Nabokov's Cinematic Exile, with Luke Parker

Wed April 20th 2022, 5:00 - 6:30pm
Pigott Hall, Rm 216

Speaker(s): Luke P. Parker (Colby College)

The Slavic Colloquium is back in person! Join us for a talk from a returning alumnus. This talk will be in-person only and restricted to the Stanford community.
About the talk:

Vladimir Nabokov’s Russian work presents a richly compelling thinking through and working out of modernist-era literature’s relation to the unabashedly mass cultural phenomenon of the cinema. In this talk I place Vladimir Nabokov’s early literary career in response to silent and early sound cinema – Nabokov “noir” – back into the chiaroscuro darkness and artificial brightness of Berlin during the Weimar era, with its movie palaces, cultural Americanism, and surface culture. I focus on Nabokov’s time in 1920s and 1930s Berlin, including his activities as a moviegoer, his friendship with the émigré film critic Georgy Gessen, and his work as a chronicler of the city’s “cinematic culture” in novels like Camera Obscura. I argue that Nabokov’s engagement with the cinema – and more broadly with the socio-cultural and economic dynamics of mass culture – is an art of exile, understood both as literary poetics and as practical strategy.

Luke Parker is an Assistant Professor of Russian at Colby College. He works on literature, film and visual culture in exile, and his first book, Nabokov Noir: Cinematic Culture and the Art of Exile, will be published this November by Cornell University Press. He is also the co-editor of Nabokov and Berlin and the translator of Ilya Ehrenburg’s The Dream Factory.