Matthew Kendall (Assistant Professor in the Department of Polish, Russian, and Lithuanian Studies, University of Illinois-Chicago) will give a lecture on “Revolutions per Minute: Sonic Inscription, Soviet Writing, and Mikhail Romm’s Oral Stories” on Thursday, October 26, 2023 at 4:00 pm in 206 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive.
About the lecture: In 1921, the poet Aleksandr Blok bemoaned the sonic aftermath of the Revolution from his deathbed, writing that “for a long time, no new sounds have been heard…it would be blasphemous, even deceitful, to consider how a space now silent once sounded.” But few writers heeded Blok’s warning. On the contrary, many were thrilled to inscribe their voices onto gramophone discs, and several explored or even mimicked the novel sensations that came with the 20th century’s technologies for reproducing sound in their literary texts. This talk examines a complicated relationship that emerged between sound recording and the Soviet literary establishment, which altered conceptions of authorship, attention, archive, and representation among both readers and practitioners. The prime example of this phenomenon for the lecture is Mikhail Romm’s Oral Stories, an audio memoir that Romm (who was primarily known as a film director) recorded with a magnetic tape recorder. Through a reading of Oral Stories and a discussion of Romm’s concerns with memory and historical preservation near the end of his career, Kendall shows how Soviet ideas of literary production and reception grew in dialogue with the growing relevance of sound recording in everyday life.
About the speaker: Matthew Kendall is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Polish, Russian, and Lithuanian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research broadly explores the various intersections, relationships, and rivalries that formed between literary writing, popular filmmaking, and mechanical recording technologies in the 20th century, and he has published on topics including Soviet 3D cinema, Russian digital games, and the history of Soviet sound recording in Russian Review, Russian Literature, and Slavic Review. His book project, Revolutions per Minute, is a cultural history of Soviet sound recording that explores this recording technique’s impact on literary and cinematic production in the first half of the Soviet century.
This event is part of the CREECA lecture series, which is held on Thursdays at 4:00 pm. Coffee, tea, and cookies served starting at 3:45.