• Founded
  • Seminar Number

The major areas of concern for this seminar are the history, literature, and arts of the Slavic peoples. These topics are taken broadly enough to include such subjects as economic development and religious and philosophic thought. Since 1987, the seminar has proceeded beyond its previous focus on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to include the twentieth century.

Professor Catherine Evtuhov

Professor Mark Lipovetsky

Tomi Haxhi

Meeting dates and locations are subject to change. Please confirm details with the seminar rapporteur.

Meeting Schedule

10/04/2019 Faculty House, Columbia University
6:00 PM
Specters of the Future: Space and Time in Post-Soviet Cinema
Daria Ezerova, Columbia University


Joan Didion writes that the Hoover Dam, that immense engineering project of 1930s America, “derives some of its emotional effect from precisely […] that sense of being a monument to a faith since misplaced.” “The place,” she continues, “is perfectly frozen in time.” Endowed with a sense of time that cannot easily be erased, space gives enduring form to projects that never materialized, to futures long since past.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, time has hardly stood still in Russia; rather, it has seemed to speed up, with the new replacing the old in an ever outward spread. And yet, within this postmodern flux, the mind still catches upon the material traces of the past. Like a radio signal from a deserted station, the Soviet ideal of progress towards a utopian “bright future” (svetloe buduschee) still emanates from the monuments of the metropolis, the industrial parks, and the struggling peripheries. Like the proverbial specter of communism, that future haunts the spaces of post-Soviet Russia.

My presentation will focus on the ways Russian cinema appropriates Soviet spatial representations, formerly tasked with foretelling endless progress, to articulate anxieties about the future after the end of communism. Keeping a keen eye on the transition to capitalism in the 1990s and the rise of authoritarian populism in the 2000s, I will demonstrate how spatial expression of the idea of progress reveals cultural and political complexities obscured by the umbrella category of the “post-Soviet.” In presenting a long-range crisis in thinking about the future as one of the key determinants of the post-Communist experience, the presentation will speak to broader questions of how pollical regimes shape our perception of space, time, and the subjective experience of history.

11/01/2019 Faculty House, Columbia University
6:00 PM
A Fishing Expedition in Sochi: Soviet Writers and Their Readers in Late Soviet Anti-Corruption Campaigns
Rhiannon Dowling, Columbia University

11/21/2019 Faculty House, Columbia University
6:00 PM
Poetry and Performance: The Eastern European Perspective
Tomas Glanc, University of Zurich (Switzerland)

Sabine Haensgen, University of Zurich (Switzerland)

02/14/2020 Faculty House, Columbia University
6:00 PM


03/06/2020 Faculty House, Columbia University
6:00 PM


04/03/2020 Faculty House, Columbia University
6:00 PM