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Welcome to Russian Studies

Heir to Chekhov: On the Life and Works of Alexander Vampilov

With award-winning productions in Russia, Canada, the US and Japan behind him, director and professor of the performing arts, Alexandre Marine brings to Montréal this year Provincial Anecdotes by Alexandre Vampilov.  Widely seen as Chekhov’s heir in the post-Stalin Thaw, Vampilov spoke with a quiet dignity and understated irony far ahead of and deeply rooted in his times.

March 31, 2008, 16:00
Arts Building, ARTS 260 )

Kuzmin, Kharitonov and Russian Gay Identity. An exploration of Russian gay history through two literary manifestoes: Kuzmin's Wings (1906) and Kharitonov's Leaflet (1970s)

The Department of Russian & Slavic Studies presents Prof. Kevin Moss (Middlebury University)
Thursday, March 20, 2008 4:00pm
688 Sherbrooke St. West, room 1041

The Bronze Horseman, Saint-Petersburg, and Translation in Eighteenth-Century Russia

The Department of Russian & Slavic Studies presents Sergey Tyulenev
Thursday, November 15, 4:30pm
688 Sherbrooke St. West, room 1265

What is the connection, you might wonder, between a statue, a city and translation? Clifford Geertz wrote that ideological metaphors are symbolic maps. The statue of Peter the Great, the Bronze Horseman, the city of Saint-Petersburg, “Peter’s Creation” (Pushkin), are such metaphor-maps of major social reforms carried out through translation: therefore translation constitutes yet another dimension of these maps.

Heart of an Intelligent: Popular History and the Justification of Class Revival in Russia

The Centre for Developing-Area Studies (CDAS) and Department of Anthropology have sponsored a visit by Prof. Michele Rivkin-Fish (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Anthropology).

Mon., January 21, 2008
12:30 PM to 2 PM

The Canadian Foundation for Polish Studies presents a lecture by Professor Tadeusz Piotrowski, Professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, on the subject of his most recent published book. The lecture will take place at McGill University, in Leacock 232, on Thursday, November 29th at 7:30pm. A book signing will follow the lecture. Admission is free and everyone is welcome!


Film Series

Last semester, a group of undergraduate students in the department organized and presented an informal Russian Pop Culture Film Series focussed on films that are entertaining, provocative, and downright funny. Examples were Russian TV, Soviet-era cartoons, Tarkovsky, a few classics, some newer blockbusters, and a few music videos. As much as possible the works were subtitled in English.

  • The movie schedule is as follows:
  • Feb. 14 - Peter FM (2006)
  • Feb. 28 - Moscow Doesn't Believe in Tears (1979)
  • March 7 - Russian Ark (2002) (with Hossein Mehdizadeh)
  • March 14 -Window to Paris (1994)
  • March 21 - The Return (2003)
  • March 28 - Pokrov Gates (1982)
  • April 7 - Cartoons! (Nu Pogodi and others)

OBERIU and Russian Absurdist Poetry & Philosophy, 1926-1941

Prof Eugene Ostashevsky - New York University

This talk will take place March 16, 2007, 2pm - 4pm, at Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West, HALL BUILDING, Room H-760.

The lecture will be followed by a performance by Prof Ostashevsky and MatveI Yankelevich of selected pieces from the anthology.

Born in St. Petersburg and raised in NYC, Eugene Ostashevsky is the author of numerous books of poetry, and editor of OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism.

This talk is being sponsored by the English Department and Études françaises at Concordia University, the English Department and Department of Russian & Slavic Studies at McGill University as well as Études anglaises at the Université de Montréal and SLS Russia. For more information please call 514-848-2424.

The unprecendented role of the "Word" in the Art of the Soviet Film.
Gennady Shpalikov (1937-1974) – poet and scriptwriter in the Soviet 1960s.

by Boris Kletinich

  • Thursday, March 15
  • 4:30 p.m.
  • Room 1041, 688 Sherbrooke Street West

The department welcomes Boris Kletinich, Montreal scriptwriter and singer, who will speak on this little known but remarkable Soviet writer and director.

Since his death by suicide 1974 Gennady Shpalikov has continued to be considered as one of the most talented Soviet writers and directors of his time.

Boris Kletinich was born in Kishinev, Moldova, near the Black Sea. He started publishing poems at the age of 15 in the local Moldavian and the All-Union press. He was then given a position in the Screen-Writing Department of the State Institute of Film in Moscow (VGIK) and had one of his feature film scripts produced for the State Television Network. Since leaving Russia he has directed documentaries in Israel and has continued to publish fiction and poetry. One of his main interests is in studying and presenting Russian screen writing as part of the literary tradition. He is also a professional vocalist performng Russian and international repertoire in the Canada and US.

Is Humor Translatable?: Three Capital K's of 19th-Century Russian Poetry: Ivan Krylov, Aleksei Kol'tsov, and Kozma Prutkov

by Gerald Mikkelson, University of Kansas

  • Monday, March 5
  • 5:00 p.m.
  • Room 1025, 688 Sherbrooke Street West

Professor Mikkelson received his BS, MA, and PhD degrees in Slavic Languages, and a certificate in Russian Studies, from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He has taught at the University of Kansas since 1967, where he is Professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. His scholarly and teaching specialties are Russian literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially the life and works of Russia's greatest poet, Alexander Pushkin, and the theory and practice of literary translation.

He and his wife Margaret Winchell are the English language translators of the works of Russia's greatest living prose writer, Valentin Rasputin. In 1991 they received the Wheatland Foundation Award and the Columbia University Translation Center awards for their translation of Rasputin's stories and essays called Siberia on Fire.

In 1991 Professor Mikkelson received the Burlington Northern Foundation Award for teaching, and in 1999 a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences award for supervising doctoral dissertations. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Russia in 2000-1 and held visiting appointments in the School of Philology of St. Petersburg State University in Russia in 1993, 1997, 2001-2, and 2005, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate (doctoris honoris causa) in June 2001. He has also lectured and conducted seminars at several other Russian universities, in Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Cheliabinsk, Perm', Tomsk, Gorno-Altaisk, Vologda, Kaliningrad, and Simferopol'.

The Department of Russian and Slavic Studies was pleased to invite students and members of the general public to a special screening of POOR LIZA by Director Slava Tsukerman.
The screening was followed by a discussion with New York playwright-screenwriter PROFESSOR SOPHIA ROMMA (please see this article by Jordan Fouts for more information: Sophia Romma and Poor Liza )

Poster of screen and discussion of Poor Liza

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 5:30 P.M.
Arts Building, West WING, Room W-125
853 Sherbrooke Street West

Poor Liza, directed by Slava Tsukerman (Liquid Sky, Stalin’s Wife) and winner of the Grand Prix Garnet Bracelet for best screenplay at the St. Petersburg Gatchina Film Festival (2001), is an English-language adaptation of Nikolai Karamzin’s classical Russian 18th-century story, which presents the archetypal plot of the seduction and abandonment of woman. The narrator (Ben Gazzara), periodically breaking the fourth wall, draws in the spectator as he laments the fate of the young peasant Liza (Barbora Bobulova) and the end of the Age of Enlightenment.

Sophia Romma, playwright/screenwriter/poet, born in Russia, lives in New York where she is a professor at Touro College and conducts writing workshops at New York Film Academy and Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center. Her plays In the Eyes of Hope, Coyote, Take Me There!, Defenses of Prague and Shoot Them in the Cornfields! have been produced in New York. She holds a PhD in Russian Literature from Moscow’s Gorky Literary Institute and an MFA from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.


A third dimension in the Russian system of coordination

Department of Russian & Slavic Studies presents
Dr. Irina Mikaelian
Friday, March 24th, 2:30 p.m. 688 Sherbrooke St. West, room 1041. All welcome.

The conceptual domain covered by three basic coordinative conjunctions in Russian (i, a, and no) is devided between two items in Western European languages: the additive conjunction ‘and’ and the adversitative conjunction ‘but’. Dr. Mikaelian will refine the semantic description of the Russian conjunction a and propose an explanation of both its crucial position within the Russian system of coordination and the absence of its direct equivalents in Western European languages.

New Year’s Eve on Palace Square
St. Petersburg – Russia


The department’s annual New Year’s trip to Russia took place this year December 26 to January 4. Events included tours to historical sites, trips to the city's spectacular museums and galleries as well as thrilling nights at the opera and concert hall (Marinsky theatre).

St. Petersburg, founded in 1703, is one of the most elegant cities in Europe, consisting of exceptionally harmonious architecture in the Italianate and French styles of the 18th and 19th centuries. It is a city of canels, gracious palaces and boulevards. It boasts the Kirov ballet as well as one of the world's most impressive museums and art galleries - the Hermitage. Since 2002, the Russian government has made considerable efforts at restoring the city's splendour.

Details of the trip included:

  • Air travel on Air France via Paris
  • 6 nights in Hotel Dostoevsky in SPb (steps from Nevsky Prospect
  • City tours include Peter and Paul Fortress, Church on the Spilt Blood, Yusufov Palace, the great Hermitage museum, Catherine's Summer Palace at Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo) and Pavlovsk, Peter the Great's Summer Palace at Peterhof (Petrodvorets) on the Gulf of Finland
  • 2 nights were spent in Paris on return, with some participants accepting the option of extending the stay in France.

The cost varied between $2600 and 2950, depending on whether travellers opted for single or double accommodation. It included: all air transportation, pick up by van at airports, hotels, all breakfasts, city and palace tours, Hermitage, airport taxes, as well Russian visa for Canada and US passport holders

The Art of Slavery: How Masters and Serfs Created Culture in Imperial Russia

Renowned historian Professor Richard Stites from Georgetown University, one of the foremost experts on Russian history, will deliver this year's McDonald-Currie lecture. It will take place at 5:00 on Thursday, November 24th in Leacock Building room 232.


"The Marriage Proposal" - Anton Chekhov

The Russian AKTA Theatre Studio presented, in Russian, the short play "The Marriage Proposal" by Anton Chekhov on Wednesday, March 16, 2005, 9:30 a.m., Redpath Museum Auditorium.

Russo-Scandinavian Language Contacts through the Centuries

The Department welcomed Professor John Dingley of York University on Friday, March 4th at 3:00 p.m. Professor Dingley spoke to a large group on the subject of linguistic exchanges between the northern Scandinavian and Russian-speaking populations. The talk was held in room 1041 at 688 Sherbrooke St. West and was followed by an informal reception.

25th Anniversary 'New Year's in Russia'

A group lead by the department's Chair, Professor Paul Austin, left for St. Petersburg on December 26, 2004 and returned January 4, 2005. On New Year's Eve, they attended the Kirov ballet, prior to gathering at the Palace Square in St. Petersburg.

The cost was $2,169, which included travel via Air France, local bus tours, double-occupancy accommodation, airport taxes and visa fee.

The group stayed at the Hotel Dostoevsky in St. Petersburg and the Hotel Riga in Pskov. During the trip they attended the opera, took excursions to the Hermitage, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress, and the Yusupov Palace in St. Petersburg. In Novgorod they visited the Kremlin & Yuriev Monastery and in Pskov the Kremlin & Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery. All of these national cultural treasures were more impressive than the first-time visitors had imagined, and all have described the experience as "unforgettable."


"Yes, I loved them, those meetings of the night…
The caustic gaiety of literary wit." — Akhmatova

In this small basement art salon gathered the geniuses of St. Petersburg's Silver Age — to sing, to rant, to cry and dance. This is where it all happened.

"Throw open the jewelry box of my skull —
The most precious mind will glitter." — Mayakovsky

Just as it was resurrected some years ago in Russia, the cabaret was once mirrored here by a group of McGill students. This Halloween it wanders in again.

Friday, October 29, at 8 pm
3462 Rue Jeanne-Mance, Apt. 7 (near Sherbrooke W.)

All are welcome to the free event, and encouraged to join the poetry recitals, songs, games and other presentations throughout the night. Activities will focus largely on Russian culture (art, music, literature, politics and history), many reminiscent of those enjoyed by the original cabaret's gems.

Costumes are encouraged, and food donations will be appreciated.

For more information: Jennifer [dot] knazan [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Jefri Knazan) or Jordan [dot] fouts [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Jordan Fouts), 514-999-6589.