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Past Events 2008 - 2009

Congratulations to the winners of the Slavic Department's undergraduate awards this year:

Kelly Fedak, winner of the Luba Zinkowsky Friedman Award for Excellence in Russian Studies

Alina Tulloch, winner of the Slavic Departmental Research Essay Prize for best undergraduate paper presented at the Slavic Bazaar

Benjamin Kaufman, who has been awarded a CURF grant for summer research in Latvia

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Christoph Suter
Allison Evans
Mary Catherine French
Benjamin Kaufman
Peter Winsky

Have been awarded grants from the Luba Zinkowsky Friedman Fund to support their summer study of Russian Language

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2009 ACTR National Post-Secondary Russian Essay Contest winners:

Taeko Harada, Sarabeth Zielonka, Peter Winsky, Alexander Salasyuk, Ekaterina Petrova, Natalia Kogay

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2009 Annual Penn Russian Essay Contest winners:

Perry Clarkson, Chris Sutor, Cameron Hood, Caitlin Leahy, Bridget Goodman, Angela Mu, Anna Munik, Alex Melamed, Bronwyn Koehl

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Political Obstetrics and Social Epidemiology: Anti-Fascism in Russia Since 1987

Lecture by Mischa Gabowitsch

April 29, 5 p.m.

ARCH Building, Crest Room (3601 Locust Walk)

Mischa Gabowitsch is a Cotsen post-doctoral fellow at the Society of Fellows in Liberal Arts at Princeton University and a lecturer in Princeton’s Sociology Department. He holds a BA from Oxford University and received his PhD with distinction from the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris in 2007. He is currently turning his dissertation, entitled “The Specter of Fascism: Russian Nationalism and its Opponents, 1987-2007,” into a book in English. He has been a visiting student at the Ecole normale supérieure in Paris and has received fellowships from the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Hannah Arendt Institute in Dresden. He was the first Einstein Fellow invited to spend five months at Albert Einstein’s summer house in Caputh/Germany. In 2002-2006, he edited a Moscow-based interdisicplinary journal entitled Neprikosnovenny zapas; at present he is launching a new peer-reviewed journal in St Petersburg called Laboratorium: Russian Review of Social Research. In addition to publishing numerous articles and several translated books, he has edited a book (in Russian) on the memory of the second world war in Russia, Germany, and Europe, published by NLO in 2005.

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April 26, 2009

Slavic Bazaar, Undergraduate Research Conference

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Stanislavsky & Meyerhold: Their Legacy and Meaning in Russia and the US Today

Lecture by Anna Shulgat

April 21 at 5 p.m.

Steinberg Hall - Dietrich Hall, Room 209

Anna Shulgat is a theatre critic, playwright and translator from St.Petersburg, Russia. A graduate of the St. Petersburg Theatre Arts Academy, she is currently a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at SUNY, Stony Brook, where she is candidate for an MFA in Dramaturgy. She is also working at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center (CUNY Graduate Center), where she contributes to the journal Slavic and East European Performance. At the moment she is studying the relations between Russian and American theatre.

She has published translations of ten books and about 100 of her own original articles and interviews in Russian and American publications. She has lectured on the history of Russian theatre in Russia, Great Britain, and the United States. Among her translations into Russian are Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and 16th-century English poetry. Her English translation of Sergei Bertensson's memoirs In Hollywood with Nemirovich-Danchenko, 1926-1927 has been published by Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD).

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April 18, 2009

Slavic Symposium

Comrades Please Shoot Me: Confessional Trials in Eastern Bloc after the World War II

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The Russian Heritage Program of the Department of Slavic Languages and
Literatures cordially invites you to our cheerful Russian Party (kapustnik)
“Nasha Kommunal’naia Kvartira”

WHAT? Brief stage adaptations of Zoshchenko’s and Averchenko’s hilarious short
stories about love, scandals, and Soviet modus vivendi in the early 1920s.

WHAT ELSE? Refreshments and delicious cabbage pie.

WHEN? April 10 from 5 till 6 pm.

WHERE? Max Kade Center: 3401 Walnut (Starbucks building), room 329A.


Come yourself, bring your parents and Russian-speaking friends!

Photos from the event

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Penn History Kruzhok event:

April 7 (Tuesday) - Prof. Claudia Verhoeven (George Mason University)

“Modernity by the Stars: Nikolai Morozov's Scientific Revolution”

5pm, College Hall 209

* based on pre-circulated papers, which will be sent to this listserve approximately two weeks in advance of each meeting.

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Prof. Michal Pawel Markowski of Jagiellonian University/ Brown University

The Possible Worlds of Bruno Schulz

Monday, April 6th, 5:30pm
Slought Gallery,
4017 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19104-3513

Sponsors: Theorizing, History Department, Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures,
Jewish Studies Program, and Kutchin Seminar Series

Since one Polish critic, Wladyslaw Panas, offered a reading of Bruno Schulz’s texts as mirroring the basic principles of the Lurianic Kabbalah, there has been a strong argument in the Schulz scholarship to what extent his literary work may be interpreted as representative for the Jewish tradition. Although it is evident that Bruno Schulz belonged to the same cultural formation of assimilated Jews as Franz Kafka, whose The Trial he translated or at least helped to translate, he very carefully disguised all points of direct reference to the well established repertoire of Jewish symbols or images. The lecture tries to pick up the issue of Schulz’s Judaism by inscribing his work in the general framework of the Kabbalistic interpretative system. Looking at a few fascinating paragraphs from The Spring, one of the longest stories written by Bruno Schulz, concerning a hermeneutical journey towards the origins of meaning, a reader is confronted with much more than just a cultural topos present in the works of Carl Gustav Jung or Thomas Mann. Schulz, describing a metaphorical process of descending into the underworld, delineates a sophisticated ontology which spans his whole output. The main premise of this philosophy of being is the sharp distinction between the possible and the actual, which not only forms the basis for the creation of the world but also engenders other series of differences: between poetry and prose, between nothingness and being, and, last but not least, between interpretation and knowledge. Associating poetry, nothingness, and interpretation, Schulz inscribes himself, albeit not quite intentionally, in the long line of Kabbalistic tradition in which reading the sacred text was tantamount to participating in the infinite possibilities of the divine.

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Human Rights and Law in Russia Today

a lecture by Leonid V. Nikitinsky

Monday, April 6, 5pm

Max Kade Center, 3401 Walnut St., rm. 329A (entrance next to Starbucks)

Leonid V. Nikitinsky is a distinguished journalist for Novaya gazeta (New Gazette), who specializes in coverage of human rights and law. Novaya gazeta is well-known as one of the few remaining completely independent news organizations in Russia, and was the employer of the late Anna Politkovskaya, whose murder has become emblematic of the growing threat of violence directed at journalists in Russia. Mr. Nikitinsky’s career has included work at many distinguished publications, including Moskovskie novosti (The Moscow News) and Radio Liberty.

Sponsored by the International League for Human Rights and the University of Pennsylvania Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

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Slavic Open House, March 24, 2009, 5 p.m.

Williams Hall 745

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March 24, 2009, 12 - 1:30 p.m.

Russian Colloquiums [in Russian]:

"Dyr-Bul-Schil", or the Wonders of Russian Avant-Garde Poetry, discussion led by Dr. Ilya Vinitsky

Max Kade Center, 3401 Walnut Street, Suite 329A (above Starbucks)

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Russian Colloquiums [in Russian]:

"Politizatsiya Kul'tury v Sovremennoi Rossii"

Dr. Tomaš Glanc's Presentation

March 19, 12 p.m., Max Kade Center, 3401 Walnut Street, Ste. 329A (Above Starbucks)

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"Russian Women on Family Formation, Prostitution, and Sexual Harassment: Results of a Recent Survey"

Dr. Theodore Gerber's Presentation

March 18, 5 p.m., Claudia Cohen Hall, Room 402

Co-sponsored by Alice Paul Center for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality

Dr. Gerber is professor of sociology and director of the Center for Russian, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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Lead Practitioners in Political and Economic Development Lecture Series

Decentralizing Service Delivery: Benefits, Costs, Implications

A Lecture by Junaid Ahmad

February 26, 6 p.m.

Fisher - Bennet Hall, Room 401

Dissatisfied with centralized approaches to delivering local public services, a large number of countries are decentralizing responsibility for these services to lower- level, locally elected governments. The results have been mixed. The presentation provides a framework for evaluating the benefits and costs, in terms of service delivery, of different approaches to decentralization, based on relationships of accountability between different actors in the delivery chain. Moving from a model of central provision to that of decentralization to local governments introduces a new relationship of accountability— between national and local policymakers—while altering existing relationships, such as that between citizens and elected politicians. In particular, the various instruments of decentralization—fiscal, administrative, regulatory, market, and financial—can affect the incentives facing service providers, even though they relate only to local policymakers. Likewise, and perhaps more significantly, the incentives facing local and national politicians can have a profound effect on the provision of local services. Finally, the process of implementing decentralization can be as important as the design of the system in influencing service delivery outcomes.

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Penn History Kruzhok event:

February 13 (Friday) - Prof. Yanni Kotsonis (New York University)

“People, Places, and Things: The Old Regime, Economic Liberalism, and Tax Reform before 1881”

Joint session with the Economic History Workshop

2pm [NB!], Lea Library, 6th Floor of Van Pelt Library

* based on pre-circulated papers, which will be sent to this listserve approximately two weeks in advance of each meeting.

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February 10, 2009, 12 - 1:30 p.m.

Russian Colloquiums [in Russian]:

"The Name of Russia" Competition, discussion led by Dr. Kevin Platt

Max Kade Center, 3401 Walnut Street, Suite 329A (above Starbucks)

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Literature in the Booth Series presents An Evening of Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry
featuring Viktor Neborak

Procurator, Bu-Ba-Bu

February 6, 2009, 7PM, $5

A Ukrainian & English Language Event

The Ukrainian League of Philadelphia, 23rd and Brown Sts.

Co-sponsored by the Ukrainian Studies Program at Columbia University

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Lead Practitioners in Political and Economic Development Lecture Series

Local Governments as Catalysts for Economic Growth and Development:

A New Paradigm in Local Governance

A Lecture by Anwar Shah

February 5, 2009, 6:00 pm

Crest Room 72
ARCH Building at the intersection of 36th St. and Locust Walk

Decentralization reforms have spread like wild fire in both industrial and developing countries during the last two decades but have had only modest impact on government performance and accountability and improving the quality of life of citizens around the globe. What went wrong? The author argues that these reforms failed to internalize lessons from the past history of nations as well as newer conceptual perspectives on governance. The author compares and contrasts the experiences of India, China and USA among others on local governance and also reflects upon the role of local government in China's remarkable success in poverty alleviation. Drawing upon these analytical and historical perspectives, the author presents a new vision of local governance that he argues is more compatible with globalization and the information age and with citizen-centric governance. Such a vision implies a dramatic shift in the respective roles of central, state and local governments.

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Natan Sharansky at Penn Hillel
Monday, February 2, 2009
7 pm, Shotel Dubin Auditorium (2nd Floor)
Steinhardt Hall, Penn Hillel

Join Natan Sharansky, former Soviet dissident, human rights activist, Israeli politician, and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, in a dialogue about human rights, freedom, justice, democracy, peace and the Middle East. This is a unique opportunity to hear a world-renowned speaker and human rights activist talk about important world events that effect each and every one of us.
Free copies of Mr. Sharansky's new book, "Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy" will be available.

Sponsored by Jewish National Fund, Penn Hillel, Penn Israel Coalition, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Department of Jewish Studies

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Penn Ethnohistory Workshop Series

January 29, 2009, 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Dr. Serguei Alex Oushakine, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Princeton University

History Lounge, College Hall 209

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Public lecture by Voinovich V. N.[in Russian]

January 27, 2009

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The New Face of Holocaust Denial. The case of Lithuania, talk by Dr. Dovid Katz, professor of Yiddish at Vilnius University, Lithuania

November 24, 2008; 7:30 p.m.

Auditorium of Penn Hillel's Steinhardt Hall, 215 S. 39th St.

The intellectual and political establishments of the Baltic States, where the proportion of Jews murdered was the highest in Europe during the Holocaust (percentages ranging from the mid to high nineties), are dealing with their wartime genocide not by pursuing accuracy in history and reconciliation, but by constructing a new and subtle variety of Holocaust Denial. Professor Katz, a Yiddish professor who has lived in Vilnius, Lithuania for close to a decade, calls this new phenomenon Holocaust Obfuscation. Without denying a single death, Holocaust Obfuscation employs a complex of ruses ranging from blaming the victims to elevating Soviet tyranny (often misrepresented as Soviet-Jewish tyranny) to a purportedly equal genocide. While elements of Holocaust Obfuscation have been evident since the war, it has only now emerged as a state-sponsored policy, ably presented by elites, that is being pursued in the European Parliament via resolutions declaring Nazism and Communism equal; these efforts tend to thrive during periods when advantage can be taken of heightened anti-Russian sentiment in Europe. Taking his examples from Lithuania, the speaker will show how the policy plays out domestically, by trivialization and near-dismissal of the Holocaust, by prosecutors' attempts to criminalize Holocaust survivors who joined the anti-Nazi resistance, and by toleration of vicious new campaigns of local antisemitism.

Professor Katz will also talk about today's small, vibrant and embattled Jewish community in Lithuania.

Bio: Dovid Katz was born in Brooklyn, New York in a home steeped in Yiddish culture. His father was the Yiddish poet Menke Katz. He attended yeshiva and Hebrew day schools before becoming the first undergraduate major in Yiddish linguistics at Columbia University. He moved on to the University of London where he completed his doctorate on the origins of the Yiddish language. He founded Yiddish Studies at Oxford University where he led the field for eighteen years, founding and editing the Oxford Yiddish series (in Yiddish) and Winter Studies in Yiddish (in English). After a stint at Yale, he took up the new chair in Yiddish studies at Vilnius University where he cofounded the Center for Stateless Cultures and the Vilnius Yiddish Institute. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, he has been leading expeditions to seek out and record the last Yiddish speakers in Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and other East European countries. His books include Grammar of the Yiddish Language (1987), Lithuanian Jewish Culture (2004), Words on Fire: The Unfinished Story of Yiddish (revised edition 2007) and Windows to a Lost Jewish Past (2008). Professor Katz has also published three collections of Yiddish fiction and writes a column for a New York Yiddish newspaper. His website is

The event is co-sponsored by the Jewish Studies, Germanic Languages and Literatures, and Hillel

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Penn History Kruzhok event:

November 19 (Wednesday) - Prof. Alexei Miller (Central European University, Budapest)

Narodnost’ i natsiia v russkom iazyke XIX veka: podgotovitel’nye nabroski k istorii poniatii”

5pm, College Hall 209

* based on pre-circulated papers, which will be sent to this listserve approximately two weeks in advance of each meeting.

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Wednesday November 19 - Dr. Aneta Pavlenko, Associate Professor, Temple University

"Language Policies and Politics in Ukraine"

12-1 p.m., Penn Graduate School of Education, 3700 Walnut Street, Room 203

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"The Future of U.S-Russia Business Ties: Opportunities or Constraints?” Wharton-Russia
Symposium: November 17, 2008

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November 10, 2008

5:30 - 7PM, Max Kade Center, 3401 Walnut Street, Suite 329A (above Starbucks)

Mr. Alfred Kokh lecture: Russia Matters - Now, then and tomorrow
An insider’s look at the rise of Russia and the West’s failure to engage the heartland of Eurasia

As former head of the state property committee under Boris Yeltsin, Mr. Kokh will present a fascinating account of Russia’s transition from a centrally planned economy to its current market-based economy. Told from an insider's point of view, Mr. Kokh offers an insightful look into the successes and failures that shaped Russia during this period of economic reform.

Mr. Kokh will also examine the conditions that led to Russia’s privatization scheme—known as loans-for-shares—in which large state-owned industrial assets were leased through auctions for money lent to the government by commercial banks. The economic benefits of this program and its contribution to Russia’s economic growth in the past decade will be discussed.

Drawing from his personal experience, Mr. Kokh will also share his take on the controversy surrounding Russian business oligarchs in post-Soviet Russia; namely, accusations of corruption and profiteering, and suggestions that this group of individuals contributed to the widening of the wealth gap in the country.

Finally, Mr. Kokh will share his personal thoughts about the role Russia will play on the world stage, and how this will impact international relations and foreign policy endeavors, particularly after the recent events in Georgia. As part and parcel to this discussion, Mr. Kokh will also share his observations of Western-Russian relations, specifically the nature of the West’s abiding misconceptions of this complex country, and how such misunderstandings effect foreign relations.

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November 7, 2008, 6 p.m. - 7 p.m., Huntsman Hall, Room G65:

"How to Keep Oranges Fresh: Ukraine after the Orange Revolution",

an interactive lecture by Andriy Shevchenko, Deputy of Ukrainian Parliament and Famous Journalist

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November 6, 2008, 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m., Williams Hall 202

Russian poet Alexandra Petrova's visit to Upenn for reading of her works

Here you can find some of her works (in Russian):

Underground Rome - poetic cycle

Babylon - poem

Woman Pilot - poetic cycle

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November 5, 2008, 5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., Williams Hall 745

Slavic Open House

This is your chance to meet faculty and fellow students, find out about spring courses, and, of course, taste some of that fabulous Russian food! This time it will be unlike any other...

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Penn History Kruzhok Event October 21, 2008

Prof. Vladislav Zubok (Temple University)

“The Idea of the Intelligentsia after Stalin”

5:30 pm, College Hall 209

* based on pre-circulated papers, which will be sent to this listserve approximately two weeks in advance of each meeting.

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Slavic Languages and Literatures Student Reception themed My Russian Summer

October 2, 2008, 5 - 6:30 p.m.

Max Kade Center, 3401 Walnut Street, Ste. 329A (third floor, above Starbucks)

Come in for your chance to meet faculty and fellow students interested in everything Russian/Slavic. Food, refreshments, and fun times are ahead!

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Are you Ukrainian? OR, do you just have an interest in Ukraine? Are you concerned over Ukraine’s current issues? OR, do you want to know more about our language, our culture, and our people?

Ukrainian Society @ Penn invites you to our Introductory General Meeting, Monday, September 29th at 6:00 pm, Jon M. Huntsman Hall 265

Come to our General Meeting:

• learn more about the club
• discuss our plans for the year
• share your great ideas with us
• learn how to can get involved
• ENJOY Ukrainian cookies, candy, and refreshments!

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Potato Ontology: Surviving Postsocialism in Russia, Talk by Dr. Nancy Ries

Narratives and practices of everyday survival reveal much about both political and symbolic economies in Russia and other former Soviet communities. Many people talk about "living on potato," and this paper argues that they use potato to depict and theorize the valor of self-sufficiency, the retraction of the state after socialism, and their sense of radical disconnection from global commodity production and circulation.

September 25, 2008, 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

The Annenberg School, 3620 Walnut St. in Room 500 (5th Floor)

Nancy Ries is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Peace and Conflict Studies at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. She has done anthropological fieldwork in Russia since the 1980s, and is the author of Russian Talk: Culture and Conversation during Perestroika (Cornell University Press 1997) which won the Barbara Heldt Prize. A Russian translation of Russian Talk was published in Moscow in 2005. Ries is co-editor of the Cornell University Press book series, Culture and Society after Socialism. Ries has published work on Russian mafia (in Ethnography in Unstable Places), gender relations (in Feminist Nightmares: Women at Odds) and on the everyday violence of war and social conflict (in New Literary History). She is co-author of the NEH online museum, Communal Living in Russia ( In 2007-08 she was a Member in Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, working on the book project Power and Potato: Public Cynicism and the Everyday Experience of the Postsocialist State.

The event is co-sponsored by the Annenberg School and the Faculty Working Group on REEES.

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Music Fellow and pianist Matthew Bengtson, with guest baritone Brian Chu, will present a program of Russian piano sonatas and art songs.Program includes music of Scriabin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Mussorgsky, and Medtner.

Tuesday, September 16, 7:30 pm
Harnwell College House Rooftop Lounge
Admission is FREE with PennCard.

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Fall Semester Russian Placement Test dates are: 9/1 2pm-4pm, Williams 201; 9/8 1pm-3pm, Williams 737. For more information please contact Dr. Svetlana Korshunova