Recent Faculty Publications

John E. Bowlt. Moscow & St. Petersburg 1900-1920: Art, Life & Culture of the Russian Silver Age. Vendome Press, 2009

 “This lushly illustrated volume captures the artistic explosion that was Russia's Silver Age.” ~ Russian Life

“(An) authoritative feast of a book.” ~ The Irish Times

“Splendidly illustrated, beautifully designed . . .”~ Shepherd Express

“A truly seminal work . . .” ~ Midwest Book Review

Lavishly illustrated, Moscow & St. Petersburg 1900- 1920 is the quintessential guide to Russia’s vibrant and influential Silver Age. In this elegantly written narrative survey, John E. Bowlt sheds new light on Russia’s Silver Age, the period of artistic renaissance that flourished as Imperial Russia’s power waned. Much of the creative energy could be attributed to the Symbolist movement, whose proponents sought to transcend the barriers of bourgeois civility and whose unconventional lifestyles led some critics to label them Decadents and Degenerates. But, as Sergei Diaghilev declared, theirs was not a moral or artistic decline, but a voyage of inner discovery and a reinvention of a national culture.

Bowlt’s richly textured volume focuses not only on Russia’s best known artists from this period - Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, Igor Stravinsky, Anna Pavlova, and poet Anna Akhmatova - but also on lesser known attainments of the period, including experimental theater, Nikolai Kalmakov’s innovative painting, and the free dance practiced by followers of Duncan and Dalcroze.

Thomas Seifrid. A Companion to Andrei Platonov's The Foundation Pit. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2009

Written at the height of Stalin's first "five-year plan" for the industrialization of Soviet Russia and the parallel campaign to collectivize Soviet agriculture, Andrei Platonov's The Foundation Pit registers a dissonant mixture of utopian longings and despair. Furthermore, it provides essential background to Platonov's parody of the mainstream Soviet "production" novel, which is widely recognized as one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century Russian prose. In addition to an overview of the work's key themes, it discusses their place within Platonov's oeuvre as a whole, his troubled relations with literary officialdom, the work's ideological and political background, and key critical responses since the work's first publication in the West in 1973.

A Feast of Wonders: Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes Edited by John E. Bowlt and Zelfira Tregulova. New York: Rizzoli / Skira, 2009

In May 1909, Sergei Diaghilev astonished the world of dance with his first ballet presentations in Paris that demonstrated an unprecedented combination of vitality and grace, originality, and technical sophistication. This catalogue of over three hundred artworks related to the Saisons Russes between 1909 and 1929 is the official companion to an exhibition in Monte Carlo. The legendary productions are brought to life through stage designs, costumes, paintings, sculptures, photographs, and programs. The artwork comes from a wide variety of public and private collections, including the Fokine collection in the St. Petersburg Theatre Museum. Diaghilev’s scenic achievements are complemented by a number of contextual paintings, drawings, and other artifacts, which help to define Russia’s cultural renaissance of the first decades of the twentieth century. The documentary section of the catalog contains rich archival material, including letters, photographs, choreographic notes, and memoirs, many published here for the first time.

Marcus C. Levitt. Early Modern Russian Letters: Texts and Contexts. Studies in Russian and Slavic Literatures, Cultures and History.Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2009

The volume brings together twenty essays by Prof. Levitt concerning a spectrum of works and issues that shaped the development of modern Russian literature.  The first part of the collection explores the career and works of Alexander Sumarokov, who played a formative role in literary life of his day. In the essays of the second part Levitt argues that the Enlightenment’s privileging of vision played an especially important role in eighteenth-century Russian culture, and that this “ocularcentrism” was profoundly shaped by indigenous religious views. Early Modern Russian Letters offers a series of original and provocative perspectives on a fascinating but little studied period.

Victor Zhivov. Language and Culture in Eighteenth-Century Russia. Translated by Marcus C. Levitt. Studies in Russian and Slavic Literatures, Cultures and History. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2009

Viktor Zhivov's Language and Culture in Eighteenth-Century Russia is one of the most important studies ever published on eighteenth-century Russia. Historians and students of Russian culture agree that the creation of a Russian literary language was key to the formation of a modern secular culture, and Language and Culture traces the growth of a vernacular language from the "hybrid Slavonic" of the late seventeenth century through the debates between "archaists and innovators" of the early nineteenth century. Zhivov's study is an essential work on the genesis of modern Russian culture; the aim of this translation is to make it available to historians and students of Russian culture.

Times of Trouble: Violence in Russian Literature and Culture Edited by Marcus C. Levitt and Tatyana Novikov. University of Wisconsin Press, 2007

"The first book of its kind to address head-on the problem of violence in Russian culture."-Angela Brintlinger, Ohio State University

Looking at the country that has added to our vocabulary such colorful terms as "purges," "pogroms," and "gulag," this collection investigates the conspicuous marks of violence in Russian history and culture.

Russians and non-Russians alike have long debated the reasons for this endemic violence. Some have cited Russia's huge size, unforgiving climate, and exposed geographical position as formative in its national character, making invasion easy and order difficult. Others have fixed the blame on cultural and religious traditions that spurred internecine violence or on despotic rulers or unfortunate episodes in the nation's history, such as the Mongol invasion, the rule of Ivan the Terrible, or the "Red Terror" of the revolution. Even in contemporary Russia, the specter of violence continues, from widespread mistreatment of women to racial antagonism, the product of a frustrated nationalism that manifests itself in such phenomena as the wars in Chechnya.

Times of Trouble is the first book in English to explore the problem of violence in Russia. From a variety of perspectives, essays investigate Russian history as well as depictions of violence in the visual arts and in literature, including the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Isaac Babel, Mikhail Lermontov, and Nina Sadur. From the Mongol invasion to the present day, topics include the gulag, genocide, violence against women, anti-Semitism, and terrorism as a tool of revolution.

What's New

Academic Studies Press recently published two works by our faculty: Thomas Seifrid's A Companion to Andrei Platonov's "The Foundation Pit"; and Marcus Levitt's translation of Viktor Zhivov, Language and Culture in Eighteenth-Century Russia.

  • Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • University of Southern California
  • College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
  • Taper Hall 255
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-4353