452 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Russia and Eurasia about their New Books
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New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.4 • 31 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of Russia and Eurasia about their New Books
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    Paul Werth, "1837: Russia's Quiet Revolution" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Paul Werth, "1837: Russia's Quiet Revolution" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    When considering pivotal years in Russian history, one naturally thinks of 1861 (the Serf Emancipation), the 1905 Revolution, or the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Dr. Paul Werth’s 1837: Russia's Quiet Revolution (Oxford UP, 2021), invites us to reconsider that list of revolutionary years. Werth’s wide-ranging discussion analyzes such subjects as Pushkin’s death and Petr Chadaaev’s criticism of Russia’s past, to the Khiva campaign in which the Russian’s learned all they ever wanted to know about camels, but were afraid to ask. By the end of this engaging narrative, the reader comes to realize that post-1837 Russia was clearly on track (literally, in the case of the new railways) to become a different sort of place than it had been before. The era of Nicholas I has, with some justification, been portrayed as a stagnant, stultifying period. Werth’s book, however, demonstrates that the events of 1837, from the heir’s cross-country trip to the burning of the Winter Palace, did in fact add up to a “Quiet Revolution.”
    Aaron Weinacht is Professor of History at the University of Montana Western, in Dillon, MT. He teaches courses on Russian and Soviet History, World History, and Philosophy of History. His research interests include the sociological theorist Philip Rieff and the influence of Russian nihilism on American libertarianism.
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    • 1 hr 8 min
    Nadieszda Kizenko, "Good for the Souls: A History of Confession in the Russian Empire" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Nadieszda Kizenko, "Good for the Souls: A History of Confession in the Russian Empire" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    From the moment that Tsars as well as hierarchs realized that having their subjects go to confession could make them better citizens as well as better Christians, the sacrament of penance in the Russian empire became a political tool, a devotional exercise, a means of education, and a literary genre. It defined who was Orthodox, and who was 'other.' First encouraging Russian subjects to participate in confession to improve them and to integrate them into a reforming Church and State, authorities then turned to confession to integrate converts of other nationalities. But the sacrament was not only something that state and religious authorities sought to impose on an unwilling populace. Confession could provide an opportunity for carefully crafted complaint. What state and church authorities initially imagined as a way of controlling an unruly population could be used by the same population as a way of telling their own story, or simply getting time off to attend to their inner lives.
    Nadieszda Kizenko's book Good for the Souls: A History of Confession in the Russian Empire (Oxford UP, 2021) brings Russia into the rich scholarly and popular literature on confession, penance, discipline, and gender in the modern world, and in doing so opens a key window onto church, state, and society. It draws on state laws, Synodal decrees, archives, manuscript repositories, clerical guides, sermons, saints' lives, works of literature, and visual depictions of the sacrament in those books and on church iconostases. Russia, Ukraine, and Orthodox Christianity emerge both as part of the European, transatlantic religious continuum-and, in crucial ways, distinct from it.
    Paul Werth is a professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
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    • 57 min
    Maria Stepanova, "The Voice Over: Poems and Essays" (Columbia UP, 2021)

    Maria Stepanova, "The Voice Over: Poems and Essays" (Columbia UP, 2021)

    Is it just a coincidence that three books by the major Russian writer Maria Stepanova have appeared in English in 2021? Why does Maria Stepanova deploy such a rich variety of voices and forms? What are the challenges of translating her poetry? Who are the pantheon of deceased writers who seem to haunt her every line? 
    In this conversation, the editor of The Voice Over: Poems and Essays (Columbia UP, 2021), Irina Shevelenko talks about Stepanova's poetry and prose with Duncan McCargo. Irina elaborates on her wonderful introduction to the collection and explains how she assembled an outstanding team of translators to help bring this work to an international audience. Both Duncan and Irina read extracts from Stepanova's work.
    Maria Stepanova is the author of over ten poetry collections as well as three books of essays and the documentary novel In Memory of Memory.
    (US: New Directions, Canada: Book*hug Press, UK: Fitzcarraldo), which was shortlisted for the 2021 Man Booker International Prize. 
    Her poetry collection War of the Beasts and the Animals was published by Bloodaxe Books, also in 2021. She is the recipient of several Russian and international literary awards.
    Irina Shevelenko is professor of Russian at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Additional translations are by: Alexandra Berlina, Sasha Dugdale, Sibelan Forrester, Amelia Glaser, Zachary Murphy King, Dmitry Manin, Ainsley Morse, Eugene Ostashevsky, Andrew Reynolds, and Maria Vassileva.
    For a video of the May 2021 launch event for The Voice Over, featuring Maria Stepanova and several of the translators, see 
    Book Launch of Maria Stepanova’s The Voice Over: Poems and Essays – A Reading and Conversation – CREECA – UW–Madison (wisc.edu)
    Maria Stepanova is one of the most powerful and distinctive voices of Russia’s first post-Soviet literary generation. An award-winning poet and prose writer, she has also founded a major platform for independent journalism. Her verse blends formal mastery with a keen ear for the evolution of spoken language. As Russia’s political climate has turned increasingly repressive, Stepanova has responded with engaged writing that grapples with the persistence of violence in her country’s past and present. Some of her most remarkable recent work as a poet and essayist considers the conflict in Ukraine and the debasement of language that has always accompanied war. The Voice Over brings together two decades of Stepanova’s work, showcasing her range, virtuosity, and creative evolution. Stepanova’s poetic voice constantly sets out in search of new bodies to inhabit, taking established forms and styles and rendering them into something unexpected and strange. Recognizable patterns of ballads, elegies, and war songs are transposed into a new key, infused with foreign strains, and juxtaposed with unlikely neighbors. As an essayist, Stepanova engages deeply with writers who bore witness to devastation and dramatic social change, as seen in searching pieces on W. G. Sebald, Marina Tsvetaeva, and Susan Sontag. Including contributions from ten translators, The Voice Over shows English-speaking readers why Stepanova is one of Russia’s most acclaimed contemporary writers.
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    • 50 min
    A. S. Agadjanian and S. M. Kenworthy, "Understanding World Christianity: Russia" (Fortress Press, 2021)

    A. S. Agadjanian and S. M. Kenworthy, "Understanding World Christianity: Russia" (Fortress Press, 2021)

    Christianity is a global religion. It's a fact that is too often missed or ignored in many books and conversations. In a world where Christianity is growing everywhere but in the West, the Understanding World Christianity series offers a fresh, readable orientation to Christianity around the world. Understanding World Christianity is organized geographically, by nation and region. Noted experts, in most cases native to the area of focus, present a balanced history of Christianity and a detailed discussion of the faith as it is lived today. Each volume addresses six key "intersections" of Christianity in a given context, including the historical, denominational, sociopolitical, geographical, biographical, and theological settings. Understanding World Christianity: Russia (Fortress Press, 2021) offers a compelling glimpse into the vibrant and complex picture of Christianity in the Russian context. It's an ideal introduction for students, mission leaders, and any others who wish to know how Christianity influences, and is influenced by, the Russian context.
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    • 1 hr
    Gökten Dogangün, "Gender Politics in Turkey and Russia: From State Feminism to Authoritarian Rule" (I. B. Tauris, 2019)

    Gökten Dogangün, "Gender Politics in Turkey and Russia: From State Feminism to Authoritarian Rule" (I. B. Tauris, 2019)

    Both Russia and Turkey were pioneering examples of feminism in the early 20th Century, when the Bolshevik and Republican states embraced an ideology of women's equality. Yet now these countries have drifted towards authoritarianism and the concept of gender is being invoked to reinforce tradition, nationalism and to oppose Western culture. Gökten Dogangün's book Gender Politics in Turkey and Russia: From State Feminism to Authoritarian Rule (Bloomsbury, 2019) explores the relationship between the state and gender equality in Russia and Turkey, covering the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the Republican Revolution of 1923 and highlighting the very different gender climates that have emerged under the leaderships of Putin and Erdogan.
    The research is based on analysis of legal documents, statistical data and reports, as well as in-depth interviews with experts, activists and public officials. Dogangün identifies a climate of 'neo-traditionalism' in contemporary Russia and 'neo-conservatism' in contemporary Turkey and examines how Putin and Erdogan's ambitions to ensure political stability, security and legitimacy are achieved by promoting commonly held 'family values', grounded in religion and tradition. The book reveals what it means to be a woman in Turkey and Russia today and covers key topics such as hostility towards feminism, women's employment, domestic violence, motherhood and abortion. Dogangün provides the first comparative study that seeks to understand the escalation of patriarchy and the decline of democracy which is being witnessed across the world.
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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Zuza Zak, "Amber & Rye: A Baltic Food Journey: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania" (Allen & Unwin, 2021)

    Zuza Zak, "Amber & Rye: A Baltic Food Journey: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania" (Allen & Unwin, 2021)

    Food writer Zuza Zak’s latest book, Amber & Rye: A Baltic Food Journey: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (Allen & Unwin, 2021) is a remarkable exploration of one of Europe’s better-kept secrets: the food and culture of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, known collectively as the three “Baltic States.” But as “Amber & Rye” proves so ably, each of these countries has its own unique and distinct culinary roots and culture, and each country is currently experiencing a lively culinary renaissance, which makes “Amber & Rye” an especially timely and welcome addition to this season’s new cookbooks.
    Zak’s initial inspiration was her Lithuanian grandmother’s tales of her youth in Vilnius, and these memories launched Zak on a quest to discover the heart of the region through an examination of its food. The cuisines of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are very much a reflection of their terrain and are shaped by the bracing climate of the Baltic sea. Fish — be it fresh, salted, or smoked— is a major player in each country’s cuisine, as are meat, grains, root vegetables, mushrooms, berries, and the region’s incomparable dairy products. With some influences from their near neighbors: Russia, Germany, Poland, and Scandinavia, the Baltic States’ cuisines remain magnificently their own — as Zak emphasizes throughout “Amber & Rye.”
    “Amber & Rye’s” adroit structure offers recipes from all three countries in chapters that cover breakfast, appetizers, soups, main courses, salads, desserts, and beverages and a delightful section on the region’s famous pickles, ferments, and preserves. In the approachable style and easy-to-follow recipes that made Zak’s first book, “Polska” such a success, the recipes of “Amber & Rye” showcase the building blocks of Baltic cuisine such as kama, hemp butter, and herring in fresh and engaging recipes, which are easy to replicate in an ordinary home kitchen.
    The recipes are sandwiched between insightful travel essays about the cities Zak visited on her Baltic odyssey, which offer keen insight into the individual history and culture of each place. The region’s rich history includes membership in the commercial powerhouse of the Middle Ages, the Hanseatic League, the era dominated by the crusading Teutonic Knights, and the strategic alliance between Lithuania and Poland, which made the region a major power broker in the sixteenth century. Zak also charts the more recent struggle of the three Baltic countries to preserve their unique heritage and traditions alive during the seventy years of Soviet rule, and the key role played by music, art, culture, and of course food in the ultimate success of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia reclaiming their heritage and enjoying the freedom to celebrate it today.
    The title, “Amber & Rye” is an apt choice. Rye is omnipresent in the Baltic countries — a tenacious, life-giving grain that is found in almost every meal. Amber, the ancient substance formed from the sap of conifer trees, is a potent symbol in each of the three counties: of energy, power, and the preservation of memory. In “Amber & Rye” Zuzu Zak has captured both the life force and the power of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia and made them available to readers through her delightful and compelling exploration of the cuisines, culture, and history of these three Baltic countries.
    Zuza Zak is a food writer based in London, where she is a Ph.D. student at University College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies. Zak’s debut cookbook, “Polska: New Polish Cooking,” was selected as one of the best cookbooks of 2016 on BBC Radio 4’s The Food Program. “Amber & Rye” is published in America by Interlink Publishing.
    Jennifer Eremeeva is an American expatriate writer who writes about travel, culture, cuisine and culinary history, Russian history, and

    • 52 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
31 Ratings

31 Ratings

dickmodel69 ,

Great content needs great equipment

Really interesting and insightful conversations but the quality of people calling in is very poor. It is sometimes very hard to follow along because of that.

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Audio Problems

I really want to like this podcast but the audio , especially the guests' is horrible. Tinny sound with screeches

slimvlady ,

The Cold War, a world history

Doesn’t anyone listen to this podcast before you post them? The sound quality was horrible. The subject matter was interesting enough to keep me listening until I couldn’t stand to listen any longer. The interviewer sounded like he was in an echo chamber and the interviewee sounded like he was on a cell phone that kept going in and out of range. It sounds so amateur it’s hard to take you guys seriously. Try having a little pride in the quality of what you do. Perhaps your podcast would be more successful and you would even attract donations

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