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East Europe: Critical Encounters Seminar

East Europe: Critical Encounters explores a range of humanistic topics concerning the region of Russia and Eastern Europe, including distinct East European frameworks of culture; the complexities of empire (both past and present); questions of religion, law, and political authority; socialism and post-socialism; minority rights and mass violence; and Russia’s place in defining scholarly conversations and methods of inquiry. 

While closely analyzing humanistic questions of the region, our seminar uses the lens of Eastern Europe to probe global and theoretical frameworks for thinking about art, architecture, culture, literature, and history. Consequently, each meeting aims to rethink and reframe a critical question of the region from interdisciplinary perspectives, while also providing participants an opportunity to situate these questions in broader humanistic inquiry. 

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Spotlight Seminars

Virtual Roundtable: Cultural Memory in Post-Habsburg Galicia: Legacies of a Multiethnic Empire   

Date: Friday, September 24th from 12:00-1:30 pm 

Speakers: Sofia Dyak (Center for Urban History of East Central Europe) Joshua Shanes (College of Charleston) Karen Underhill (University of Illinois, Chicago) Andriy Zayarnyuk (University of Winnipeg)  Register  

Virtual Presentation: The Great Chernobyl Acceleration: Environment and Health in the Nuclear Age  

Date: Friday, October 22nd at 3:00 pm 

Speaker: Kate Brown, MIT  Space: VIRTUAL 
“The Great Chernobyl Acceleration: Environment and Health in the Nuclear Age.”
What do we know about the Chernobyl disaster? Working through Soviet archives, historian Kate Brown argues that to call Chernobyl an “accident” is to sweep aside the decades of radiation exposure that rained down on the globe during the period of nuclear testing. Instead of a one-off accident, Brown argues that Chernobyl was a point of acceleration on a timeline of radioactive contamination that continues to this day.
We look forward to a stimulating discussion and hope to see you there. Register

In-Person Presentation: “The Abode of Islam or the Abode of War: Migrations of Bosnian Muslims in the 19th and 20th Century and Fatwas of the Ulama” 

Date: Tuesday, November 9th from 4:00-5:30pm  Space: 123 Buttrick Hall 

Speaker:  Ehlimana Memisevic (Fulbright Visiting Scholar, Vanderbilt University)  

Isaac Bashevis Singer and the Time of Yiddish Transness 

Date: Friday, February 11th from 2:00-3:30pm  Location: In-Person, location TBA

Speaker: Rafael Balling (Stanford University)  

Abstract: Between the 1960s and 1980s, Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer published a series of short works that focused on LGBTIQ characters, among them the famous story “Yentl der Yeshive Bokher” [“Yentl the Yeshiva Boy”] (1962/3). This talk investigates how Singer’s self understanding as a Yiddish writer who migrated from his native Poland to the US sets the stakes for narrating gender variance in “Yentl.” 

The Politics of “No”: Queer Transformations in Postsocialist Armenia 

Date: Friday, March 25th from 2:00-3:30pm  Location: In-Person, location TBA 

Speaker: Tamar Shirinian (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) 

Abstract: “The Politics of No” is a selection from Dr. Shrinian’s manuscript in progress, entitled Survival of a Perverse Nation: Queer Transformations in Postsocialist Armenia. In this session, we will discuss a pre-circulated draft of this chapter, which investigates how activists have confronted the hoplesslessness of the postsocialist era through political performances that negated the present oligarchic capitalist regime’s hold on power and made way for new ways of imagining collective life and action. 

Title: TBA 

Speaker: Johnathon Speed (Vanderbilt University) 

Date: Friday, April 8th from 2:00-3:30PM  Location: In-Person, location TBA 

Abstract: We will discuss a pre-circulated excerpt from Johnathon’s dissertation, which explores the peculiar migrations of the so-called “Swabian Children” – child migrants from the Eastern Alps who negotiated summerlong labor terms at “child markets” in Württemberg during the long nineteenth century.