburt, University of California, Berkeley
Patronage and Lyric Identity

15:00-15:20 – Break

Dark Times, Bright Decisions: Ukraine in the First Part of the 20th Century
Discussant: Professor Maxim Tarnawsky
Chair: Petr Budrin

Olga Khometa, Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Toronto
Review of Pavlo Tychyna’s Later Poetry (1930-1966)

The paper will review the poetry of Pavlo Tychyna, an eminent Ukrainian poet of the 20th century, and in particular, examine his later works from the period of 1930 to1966. It will demonstrate how Tychyna’s later output is a continuation of his early poetics and manner, rather than a rupture, and provide new insight into the poet’s voice and poetics in socialist realist literature.

Roman Tashlitskyy, Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Toronto
“Kievskaia Mysl’”: Cultural Life in Kyiv a Month before the February Revolution of 1917

The paper will deal with the cultural life in Kyiv in January 1917 based on the popular daily newspaper Kievskaia Mysl’. It will trace the everyday life of Kyivites and the satisfaction of their cultural demands: cinemas, theaters, music performances, public lectures, literary events; and what Kyivites read, listened to, watched, and discussed a month before the February Revolution of 1917, which resulted in the abdication of Nicholas II and triggered a series of events that changed the city’s regular lifestyle forever.


April 16

Themes and Literary Strategies in the 18th century
Discussant: Professor Tatiana Smoliarova
Chair: Marcin Cieszkiel

Petr Budrin, Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Toronto
Church, Literature, and Career in Politics: a Sternean Episode in the Life of Ivan Martynov (1771-1833)

The paper will discuss the life and personal evolution of Ivan Martynov (1771 – 1833), a prominent figure of the Russian Enlightenment. Examining Martynov’s contribution to periodicals, novels, letters, and memoirs, it will focus on the author’s reception and influence of the eminent novelist, Laurence Stern (1713-1768)

Barnabas Kirk, Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Toronto
The Transfiguration of Ophelia in Eighteenth-Century Russia: A Study of Alexander Sumarokov’s ‘Gamlet’ and the Renewed Significance of Ophelia

The paper will examine Alexander Sumarokov’s (1717-177) play, Gamlet (1974), taking as its primary point of reference the character of Ophelia. It will discuss the significance of the play’s literary origins, examine the wider genre of tragedy, and assess the contextual relevance and consequence of Sumarokov’s Ophelia in eighteenth-century Russia.

Alex Averbuch, Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Toronto
Between Ukrainianess and Imperiality: The Case of Vasilii Ruban (1742-1795)

To this day the perception of Vasilii Ruban—an 18th century Russian poet of Ukrainian origin—is still influenced by his failed literary career. Ruban’s case demonstrates the ideological conflict between the attitude of Ukrainian writers towards the Ukrainian-Kievan tradition and their practical orientation towards the social role attributed to litterateurs within the Russian-Peterburgian tradition. Ruban embodied the Otherness imputed to Ukrainian identity that was only beginning to find its literary expression. The paper will trace the nature of this strategy and explore the causes of its failure.


11:30-12:00 – Coffee break

Myth and Representation in Post-Soviet Reality
Discussant: Professor Kate Holland
Chair: Roman Tashlitskyy

Geordie Kenyon Sinclair, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
On Aleksei Fedorchenko’s ‘Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari’: Ethics of gendered and ethnic representation, and shadows of Sergei Parajanov

The paper will focus on the anthology film Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari (Russia, 2012), which presents 23 comical, cryptic, and supernatural stories about the sexual lives of Mari women. It will evaluate the ethical stakes of this project of representation, and discuss how such cinematic portrayals can form and fuse sexual and ethnic identity.

Elizabeth Morgan, Russian Studies Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, McGill University
Culture — Identity — (Contami)Nation: Re-contextualization of the Narod in Post-Soviet Literature

The paper will investigate the return by post-Soviet writers to the ‘Russian idea’ of national identity and its origins in literary history. The study will focus on the prevalence of the peasant narod, its tropes, and stereotypes in The Encyclopedia of the Russian Soul (Erofeev 1999), T: A Novel (Pelevin 2009), and I Came from Russia (Prilepin 2009). It will analyse how the revival of the Russian peasant archetype, whether through its reduction, neutralization or re-valorization, contests shared cultural memory within the “imagined community” of Russian nationals (rossiiskie) who identify as ethnic Russians (russkie).

Ian Garner, Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Toronto
Faith in Stalingrad: The Myth of the Battle, 1942 and 2016

The paper will explore the origins of the Stalingrad story as a myth born of the Soviet Union’s culture as political religion. It will compare the works of propagandists of the1940s’, such as Vasily Grossman and Konstantin Simonov, to Fedor Bondarchuk’s TV productions and 2013 blockbuster film, Stalingrad in Putin’s Russia, and will seek to explain why the Stalingrad story continues to be revered as an almost religious experience by Russian readers and viewers.



13:30-14:30 Lunch

Modernity in Extremis
Discussant: Professor Taras Koznarsky
Chair: Ian Garner

Marcin Cieszkiel, Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Toronto
What Happens When the Music Ends – Karol Szymanowski’s II Symphony in Victor Domontovych’s Novel ‘Bez Gruntu’

The paper will examine Victor Petrov-Demontovych’s (1894-1969) novel, Bez Gruntu (Rootless, 1948) alongside Karol Szymanowski’s (1882-1937) II Symphony. It will analyse the structure of the love affair portrayed in Bez Gruntu’s through the musical representations of Szymanowski, and examine the qualities of the II Symphony that shape the emotional and erotic constituents of its love affair.

Madelaina DePace, the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (CERES), University of Toronto
Blood Libel and Jewish Humor

The paper will examine the phenomenon of blood libel cases against Jews in the latter half of the nineteenth-century. It will focus on the literary reactions to the Beilis Affair of 1911-1913, and the Tiszaeszlár Affair of 1882-1883, and will incorporate an analysis of Sholom Aleichem’s novel, The Bloody Hoax, and Adolf Ágai’s contributions as editor to the Hungarian/Jewish humour magazine, Borsszem Jankó.

Stephen Gellner, the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (CERES), University of Toronto
“Eurasianist Ideology and the Changing Borders of the ‘Russian World'”

The paper will focus upon the contemporary resurgence of debate surrounding the ideology of Eurasianism, and the Russkyi Mir (Russian World). The study will focus on three countries in Russia’s ‘near abroad’, Ukraine, Turkey, and Syria, and will analyse how and to what extent Eurasian ideology is influencing Russian foreign policy.


Closing remarks