Radical poet Roman Osminkin to perform DECEMBER 10 at 7:30pm, Stirn Auditorium


We invite you to an evening performance by ROMAN OSMINKIN on Thursday, December 10 in Stirn Auditorium, from 7:30 to 9:00pm, on the Amherst College campus.  Osminkin is a young poet from St. Petersburg who belongs to a new left-wing arts movement known as "actionism."  Like his predecessor Dmitry Prigov, Osminkin's poetry mixes genres and media and is a kind of performance art.

Roman Sergeevich Osminkin will “lecture” — interrupted by readings from his poems, demonstrations of his videos, and citations of the work of his friends—about poetry’s action and its evolutionary development beyond the page.  What remains of poetry when it leaves the page behind for the synthetic forms of video-poetry, sound-poetry, poetic performance? Is it forced to sacrifice attention to the word and its potential for renewing language? What does it gain in exchange? Roman Sergeevich has the answers!

This event is sponsored by the Lurcy Fund and the Russian Department of Amherst College.

SERGEY GANDLEVSKY - Leading Russian Poet Reads from New Memoir, November 9th at 5:00 pm

Sergey Gandlevsky will be reading at the Amherst Center for Russian Culture next Monday at 5:00.  The occasion is the appearance in English of his award-winning memoir, Trepanation of my Skull.  He will read from that book, as well as from his poetry, all excellently translated into English by Suzanne Fusso.

Gandlevsky is widely recognized as a leading Russian poet.   An integral member of the ’70s generation, Gandlevsky was one of the underground Russian poets who began by writing only for themselves and their circles of friends during the Brezhnev era.  This generation forged new directions in Russian poetry, unfettered by the pressures that burdened Russian writers during the Soviet period. He has published a dozen books of poetry, memoirs, and fiction. He has won both the Little Booker Prize and the Anti-Booker Prize in 1996 for his poetry and prose, an irony he relishes.  He has been translated into several languages, and a volume of his poetry in English translation appeared as A Kindred Orphanhood (Zephyr Press 2003).

His autobiographical novella Trepanation of the Skull is a portrait of the artist as young late-Soviet man. At the center of the narrative are Gandlevsky’s discovery of a brain tumor, his surgery and his recovery in the early 1990s. The story radiates out, relaying the poet’s personal history through 1994, including his unique perspective on the 1991 coup by Communist hardliners resisted by Boris Yeltsin. Gandlevsky tells wonderfully strange but true episodes from the bohemian life he and his literary companions led. He also frankly describes his epic alcoholism and his ambivalent adjustment to marriage and fatherhood. 

This event is sponsored by the Lurcy Fund and by the Amherst Center for Russian Culture.




Professor and Chair of Slavic Languages and Literatures University of California, Berkeley

speaks about her recent book on Tolstoy's non-fiction:
diaries, letters, memoirs, treatises, and more.

Monday, May 4, 2015 • 4:30 PM

Amherst Center for Russian Culture • Reading Room
202 Webster Hall • Amherst College

A leading cultural historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russia, Irina Paperno has, throughout her scholarly career, focused on the multifaceted relationship between life as it is lived and as it is represented and given meaning to by the written word. Her books have transformed the field’s understanding of the place of the literary text and the individual life on the broader stage of Russian culture and provoked a reassessment of longstanding assumptions about the Russian literary canon and its relationship to Russian and Soviet history.  

Paperno's latest monograph, just out from Cornell University Press, develops her interests in the history of private life and the intellectual sources of the concepts of self. It offers an account of Leo Tolstoy's lifelong attempt to find adequate ways to represent the self, to probe its limits and, ultimately, to arrive at an identity not based on the bodily self and its accumulated life experience.  As it guides the readers through Tolstoy’s voluminous, highly-personal nonfiction writings, the book reflects on the problems of self and narrative as well as provides an intellectual and psychological biography of the writer.  Irina Paperno will discuss her book in the broader context of interpreting the large, diverse corpus of non-fiction writings by Russian writers.

This event is sponsored by the Amherst Center for Russian Culture, the Department of Russian at Amherst College and the Eastman Lecture Fund.

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Russian Table for Spring 2015

First Russian Table for Spring 2015


We hope you'll join us for Russian Table each Thursday of the semester, from 12:00 noon to 1:30, beginning on February 5th. 
Meet our professors and enjoy Russian conversation and cameraderie
at Valentine Hall, on the Mezzanine Level.

A talk by Dylan Schneider '06 - "Bringing Slavic Absurdism to the Operatic Stage

A talk by Dylan Schneider '06 - "Bringing Slavic Absurdism to the Operatic Stage
On February 26th, 2015 in the Amherst Center for Russian Culture (202 Webster), alumnus Dylan Schneider will present a talk on his opera Strip-Tease.  Dylan received his Ph.D in music composition from the University of Chicago in 2013, having studied with composers Shulamith Ran and Marta Ptaszynska.  Strip-Tease is the 27-minute opera Dr. Schneider created for his dissertation, and he is now working on a companion piece based on the short story by Andrei Sinyavsky who for many years as a Russian dissident published his prose under the pseudonym Abram Terz.   Dr. Schneider will discuss both the Polish and Russian texts and the operas for which they serve as librettos against the larger background of Slavic absurdism during the 1960s through 1980s which they reflect; a screening of Strip-Tease and a reception will follow.

RUSSIA BY DESIGN: Adventures of Ideas in Global Culture. A Conversation with ILYA OSKOLKOV-TSENTSIPER

RUSSIA  BY DESIGN: Adventures of Ideas in Global Culture.  A Conversation with ILYA OSKOLKOV-TSENTSIPER

Thursday, March 5, 2015 • 4:30 PM

Amherst Center for Russian Culture • Reading Room

202 Webster Hall • Amherst College

A visionary, irreverent cultural entrepreneur, Ilya Oskolkov-Tsentsiper was instrumental in shaping a new image of post-Soviet Russia at the turn of the 21st century through a series of ground-breaking media initiatives, and has been the force behind the reconstruction and repurposing of some of the most important institutions of public life in Moscow.  

How do "Western" — European and American — ideas of the public sphere, of "high" and "popular" culture, of space and community, translate, thrive and become utterly transformed on the Russian soil?

Tsentsiper will present his recent ambitious re-design projects, from Moscow's Gorky Park to Stalin-era People's Economy Exposition (the VDNKh) and discuss the relationship of media, design and politics in the context of the current regime.

This event is sponsored by the Amherst Center for Russian Culture, the Georges Lurcy Speaker Series at Amherst, the Amherst College Department of Russian and Programs in Architectural Studies, European Studies and Film and Media Studies.

Copeland Colloquium: Translator Talks

Please join us for an October "mini-series" of lectures by exciting younger translators of Russian literature.  This will be a great opportunity to learn from and to meet professional translators in our field.  The mini-series is sponsored by the Amherst College Copeland Colloquium, whose theme this year is "Words in Transit: the Cultures of Translation."  Please contact Catherine Ciepiela (caciepiela@amherst.edu) for further information.

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KEITH GESSEN: "Should I translate this Book?"
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 4:30; Fayerweather Hall 115.

Keith Gessen is the author of the novel All The Sad Young Literary Men, a founding editor of n+1, and the editor and co-translator of Kirill Medvedev’s It’s No Good and Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales. He also translated Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, winner of the National Book Critics Circle award.
 He is also a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine.

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JEFF PARKER: "Translation: Writing in a Voice Not Your Own"
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 4:30; Fayerweather Hall 115
Jeff Parker's most recent book is Where Bears Roam the Streets: A Russian Journal. He co-edited the anthologies Rasskazy: New Fiction From a New Russia and Amerika: Russian Writers View the United States. He co-translated the novel Sankya by Zakhar Prilepin, and he teaches in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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MATVEI YANKELEVICH: "The Art of Mistranslation: Contemporary Poets Taking LIberties with Baudelaire, Dickinson, Shakespeare and Trakl"
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 4:30; Fayerweather Hall 115.

Matvei Yankelevich is the author of the poetry collection Alpha Donut (United Artists Books) and the novella-in-fragments Boris by the Sea (Octopus Books), and several chapbooks. He is the translator of Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Overlook/Ardis), and has contributed translations to several books and anthologies, including Alexander Vvedensky's An Invitation for Me to Think (NYRB Poets), Night Wraps the Sky: Writings By and About Mayakovsky (FSG), and Contemporary Russian Poetry (Dalkey Archive). He is one of the founding editors of Ugly Duckling Presse, where he curates the Eastern European Poets Series. He has taught at the Columbia University School of the Arts, the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (Naropa), Hunter College, and Colorado College, and is a member of Writing Faculty of the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. In Fall 2014, he is teaching "The Art of the Book" at Columbia University's School of the Arts and is a visiting professor at Wesleyan University.

Professor Catherine Ciepiela, Chair of the Russian Department, is a member of the Steering Committee for the “Words in Transit” project of this year’s Copeland Colloquium

Fall 2014 Russian Film Series

Our Russian Film Series will begin on Tuesday, September 23, 2014, at 7:00 pm in Stirn Hall.  Our first film will be the documentary "Happy People:  A Year in the Taiga," by iconic filmmaker Werner Herzog.  Set deep in the Siberian wilderness, the film explores the daily life of the remote village of Bakhta, following their daily routines, unchanged over centuries, through all four seasons.  This is an incredible story of a society untouched by modernity.  We hope to see you there!

Past Events

Spring 2013

Russian Film Event:  In Memoriam, Alexei German - Friday, April 26th at 7:00 pm
In late February, Russians bid farewell to a man many considered to be the country’s greatest living filmmaker. Largely under-appreciated in the West, Alexei German’s films delighted in their complexity, tones, textured aesthetics, and the absence of simple heroes or villains.  My Friend Ivan Lapshin (1984) is a gritty, beautiful and a strange mixture of realism and dreamish images.  The film will be screened and then discussed by professors from the Five Colleges, led by Polina Barskova of Hampshire College.

Russian Spring Concert - Friday, April 5th
Join us in the Friedmann Room (in the Keefe Campus Center) for music, readings and other performances by Amherst College students of Russian.  Culture, conversation, fun and refreshments!

Russian-English poetry reading by Maria Stepanova - Monday, April 1 at 7:00 pm
Moscow poet Maria Stepanova, a winner of Russia’s top literary prize, will give a reading on Monday, April 1 at 7pm in the Amherst Center for Russian Culture.  She will read her original poetry along with new English translations.  Stepanova is one of the most visible figures in post-Soviet culture, a founder and editor of today’s most influential online journal.  She is one of the most important poets working today, addressing contemporary themes through skillfully distorted forms and language.  The reading will be followed by a question-and-answer session in English.

This event is sponsored by the Amherst Center for Russian Culture, the Russian Department and the Lurcy Lecture Fund.


Fall 2012

Wednesday, October 24 at 4:30 p.m. (Center for Russian Culture, Webster Hall).  A Lecture by Igor Vishnevetsky:  The Birth of Fiction from the Spirit of Music:  My Novel, "Leningrad" -- from literary text to screen version.  Professor Vishnevetsky teaches Russian Literature at the American Studio of the Moscow Art Theater and English at the Russian State University for the Humanities.

Sunday, October 21 at 7:30 p.m. (Center for Russian Culture, Webster Hall)Remembering the Rite of Spring:  Stravinsky's views on all of his most famous works changed over the years, but The Rite of Spring was a particular case, partly because he had difficulty getting the notation of the score as he wanted it, partly because he lost interest in the ethnic aspects of the subject, partly because of issues to do with the way the work was, or should be, performed. The talk traces these changes down the years, and draws some conclusions about Stravinsky's creative methods and his attitudes to his own past work.

Stephen Walsh is a critic and musicologist who is currently Reader in Music at Cardiff University, Wales.


Wednesday, March 3, 4:00 p.m., Robert Frost Library. World-renowned Russian literature translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volkhonsky will speak at Amherst. The event, which is part of the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series, is free and open to the public. In addition to the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series fund, Pevear and Volokhnosky's visit is being co-sponsored by Amherst's Departments of Russian and English, The Creative Writing Center and the Program in European Studies.

Wednesday, February 10, 4:30 p.m., Amherst Center for Russian Culture. Elena Fanailova will read from her poetry in the Amherst Center for Russian Culture. A leading voice of her generation, Fanailova is the author of four books of poems and a host of a program for Radio Liberty that covers political and literary events in Russia. She will read her poems in Russian and in English translation.


Friday, April 17, 4:30 p.m., Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather Hall, Amherst College
Stanley Rabinowitz, Henry Steele Commager Professor and Professor of Russian, is the premier translator of Russian ballet critic Akim Volynsky and author of the recently published book "Ballet’s Magic Kingdom: Selected Writings on Dance in Russia, 1911-1925." Rabinowitz will speak on "My Journey Through Ballet's Magic Kingdom."

Friday, April 10, 1:00 p.m., Mead Art Museum, Amherst College
Scott Niichel '06, Russian art specialist at Sotheby's, New York, will talk about working for a major auction house and about the rising market for Russian art. Organized in conjunction with the museum docents' year-long investigation into the theories and practices of art collecting, this event is open to all.

Thursday March 26, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Porter Russian House, Amherst College
Russian House, in collaboration with the Asian Culture House, has invited Professor Steven Sunwoo Lee '01 to provide commentary after a screening of Koryo Saram: The Unreliable People, a feature-length documentary about the forcibly displaced minority community of Koreans in Kazakhstan.  The recipient of a Fulbright research grant in 2001-02 to study the culture of the Korean diaspora in Russia, Lee served as a consultant in the making of the film, providing historical background, language support, and script and editing advice.  This event begins at 8 pm in Porter House and is open to the public.

Wednesday March 25, 2009, 7:30 p.m., Amherst Center for Russian Culture
Steven Sunwoo Lee '01, Assistant Professor of English, University of California (Berkeley) will present a lecture on a little-known Soviet play that became the first American production to feature Asian actors in Asian roles.  Titled “A Soviet Script for Asian America: Roar, China!,” the talk discusses the New York staging in 1930 of this piece of epic political theater as documenting the appeal of the spectacle of Asian revolt against Western imperialism for minority audiences and especially for Asian Americans.  Sponsored by the English Department in conjunction with English 63, this event begins at 7:30 in the Amherst Center for Russian Culture on the second floor of Webster Hall.  All are welcome to attend.

Thursday March 5, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Amherst Center for Russian Culture
Honoring poet Ilya Kaminsky with a Metcalf Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters wrote,  “With his magical style in English, poems in Dancing In Odessa seem like a literary counterpart to Chagall in which laws of gravity have been suspended and colors reassigned, but only to make everyday reality that much more indelible.” Anthony Hecht called him “A superb and vigorous imagination, a poetic talent of rare and beautiful proportions.” Kaminsky, who was born in Odessa and lives in California, writes award-winning poetry in both Russian and English. He teaches creative writing and translation at San Diego State University.

Sunday, February 8, 2009, 3:00 p.m., Amherst Center for Russian Culture
Opera critic and author David Shengold '81 will present an illustrated lecture on "Sampling Pushkin: Tchaikovsky's 'Lyric Scenes' in Eugene Onegin." A reception will follow. Event sponsored by the Vadim Filatov '86 Memorial Lecture Fund.