Drawing on manuscript collations and findings in the Roman Jakobson Papers at MIT, the Vladimir Nabokov Papers at the Library of Congress and the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library, this talk examines the early variant manuscripts of Nabokov’s translation of The Song of Igor’s Campaign, the anonymous Old Rus epic whose antiquity remains the subject of scholarly debate. Nabokov’s decade-long collaboration with Roman Jakobson was intended to produce a scholarly edition of the “Song.” Instead, it resulted in an acrimonious ideologized rift: Nabokov went on to publish his translation of the “Song” with his own commentary; Jakobson’s book was never finished.
Where Jakobson sought to eliminate all doubts concerning the “Song” and its 12th-century provenance, Nabokov sidestepped the authenticity debate to define the epic (whatever its origin) as a work of Great Art. Despite these fundamental differences, Nabokov’s published translation of the “Song” advances a text and a model of scholarly activity that owes much to Jakobson. If Nabokov’s earliest drafts adapt translation to philology in a performance that is at once “reverent” and “ironic,” terms that might also metatextually describe Nabokov’s relationship to his then mentor, his published edition reveals not the displacement of Jakobson’s work by his own, but a condensation of the two in which philological discourse cannot be distinguished from a performance of it.
Lisa Ryoko Wakamiya (Ph.D., Slavic languages and literatures, University of California, Los Angeles) is associate professor of Slavic in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics and Courtesy Associate Professor of English at Florida State University. She is the author of Locating Exiled Writers in Contemporary Russian Literature and co-editor with Mark Lipovetsky of Late and Post-Soviet Russian Literature: A Reader. Her current book project, Collecting Objects, Materializing Ethics, investigates the relationship between collections of material objects and narrative in the work of writer-collectors.
Are you interested in the arts as an engine for social change, in advancing equity in public education, or in D.C. politics? Join us for a conversation with John Abodeely ’01, CEO of the Houston Arts Alliance and former deputy director for the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. This conversation will explore national policy and advocacy work, the use of the arts in community improvement, and successful efforts to improve public education in high-poverty environments.
As CEO of Houston Arts Alliance, a citywide arts service organization, John directs strategy in grantmaking, civic art development, and new programs. He is committed to developing the organization’s positive impact on arts production throughout the city, in collaboration with board, staff, grantees, investors and other stakeholders. In ten months, Abodeely has reorganized the Alliance’s financial structure, launched new programs in disaster recovery and resilience, and engaged the challenge of educational equity throughout Houston.
As deputy director and then acting executive director of the Presidents’ Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, an advisory body to the White House on cultural issues, John was instrumental in the expansion of Turnaround Arts, a program that leverages the unique power of arts education to improve non-arts outcomes in a cohort of the nation's most struggling schools. During John’s tenure, the program successfully scaled from eight schools to sixty-eight. Also at the Committee, Abodeely served as trip director for the first-ever U.S. cultural delegation to Cuba, which featured artists Dave Matthews, Usher, Alfre Woodard, and John Guare in cultural exchange with Cuban artists, as well as bi-lateral meetings with U.S. and Cuban dignitaries.
Prior to the President's Committee, Abodeely served as manager of National Partnerships for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and as manager of Education at Americans for the Arts. John has taught education policy at the graduate level, and served on boards and various review panels. He is a graduate of Amherst College with a bachelor's degree magna cum laude in Biology and Fine Arts, and holds an MBA from Johns Hopkins University.
This year, Five College Buddhist Studies is welcoming a series of visitors focused on Buddhism and contemporary literature, called “Putting Pen to Palm Leaf: Buddhism and Contemporary Literature.” This series will bring four eminent writers, whose work explores or is inflected by Buddhist themes, to the Five Colleges to share their ideas and practice with our students, faculty and the wider community.
Ruth Ozeki is an award-winning author, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest whose novels have garnered international critical acclaim for their ability to integrate issues of science, technology, environmental politics, philosophy and global pop culture into unique hybrid narrative forms. Her best-selling novel A Tale for the Time Being (2013) won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; it has been translated and published in more than 35 countries. Her earlier novels, My Year of Meats (1998) and All Over Creation (2003), were both New York Times Notable Books. Her latest book, The Face: A Time Code, is a memoir, published in 2016 by Restless Books.
After graduating from Smith in 1980 with degrees in English literature and Asian studies, Ozeki received a Japanese Ministry of Education fellowship to do graduate work in classical Japanese literature. While in Japan, she also studied Noh drama and mask carving, founded a language school and taught on the faculty of Kyoto Sangyo University. She returned to New York, where she started a film career, working first as an art director for low-budget horror movies, and later as a documentary director for Japanese television. Her award-winning independent films, Halving the Bones (1995) and Body of Correspondence (1994), have shown at Sundance and on public television.
A longtime meditator, Ozeki was ordained in 2010 as a novice priest in the Soto Zen lineage. In 2006, Ozeki returned to Smith to receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters, and she is very happy to be back again, this time to teach creative writing and to work on a new novel. We are thrilled to welcome her to Amherst College, where she will give a public reading of her work.
A poet and critic, Cameron Awkward-Rich is the author of the forthcoming Dispatch and the collection Sympathetic Little Monster, which was a finalist for a 2017 Lambda Literary Award, and which poet Danez Smith described as “at once analytical, magical, confession, dismissive, but ultimately, and simply, a collection breaking new ground in Trans, Queer, Black, and American Letters.” He is also a poetry editor for Muzzle magazine and has received numerous fellowships. He currently teaches women, gender and sexuality studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
This reading will be followed by refreshments.