Notre Dame hosts Pushkin scholars

Author: Arts and Letters


The University of Notre Dame will host scholars from around the globe Jan. 9 to 11 (Friday to Sunday) as they gather to discuss “Alexander Pushkin and Russian National Identity: Taboo Texts, Topics, Interpretations.”

Featuring keynote presentations, panels and a roundtable discussion, this working conference will not only explore Pushkin’s texts, but also will involve a discussion of their place in Russian culture, since Pushkin, the “father of Russian literature,” is so closely identified with Russian national identity and pride.

This year marks the 210th anniversary of Pushkin’s birth. Organized by Alyssa Gillespie, associate professor of Russian at Notre Dame, the conference takes advantage of many of the new archival, interpretive and collaborative possibilities that have arisen with the fall of the Soviet Union.

In every historical era (tsarist, Soviet and post-Soviet), Pushkin’s writings and biography have been co-opted for ideological purposes. The canonical Pushkin is a sanitized, purified, selective Pushkin—and thus, throughout the history of Pushkin studies, certain topics, texts and interpretations have remained taboo. The scholars presenting at the conference will challenge some of these taboos in pursuit of a fuller understanding of Pushkin himself, his artistic legacy and his relevance to contemporary cultural debates.

Topics to be addressed include the history of taboos in Russian culture, discourse surrounding Pushkin’s image and legacy in current-day Russia, and aspects of Pushkin’s life and works that have not yet been explored in full due to sensitive sexual, religious and/or political content.

Principal speakers for the event will be Caryl Emerson of Princeton University and Oleg Proskurin of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Other presenters include leading scholars of Pushkin from Russia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and across the United States.

The conference is sponsored by Notre Dame’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies, with support from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts and Office of Research.

More information and the conference schedule, including a complete listing of participants, panel topics and paper titles, are available on the Web at . To register to attend the conference as an audience member, contact Alyssa Gillespie at

Contact: Alyssa Gillespie,

Originally published by Julie Hail Flory at on January 08, 2009.