New Book, New Blog: Russia’s Alien Nations



As some of you know, I spent a couple of years writing the first draft of “Plots against Russia: Conspiracy and Fantasy after Socialism” on my blog (plotsagainstrussia.org). Now that the book is coming out (from Cornell University Press, this March), I’m back to work on my next projects. And one of them is…another book whose rough draft will be posted on a blog.

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Person or Persons Unknown



Everyone loves to be proven right, but novelists don’t often expect it — especially five hundred years after the period where their books are set. After all, that’s half the fun of writing and reading fiction: filling in the gaps left by the historical record. So to have a set of novels that explore the relationship between Russians and Tatars in the sixteenth century twice intersect with contemporary developments is surprising.

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Between Soviet Homeland and Yiddish Cosmos: Yevgeniy Fiks at the Stanton Street Shul



Yevgeniy Fiks’ solo exhibition “Himl un erd: Yiddish Cosmos” at Stanton Street Shul in New York (on view Sundays from 1–6pm, Mondays & Wednesdays from 4–7 pm, November 18–December 16) explores the connections between the twentieth-century experience of Eastern European Jews and the Soviet space program. What unites these two seemingly unrelated stories?

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Conflict Between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Kremlin Authority, Part II

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An independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church free from Moscow’s control has long been a goal for many in Ukraine, especially among Ukrainian nationalist organizations.  Demands for such a split from the Russian Orthodox Church have only intensified since Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea and its ongoing proxy war in the Donbas.  Today, many Ukrainian politicians, journalists and researchers accuse the Russian Orthodox Church of using its churches in Ukraine to support the Kremlin’s political-information warfare (often referred to as “hybrid war”) against Kyiv. There is also evidence that Russian clergy provided assistance to rebel forces in Ukraine’s East.

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Conflict Between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Kremlin Authority, Part I

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On October 11, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I – considered the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide – set in motion a process to grant independence (or “autocephaly”) to a Ukrainian Orthodox Church seated in Kyiv, thereby freeing it from the control of the Russian Orthodox Church based in Moscow.  Far more than a simple rearrangement of the religious furniture in the Orthodox house, the decision has touched off an intense political firestorm in Ukraine and Russia that threatens to open a new – and possibly violent – front in the ongoing conflict between the Ukrainian and Russian governments.

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Teaching Chekhov in the Time of Trump



Chekhov’s stories model a certain way of being in the world. One might describe them as incorrigibly humanist, humanist in the most uncool sense. You can choose to interpret Chekhov in ways that make his texts more difficult than they really are, especially if you subscribe to the Modernist tenet that high art is all about difficulty. But I think if you do so you’re failing to experience what’s best and most important about the stories, which is simply their call to look humbly for truth, to attend carefully to ordinary life, and to practice ordinary human empathy. The prescriptions here are almost embarrassingly simple—but they are not at all easy.

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Enchanting Chaos



Today, an unsettling story by Alexander Grin. “To this day, an old courier stands at the corner of Miscue-Miscreance and Herbivory, having destroyed his youth and the beautiful home life he shared with his beloved wife by taking it upon himself one day to procure a caged bird without pay.”

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Researching Russian Conspiracy Theories in the Age of Trump



A funny thing happened to me while I was writing my book on conspiracy theory and contemporary Russia: my obscure little corner of Russian cultural studies suddenly threatened to become relevant. I started working on this topic somewhere during the George W. Bush presidency, but it took far too many years until I could hang up my own personal “Mission Accomplished” banner.  

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Our Pushkin?



Pushkinists know that today is a holiday. The first graduating class of the Tsarkoe Selo Lyceum annually celebrated the anniversary of their first day of school by gathering, drinking, and reminiscing. In its early years, this holiday was suffused with the “Lyceum Spirit” (litseiskii dukh) that earned the graduates a reputation for libertinism and went on to become a watch-word for the secret police.

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New York Public Library Appoints Full-Time Slavic Curator



On October 15, 2018, Bogdan Horbal became the full-time Slavic curator at the New York Public Library. He holds a Ph.D. in history from University of Wrocław in Poland and an MLS from Queens College. Before his appointment, he was head of Technical Processing at the Science, Industry and Business Library. In this post, Susan Smith-Peter interviews Dr. Horbal, who now takes charge of a fantastic collection with much to offer scholars in Slavic Studies and adjacent fields. 

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