Lecture: Dostoevsky on Catholicism: The Real and the Ideal


Location: 136 DeBartolo

Program for the Study of Russian and East European Societies and Cultures presents a lecture by Elizabeth Blake, Assistant Professor of Russian, St. Louis University.

The monograph Dostoevsky and the Catholic Underground (Northwestern, 2014) focuses on the literary, social, and cultural movements linked to lived Catholicism in Dostoevsky’s major works. This lecture will explore how Dostoevsky draws on iconic Catholic historical and literary figures (e.g., Napoleon Bonaparte, Galileo Galilei, Don Quixote, and various inquisitors) that appeared in famous writings and agitational literature of his day to create ideals for his Russian characters. Connecting the rediscovery of Aristotle to the Renaissance, he describes a broadening of human thought in an age of faith (with Shakespeare, Raphael, and the Reformation) alongside the age of discovery (of America and the revolutions of heavenly bodies). At the same time, because Dostoevsky recognizes that in his age Catholics continued to brandish the sword, the lecture will also outline his real concerns about Jesuit intrigue, Polish revolutionaries, and papal infallibility.

Dr. Elizabeth Blake, Assistant Professor of Russian at Saint Louis University, graduated cum laude in Russian Studies and French from The College of William and Mary and earned a Ph.D. in Slavic Literatures and Linguistics from The Ohio State University. In the spring of 2015, she was a guest scholar at Jagiellonian University while in Krakow digitizing archival documents relating to the Petrashevtsy and Polish Siberians in preparation for a second monograph, Dostoevsky’s Siberia: Representing Trauma. Over the past year, she has given invited lectures on her first book, Dostoevsky and the Catholic Underground (Northwestern 2014) at Fordham, Georgetown, Princeton, and Washington Universities. Her articles on Russian and Polish literature and religious traditions have appeared in Slavic and East European Journal, Dostoevsky Studies, Studies in East European Thought, and Polish Review as well as in edited collections.

Sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Northwestern University Press.