Speakers Fall 2016

Section 1



1 September - New directions lecture

Mark D. Steinberg, "Leaping into the Open Air of History: The Russian Revolution and the Utopian Imagination"
4pm, 407 Illini Union (1401 W. Green St., Urbana)

As the centenary of the Russian Revolution approaches, this lecture revisits the question of "utopianism" - conventionally a negative charge of fanciful desire, wishful illusion, or worse - through three radical lives: Alexandra Kollontai, Lev Trotsky, and Vladimir Mayakovsky.

Mark D. Steinberg has been teaching in the Department of History at the University of Illinois since 1996. He received his PhD from UC Berkeley, and previously taught at Harvard and Yale Universities. He has also served as Director of REEEC and Editor of Slavic Review. His most recent book was Petersburg Fin-de-Siecle (Yale University Press, 2011).

Co-Sponsored by: Center for Global Studies

9 September - Russian Studies Panel

"Building a Russian University"
1pm, 101 International Studies Building (910 S. Fifth St., Champaign)

In 2010, then President Dmitry Medvedev announced a major federal government project to build an "innovation center" in Skolkovo, on the western edge of Moscow. Intended to address, Russia's longstanding over-dependence on petroleum exports and its dearth of entrepreneurship, Skolkovo is an ambitious effort to build advanced technology laboratories and corporate incubator space adjacent to a complementary, new graduate research university, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, or Skoltech. Also included in the project are housing and civic infrastructure.

Models for Skolkovo include Silicon Valley, and the government sought to install at its heart a western-style university wherein faculty, researchers, and students are actively engaged with business, both startups and existing corporations, to exploit intellectual property. MIT was selected in 2011 as the university exemplar, mentor, and development partner under a five-year, $300 million dollar contract to develop the institutional and research programs, hire faculty, recruit students, and collaborate on design of the physical campus and development of the administrative support structure. The Skoltech master plan called for completion of the new campus by 2016 with 300 faculty hired and masters and doctoral students in residence by that time.

In essentially all dimensions, then, the Skolkovo vision and timetable were extremely aggressive. Moreover, since 2010, Medvedev was replaced by Putin as president, the price of oil plummeted, and Russia annexed Crimea. Where do Skoltech and Skolkovo stand today, and what can be learned from this remarkable effort at academic and economic transformation?


Edward Seidel ( Director of Naitonal Center for Supercomputing Applications; Founder Professor of Physics and Professor of Astronomy, University of Illinois)
Gabrielle Allen (Professor of Astronomy, University of Illinois; Associate Director for Computational Research and Education Programs, National Center for Supercomputing Applications)
Dan Updegrove (Consultant on IT and financial strategy, planning and management in higher education; principal consultant to the MIT-Skoltech Project in 2013)

20 September - Noontime Scholars lecture

Jasmina Savic, "Into the Bright Future: Mikhail Armalinsky's Literary Revolution and Poetics of Porn"
12pm, 101 Interational Studies Building (910 S. Fifth St., Champaign)

Jasmina Savic addresses how pornography reemerges in the late-Soviet culture as an alternative discourse to the official ideology and Russian literary tradition. Due to its provocative content and greatly obscene language, Mikhail Armalinsky's pornographic oeuvre appears to challenge Soviet puritanism and break the scope of taboo practice of sex in Russian culture. The case of Mikhail Armalinsky's controversial publication of Pushkin A. S. Secret Notes 1836-1837 illustrates the way literary pornography compromises the image of "asexual" Soviet society by provoking the public body to partake in an "orgy" of sexual discourses. In Armalinsky's hands, Pushkin's Secret Notes become a discursive sexual device par excellence used to disclose sexual powerlessness of Soviet intellectuals, distort the socialist rhetoric, and shake foundations of establishment built upon the Pushkin myth.

Jasmina Savic is a PhD Candidate in Slavic Languages and Literatures at UIUC. She received her Bachelor's Degree from Belgrade University, and holds a Master's degree in Slavic Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research interests encompass issues of sexuality, erotica and pornography of the late- and post-Soviet times.

22 September - new Directions lecture

Douglas Blum, "Explaining Cultural Globalization: A Synthesis of Bourdieusian and Critical Realist Approaches"
4pm, 223 Gregory Hall (810 S. Wright St., Urbana)

On the basis of extensive fieldwork in Kazakhstan, Douglas Blum considers the experiences of young people who spent time in the US, asking what cultural "baggage" they brought home with them, and whether they were able to incorporate new values and practices into their lives. He argues that by building on insights from Bourdieu and Archer, we can explain not only the findings in this case, but also broader patterns of continuity and change within globalization. This lecture builds on the thesis of his recent book, The Social Process of Globalization: Return Migration and Cultural Change in Kazakhstan (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Douglas Blum is Professor of Political Science at Providence College. He has published on a variety of issues, ranging from the connections between ideology and foreign policy to problems of energy, geopolitics, and environmentalism in the Caspian Sea region. In recent years, his research has centered on the connections between globalization and identity in the former USSR. His works include The Social Progess of Globalization: Return Migration and Cultural Change in Kazakhstan (Cambridge University Press, 2016), as well as National Identity and Globalization: Youth, State and Society in Post-Soviet Eurasia (Cambridge University Press, 2007), and a volume from the project he directed, Russia and Globalization: Identity, Security and Society in an Era of Change (Johns Hopkins University Press and Woodrow Wilson Center, 2008). He received his PhD in Political Science from Columbia University in 1991.

23 September - Panel Discusion

Eugene Onegin Public Panel Discussion
3:30pm, 100 Gregory Hall

The Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center will be holding a (free) public panel discussion around Eugene Onegin. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.


  • Eddie Aronoff (Producer of Stage Russia HD)
  • Olga Maslova (Assistant Professor of Costume Design, University of Illinois)
  • Valeria Sobol (Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Illinois)

24 September - film Screening

Stage Russia Presents: Eugene Onegin
11:00am, Art Theater (126 W. Church St., Champaign)

Alexander Pushkin's literary masterwork brought to life by the incomparable Stage Russia

PG, 210 minutes

Presented in Partnership with the UIUC Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center and the Theater Department and featuring Stage Russia producer Eddie Aronoff

Stage Russia and renowned director Rimas Tuminas bring a live-filmed production of the Vakhtangov Theatre's magical Eugene Onegin, a newly reimagined version of the Alexander Pushkin poem. Eugene Onegin has often been referred to as an encyclopedia of 19th century Russian life, and Tuminas' production unfolds in the memory and imagination of Pushkin's characters.

Narratively, Eugene Onegin tells the story of two sets of lovers: Eugene and Tatyana, and Vladimir and Olga. Onegin, the hardened socialite, rejects the love of passionate Tatyana while Vladimir falls head over heels for her sister Olga. Pushkin's classic uses this simple story to combine the virtues of painstaking and nuanced character development with wit, pathos, and charm into a heralded mediation on the modern human coalition.

For more information, please see http://www.arttheater.coop/stage-russia-presents-eugene-onegin/ (note that the correct time for the panel discussion on Sept. 23 is 3:30 PM)

27 September - Workshop

Translation Workshop with Canadian Poet and Translator Erin Moure
4:00-5:30pm, 1024 Lincoln Hall (702 S. Wright St., Urbana)

Join Erin Moure for a workshop on translating poetry! No prior translating experience required, and the workshop is open to students and faculty of all levels and programs. Although some knowledge of German, French or Spanish or another language will certainly help; it's not essential; curiosity is the biggest prerequisite! You will learn lots about the movement of meaning between languages, and how this is determined not just by dictionaries, but by cadence and structure. Please join us even if your translating aspirations do not involve poetry: knowledge gained from the intensive task of translating poetry is easily applied in translating other kinds of texts!

Erin Moure has published 16 books of poetry, a book of essays, and has translated or co-translated 15 volumes and 1 chapbook of poetry into English from French, Spanish, Galician, Portuguese and Ukrainian, by poets such as Nicole Brossard (with Robert Majzels), Andres Ajens, Louise Dupre, Rosalia de Castro, Chus Pato, Lupe Gomez (with Rebeca Lema Martinez), Fernando Pessoa and Yuri Izdryk (with Roman Ivashkiv). Her work has received the Governor General's Award, Pat Lowther Memorial Award, A.M. Klein Prize twice, and has been a three-time finalist for the Griffin Prize. Her latest works are Insecession (BookThug 2014), an autobiography and poetics published in one volume with Chus Pato's biopoetics Secession, and Kapusta (Anansi, 2015), a sequel to her book The Unmentionable, which speaks of the Second World War as lived in Ukraine and northern Alberta. Just appeared or forthcoming are: translations of Francois Turcot's My Dinosaur (BookThug) and Chus Pato's Flesh of Leviathan (Omnidawn), as well as an essay, "Tuteshni," in Unbound: Ukrainian Canadians Writing Home (U. Toronto, ed. L. Grekul and L. Ledohowski); her translation of Rosalia de Castro's New Leaves (Small Stations); German poet Uljana Wolf's translation of her O Cadoiro (roughbooks). Moure holds two honorary doctorates from universities in Canada and Spain, and was recently awarded the Woodberry Poetry Room Creative Fellowship for 2016-2017 at Harvard.

Co-Sponsored by: Center for Translation Studies; Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center; Department of Spanish and Portuguese; Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures

27 September - Poetry reading

Poetry as History: Kapusta! Cabbage!
7:00pm, Lucy Ellis Lounge, 1080 Foreign Languages Building (707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana)

Canadian poet and translator Erin Moure reads from Kapusta, her most recent book of poetry - written in English and French, in the form of a cabaret or musical or play - and speaks of the relation between poetry and history, in instances where imagination is needed to tell a story.

Co-Sponsored by: Center for Translation Studies; Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center; Department of Spanish and Portuguese; Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures



Alex Rabinowitch, "The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the Birth of Soviet Russia: Centennial Reflections"
4pm, 126 Graduate School of Library and Information Science

Prof. Rabinowitch will share his views on the Bolsheviks and the Outcome of the Russian Revolution of 1917 developed during a professional lifetime exploring various aspects of this still highly controversial subject.

A graduate of Knox College, Alex Rabinowitch received his MA from the University of Chicago in International Relations (1961) and his PhD in Russian history from Indiana University (1965). He is now Emeritus Professor of History at Indiana University, where he began teaching in 1968, and Associate Research Scholar, St. Petersburg Institute of History, Russian Academy of Sciences. Rabinowitch's historical research and writing has focused on the revolutionary and civil war eras in Russian history. He was one of the first Western scholars permitted to conduct research on Communist Party history in Soviet archives, including the former KGB archive. A specialist on the revolutions, he is the author of Prelude to Revolution: The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 Uprising (Indiana University Press, 1968), The Bolsheviks Come to Power: The 1917 Revolution in Petrograd (Norton, 1976), and The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd (Indiana University Press, 2007). Rabinowitch has received many honors for his scholarship. He has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the International Research and Exchanges Board, Fulbright-Hays, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies, and of the Council on Foreign Relations; a Senior Fellow at the Harriman Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at Columbia University and at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the recipient of the 2015 ASEEES Award for Distinguished Contributions to Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

21 october - Hungarian Revolution Conference

New Directions in the Scholarship on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution Conference: Memory and the Transnational Impact 60 Years Later
9:00am - 5:30pm, 104 Illini Union (1401 W. Green St., Urbana)

Organized by: Zsuzsa Gille (University of Illinois) and Richard Esbenshade (University of Illinois)

Stefano Bottoni (Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
Kenneth Cuno (University of Illinois)
Peter Kenez (University of California, Santa Cruz)
Arpad Klimo (University of Pittsburgh)
Maya Nadkarni (Swarthmore College)
David Ost (Hobart and William Smith Colleges)
Emanuel Rota (University of Illinois)

Co-sponsored by: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; European Union Center; Center for Global Studies; and Department of Anthropology

25 october - millercom lecture

Masha Gessen, "Retrofitting Totalitarianism in Putin's Russia"
4pm, Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum (600 S. Gregory Ave., Urbana)

Since starting his third presidential term in March 2012, Vladimir Putin has refashioned himself as an ideological leader. His ideology is that of "traditional values." Masha Gessen tells the story of the creation of that ideology, beginning with the antigay campaign, ballooning into a civilizational mission, and culminating with war - whether in Ukraine or in Syria, it is against the United States. The creation of ideology went hand-in-hand with a political crackdown - the arrests of peaceful protesters, the attack on NGOs - and together, they set in motion a process unlike any we have ever seen. The mechanisms of life under totalitarianism kicked back in, often apparently set in motion at the ground level rather than imposed from the top.

Masha Gessen is one of the world's leading journalists and critics of contemporary Russian culture and politics, including LGBT issues. She is the author of several books, including Perfect Rigor, Blood Matters, Ester and Ruzya, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot and The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy. Her most recent book is Where the Jews Aren't: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan.

Co-sponsored by: Center for Advanced Study; The Program in Jewish Culture & Society/Krouse Family Visiting Scholars in Judaism and Western Culture Fund; Cline Center for Democracy; Department of Anthropology; Department of English; Department of Gender & Women's Studies; Department of History; Department of Journalism; Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures; Department of Sociology; Hillel; Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center; Program in Comparative & World Literature; Spurlock Museum; Women & Gender in Global Perspectives Program


10 november - new directions lecture

Yuliya Zabyelina, "The Urge to Purge: Lustration in Ukraine during Ongoing Conflict"
4:00 pm, 101 International Studies Building (910 S. Fifth Street, Champaign)

Having started as a demonstration for closer European integration, the 2014 Ukrainian revolution (Euromaidan) rapidly transformed into a nation-wide movement against widespread human rights violations and corruption. One of the main demands of Euromaidan activists to the new government was to launch a comprehensive personnel reform that would cleanse the state apparatus from public officials of the Communist era and those of the Yanukovych regime.

The presentation will discuss the existing transitional justice literature on lustration (screening and mass disqualification of public officials associated with the abuses under the prior regime) from a comparative perspective and analyze the applicability of experiences in Central Eastern Europe and countries of the Arab Spring (MENA region) to post-Euromaidan Ukraine.

Dr. Yuliya Zabyelina is Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at City University of New York (CUNY). Before moving to the United States, she held a postdoctoral position at the University of Edinburgh School of Law and lectured at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. Dr. Zabyelina's research focuses on issues of global governance and failed states, foreign policy and international cooperation, transnational organized crime and corruption. Not only has she published broadly in edited books, peer-reviewed journals and specialized policy magazines, but has also been recognized with numerous awards, including the Academy of Criminal Justice SAGE Junior Faculty Teaching Award (2015), The Aleksanteri Institute Visiting Scholars Fellowship (2015) and the Donald EJ MacNamara Junior Faculty Award (2016).

15 november - noontime scholars lecture

Anca Mandru, "'Born through literary critique': Early Romanian Socialism and the Literary Marketplace"
12:00 pm, 101 Iinternational Studies Building (910 S. Fifth Street, Champaign)

With a feeble socialist movement before World War I and the smallest communist underground in the Balkans during the interwar era, Romania seems the paradigmatic case of communism arriving in Eastern Europe "on the back of Soviet tanks." In fact, a strictly political and institutional history of socialism obscures the emergence of an influential leftist tradition that evolved parallel to and sometimes independently from formal political organizations. In particular, socialism made a striking entrance on the Romanian cultural scene through its intervention in high-profile debates on the relation between literature, art and society. This lecture will address the rise and reception of a specifically socialist literary criticism, and discuss the work of Constantin Dobrogeanu-Gherea, the leading socialist theoretician in Romania. While largely unknown in the West, his writings anticipated those of later and more famous Marxist cultural critics like Georg Lukacs and Antonio Gramsci, and contributed to the creation of a distinctly socialist public and culture.


These speaker events are funded in part by the Department of Education Title VI grant for the National Resource Centers Program