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Visionary Poetry after the Fall: Khersonsky, Kruglov, Sedakova, Shvarts



Stephanie Sandler


Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 4:30pm - 6:30pm


Pigott Hall room 216



Visionary Poetry after the Fall: Khersonsky, Kruglov, Sedakova, Shvarts

Stephanie Sandler, Ernest E. Monrad Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University

‘Visionary Poetry after the Fall: Khersonsky, Kruglov, Sedakova, Shvarts’


After the end of the Soviet Union, which is to say, after the fall of prohibitions against religious discourse in public life, theology has become a contested space in expected but also surprising ways. Some poets have rejected intolerance and divisiveness to try to imagine the religious experience of the other – as Holy Fool, forgotten saint, strangely powerful monk, or Jew destined for diaspora. These poets are committed to a politics of free expression, and in their poetics of faith the limits on autonomy brought by ritual, rules, and religious traditions are experienced as their own form of liberation. They stand at the threshold between the secular and the sacred, creating visionary poems as ethical acts.


STEPHANIE SANDLER teaches in the Slavic Department at Harvard University. She has written about Pushkin and myths of Pushkin in Russian culture, and about contemporary poetry of Russia and of the United States. She has a long-standing interest in women writers and in feminist theory, and her work also draws on psychoanalysis, philosophy, visual studies, and post-modernist theories. She is a translator of Russian and her translations of poems by Elena Fanailova, Elena Shvarts, Mara Malanova, Fedor Swarovski, and Polina Barskova have appeared in Jacket, Poetry,World Literature Today, Boston Review, St. Petersburg Review, and Aufgabe. Her published books include Distant Pleasures: Alexander Pushkin and the Writing of Exile (1989); Commemorating Pushkin: Russia's Myth of a National Poet (2004); and three edited collections: Rereading Russian Poetry (1999); Self and Story in Russian History (2000; with Laura Engelstein); and Sexuality and the Body in Russian Culture (1993; with Jane Costlow and Judith Vowles). She received the AATSEEL Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship in January, 2013.