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Realism as Technique: Mimesis and Allegory in Nikolai Gogol's “Old-World Landowners”

Events

Speaker:

Kirill Ospovat

Date:

Friday, January 23, 2015 - 12:00pm

Location:

Building 260, Room 252

Language:

Type:

Lecture

Realism as Technique: Mimesis and Allegory in Nikolai Gogol's “Old-World Landowners”

The talk will deal with Nikolai Gogol’s story “Old-World Landowners,” published in 1835 in his by now classic prose collection Mirgorod. Gogol’s early works marked the beginning of an important shift in Russian literary practice of the period, known as the transition from poetry to prose. Through a close reading of a single text, I will explore the aesthetic implications of this shift which gradually made “realist,: or “mimetic,” representation of the material world as a framework for human actions and emotions into a central literary procedure. Drawing on various critical perspectives, from Romantic criticism to twentieth-century theory (Erich Auerbach, Walter Benjamin, Paul de Man), I will investigate the intricate web of tropes and effects which underlay and generated the only seemingly transparent mimetic illusionism.