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RACE IN FOCUS: New Directions in Research: Russian Literature in the 19th and 20th Centuries

February 5, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm


PART 1. New Directions in Research

Russian Literature in the 19th and 20th Centuries

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Join us to hear from distinguished scholars and educators about methods for incorporating critical pedagogies of race into teaching about language, culture, history, and society in Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia.

Among the first African Americans to join the American Communist Party and an important architect of communist approaches to race, racism, and African American equality, Lovett Fort- Whiteman (1889-1939) was one of the US citizens convinced (naively, to be sure) that Soviet society showed the way for overcoming racism in the United States. While visiting the USSR in 1924, Fort-Whiteman wrote to W.E.B. Du Bois: “There is a perfect spirit of internationalism here.” “Women from the various Circassian republics and Siberia, men from China, Japan, Korea, India, etc. all live as one large family, look upon one another simply as human beings … Here, life is poetry itself! It is the Bolshevik idea of social relations, and a miniature of the world of tomorrow.”

Communist positions on race and racism have yielded both successes and failures worldwide since 1917. Despite the mixed results, Fort-Whiteman’s words recall the impact that global colonialism has had on the social construction of identity, including in our world region; its legacy on research and teaching in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (SEEES); and its effect on perpetuating systemic inequities in academia as a whole. To address this legacy, this series is designed to elevate conversations about teaching on race and continued disparities in our field while also bringing research by scholars from underrepresented minorities and/or on communities of color to the center stage.

The series will comprise four segments: two pedagogy webinars; two lighting rounds on the experience of scholars of color in the field; and two roundtables featuring research by scholars from underrepresented minorities and/or on racial minorities, concluding with a forum on the reception of the Black Lives Matter movement in our field.


Bella Grigoryan is an Associate Professor and Chair of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on 18th- and 19th- century Russian literature and Culture, Russian imperial politics and aesthetics, and Global contexts of Russian imperial cultural production. She is the author of Noble Subjects: The Russian Novel and the Gentry, 1762-1861 (Northern Illinois University Press, 2018).



José Vergara is an Assistant Professor of Russian at Swarthmore College. His current primary research project explores the ways in which five major Russian authors—Yury Olesha, Vladimir Nabokov, Andrei Bitov, Sasha Sokolov, and Mikhail Shishkin—responded to James Joyce. José Vergara completed his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.





Lindsay Ceballos is an Assistant Professor of Russian and East European Studies at Lafayette College. Lindsay’s research focuses on the novels and cultural legacy of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian modernism, and late-19th century literature, theater, and religious culture. Her book project is titled Dostoevsky’s Disciples: Religion and National Ideology in Russian Culture, 1881–1913.




February 5, 2021
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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