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Emily Van Buskirk – To Analyze or Not: The Documentary Prose of Varlam Shalamov and Lydia Ginzburg

February 15, 2019 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Please join us on Friday, February 15th for “To Analyze or Not: The Documentary Prose of Varlam Shalamov and Lydia Ginzburg”, a workshop with Emily Van Buskirk, Rutgers University. This event is part of the Occasional Series, sponsored by the NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia. Please click here to RSVP for this event.

Varlam Shalamov and Lydia Ginzburg are both writers of innovative documentary prose that seeks to capture the experiences of the Soviet subject.  They came of age in the 1920s and carried that era’s sense of the crisis of the novel into the decades that followed, rejecting the novel’s fictional mode, traditional structure, and cult of literary heroes. While this talk will reveal the common ground in the way the two writers frame the most important themes of their time and strive to uncover the behavioral “regularities” (zakonomernosti) of the typical person living through war and totalitarian terror, it focuses on the strikingly different tools they employ to understand and represent their quasi-fictional characters. The paper forms part of a larger project on documentary prose written in response to catastrophic experiences of war, terror, and the camps. It will contain a coda on Svetlana Alexievich, a writer of a different generation who adopts a different approach to documentary prose, building on and modifying the tradition of her predecessors.

Emily Van Buskirk is Associate Professor of Slavic Literature and Director of the Russian and East European Program at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. She is author of Lydia Ginzburg’s Prose: Reality in Search of Literature (Princeton University Press, 2016), which co-won the MLA Scaglione Prize and was awarded the AATSEEL Prize for Best Book in Literary Studies. She has co-edited, with Andrei Zorin, two additional volumes on Ginzburg (Lydia Ginzburg’s Alternative Literary Identities and a Russian edition of Ginzburg’s blockade prose), and has edited and revised the English translation of Notes from the Blockade (for Random House). Her current project is a study of documentary prose that seeks to respond to the catastrophic experiences of the Soviet twentieth century.


February 15, 2019
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
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NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia
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