Yolanda Zhang

Articles by Yolanda Zhang

Poor Liza and Russia’s Sentimental Marketplace

On December 11, 2020, the Jordan Center welcomed Prof. Kirill Ospovat for a talk on links between narrative modes and visions of economy that defined Russian sentimentalism. Through a close reading of Karamzin’s classic Poor Liza (1792), Ospovat will illuminate the constructions of “sentimental commerce” which aligned specific modes of subjectivity and spectatorship with visions of the market, debates on luxury, and analysis of poverty. He is an assistant professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of “Terror and Pity: Aleksandr Sumarokov and the Theater of Power in Elizabethan Russia” (2016) and “Pridvornaia slovesnost’. Institut literatury i konstruktsii absoliutizma v Rossii serediny XVIII veka” (2020). His next book will explore the social aspects of Russian sentimental fiction through close readings of Karamzin, Gogol, and Dostoevsky. The talk was introduced by Ilya Kliger, Associate Professor of Russian & Slavic Studies at New York University.

Continue reading...

Medical Ethics and the Crisis of the Doctor-Patient Relationship in the Early Soviet Union

On November 2, 2020, the Jordan Center welcomed Kenneth Pinnow for a talk on the doctor-patient relationship amid the Soviet state’s undertaking of providing universal public health in the 1920s and 1930s. Dr. Pinnow is Professor of History and Global Health Studies at Allegheny College. He currently holds the Henry B. and Patricia Bush Tippie Professorship and recently served as the director of Allegheny’s Global Health Studies Program. He is the author of Lost to the Collective: Suicide and the Promise of Soviet Socialism (Cornell, 2010), and has published on criminology and the social sciences in the early Soviet Union. He is currently researching the history of medical ethics and research in the Soviet Union, with an emphasis on the formative decades of the USSR. The talk was introduced by Yanni Kotsonis, Professor of History and Russian & Slavic Studies at New York University.

Continue reading...

Sergei Eisenstein and Immersion in Nature

On October 23, 2020, the Jordan Center hosted Joan Neuberger, Professor of History at The University of Texas at Austin, for a talk on Soviet filmmaker and theorist Sergei Eisenstein’s 1945 essay, “The Music of Landscape.” By juxtaposing Eisenstein’s cosmology with his contemporaries’ anthropocentric discourses, Neuberger showed how immersion in nature offered Eisenstein new avenues for further developing his ideas about self, art, radical politics, and the productive contradictions of montage. The talk was introduced by Bruce Grant, Professor of Anthropology at New York University.

Continue reading...

Ode to the Hybrid: Writing as a Russian-American

On October 16, 2020, the Jordan Center hosted Olga Livshin, an English-language poet of Jewish descent, via Russia and Ukraine. Livshin began by introducing and reading excerpts from her recently published A Life Replaced: Poems with Translations from Anna Akhmatova and Vladimir Gandelsman (2019). She then joined Professor Eliot Borenstein to discuss the challenges of finding the right words for transnational ties to her home countries after the 2016 election as a poet and translator.

It is not a coincidence that Livshin started to compile poems for her book in the US election year of 2016. “It is one of those projects you know you’ll have to do someday; and then you realize that you’ll have to do it soon—because the voices, such as yours, are not exactly being represented,” said Livshin, setting the tone for her experience as a minority writer caught in many worlds.

Continue reading...

Revolution Goes East: Imperial Japan and Soviet Communism

On September 17, Professor Tatiana Linkhoeva of NYU History joined the Jordan Center and the Center for the Humanities for the virtual launch of her book, Revolution Goes East (Cornell University Press, 2020). The monograph applies a novel global perspective to the classic story of the rise of communism and the various reactions it provoked in Imperial Japan. Linkhoeva started her talk by debunking the popular belief that socialism and communism only existed in countries like China and Korea, but not in Japan. She brought into focus the underexplored Japanese leftist thought and movement prominent in the imperial period and onwards. “A lot of the interwar developments in Japan happened either as a reaction or in conversation with the rise of socialist ideas globally and domestically,” said Linkhoeva.

Continue reading...

From Internationalism to Postcolonialism: Literature and Cinema between the Second and Third World

“Is the post- in postcolonial the post- in post-Soviet?” asked David C. Moore in 2001, prompting a reexamination of the dynamics between the Russian metropole and its Eurasian peripheries. But to deploy the postcolonial optic here is to presuppose the passing of an era of global ideological and cultural entanglements, primarily unfolding between the Second and the Third Worlds before the end of the Cold War. In his book talk on March 6th, 2020, Professor Rossen Djagalov revisited the history of Soviet Union’s cultural engagements with the literature, films, and cultures from a region now known as the Global South. His new monograph, From Internationalism to Postcolonialism: Literature and Cinema between the Second and Third World (McGill-Queens, 2020), reconstructs the Soviet Third-Worldist literary formation as that which bridges between the interwar-era internationalism and the present-day (post-Soviet) postcolonial studies. Rossen Djagalov is an Assistant Professor of Russian Slavic Studies at New York University, who focuses on socialist culture globally and, more specifically, on the linkages between cultural producers and audiences in the USSR and abroad. The talk was introduced by Yannis Kotsonis, Professor of History & Russian & Slavic Studies at New York University.

Continue reading...

How to Make Precarious Russia Habitable – or, What Russians Want in Putin’s Fourth Term

An enduring irony of life in small-town Russia, according to Morris, is that the structural causes of its fragility and decline – dependent on a single-Soviet-era company – are also the cause for its resilience. Morris referred to this phenomenon as “compressed social geography,” which emerges from the overwhelmingly blue-collar nature of this town that sustains solidarities, networks and moral values inherited from the socialist period.

Continue reading...

Yellow Star, Red Star: Holocaust Remembrance After Communism

Professor Subotic analyzed the commonplace conflation of communism with fascism across Serbia, Hungary, Croatia, Poland, and other Eastern European states. “Many of the museums and memorials have begun depicting their entire nation-state as victims of foreign regimes,” said Professor Subotic. By doing so, they not only ignored the lived experience of victims of those historical regimes but also avoided any critical self-examination of crimes that local populations were complicit in, such as the crimes of the Holocaust, or the crimes committed by the Soviet dictatorship.

Continue reading...