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“Suzdal’ God-daubers,” “Novgorodian quattrocento,” and the Russian Avant-Garde

January 23, 2012 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Portrait image of Irina Shevelenko outdoors wearing a blue shirt

Monday Seminar:

Irina Shevelenko

Slavic Languages and Literatures, UW-Madison

Resident Fellow (2011-2012)


At this seminar, I will present one of the case studies from my book-length project Modernism as Archaism: Nationalism and the Quest for a Modernist Aesthetic in Russia. I will explore what is arguably the most prominent example of the modernist “invention of tradition” in Russia: the discovery of old Russian icon painting and the politics of its appropriation by artistic culture of 1910s. I will outline the dramatic story of reevaluation of the tradition of icon painting, from its perception as an aesthetically negligible branch of popular industry to its construction as a foundation of Russian “high culture.” I will argue that, in particular, the politics of rhetorical and artistic appropriation of this tradition by experimental art was a culminating point in the project of reimagining the national tradition in late imperial Russia – the project in which Russian cultural elites sought to establish their traditions as independent of the “westernized” legacy of the imperial period, whose formative impact on modern Russian culture became a source of tension in the “age of nationalism.”


Irina Shevelenko (BA/MA, University of Tartu, Estonia; MA, Ph.D., Stanford University) is Assistant Professor of Russian Literature at UW-Madison. Her primary area of research is Russian Modernism. She is the author of a book on a major twentieth-century Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, Tsvetaeva’s Literary Path: Author’s Ideology, Poetics, and Identity in the Context of Epoch (2002, in Russian; new, revised, edition forthcoming in 2012) and a scholarly editor of several critical editions of archival sources, among which are Tsvetaeva’s notebooks (1997) and her correspondence with Boris Pasternak (2004); the latter edition earned a diploma of the Russian State Agency for Archives. Shevelenko’s initial research for her current project was generously funded in 2005-2007 by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany; she has published several articles related to it, and she currently works on the book manuscript.


January 23, 2012
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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University Club, Room 212
432 East Campus Mall
Madison, Wisconsin 53703 United States