University of Cambridge > > Slavonic Studies > Sense of Place lecture series: "Ways of seeing: Vladimir Korolenko’s Volga sketches"

Sense of Place lecture series: "Ways of seeing: Vladimir Korolenko’s Volga sketches"

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This presentation considers the sketches (both drawn and written) of one of pre-revolutionary Russia’s great writers and public figures. Korolenko lived for over a decade in Nizhnii Novgorod, a great market city on the central Volga; during that period he wrote extensively about his exploration (by boat and on foot) of the region. Korolenko was a more than capable draughtsman, and his notebooks contain pencil renderings of various sites along the river. His scientific education, his practice as an artist, and his many accounts of what he saw along the shores of the Volga all present intriguing examples of a talented writer/artist thinking about what John Berger has called “ways of seeing.” I will consider Korolenko’s sketches against the background of powerful associations of the Volga with Russian national identity – but also as a body of work that ruminates on what it means to see and then represent place.

Jane Costlow is the Clifford A. Griffiths Professor of Environmental Studies at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine USA . Her scholarly work has focused primarily on 19th century Russian literature and visual culture, ranging from the novels of Ivan Turgenev to writing by Russian women writers and representations of the bear in late Imperial culture. Recent publications include Heart-Pine Russia: Walking and Writing the 19th century Forest (Cornell 2013), which won the 2014 USC book prize in literary and cultural studies; and, with Amy Nelson, Other Animals: Beyond the Human in Russian Culture and History (Pittsburgh, 2010). At Bates she teaches courses in Environmental Humanities and Russian literature. Interests reflected in recent papers and conference presentations include disaster narratives in film and oral history, the films of Larisa Shepitko, and sacred springs in the Orel region. Her translation of Lydia Zinovieva-Annibal’s The Tragic Menagerie received the AATSEEL prize for best translation in 1999. She is currently working on a translation of Korolenko’s Volga Sketches.

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