• Apr 3 - 5, 2008

Aleksandr Pushkin: An Historic Symposium at Harvard

  • Harvard University

Exploring the Dual Heritage of Russia’s Greatest Poet
Father of Modern Russian Literature and the
Black Russians of the 20th Century

Thursday, April 03, 2008 – Saturday, April 05, 2008
Harvard University

This symposium will provide an opportunity for a reappraisal of certain seminal areas of the work of Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin (1799-1837), the father of modern Russian literature, first, through the lens of his Black heritage, and secondly, by examining the innovative and universal significance of his work through a literary lens. This reappraisal will focus on Pushkin’s own expressions born of that “dual consciousness” in his work that spanned several genres, and it will review some of the scholarship devoted to his work by literary critics and Pushkin experts.

The symposium will also offer an opportunity to explore the experience of American Blacks who were drawn to Russia in the early to mid-1900s, from famous artists and intellectuals to Blacks from all walks of life, and their descendants, the Black Russians. We will derive fresh perspectives on Black-Russian links, evidenced by the crossing of national boundaries, and a rising consciousness of globalization in the 20th and into the 21st centuries in spheres as varied as the literary, the cultural, and the historical, to the educational and sociopolitical.

The result of these explorations is a new recognition of Pushkin as a creative genius, gifted visionary, and model for other peoples of color.

Program Synopsis:

Thursday, April 3
6:00–8:00 p.m.
Opening Reception
Thompson Room, Barker Center for the Humanities, 12 Quincy St., Cambridge

Meet the presenters, bilingual poetry recital, excerpts from the Bolshoi production of Boris Godunov

Friday, April 4
9:00 a.m.–7:30 p.m.
Harvard Faculty Club, 2nd Floor Library, 20 Quincy St., Cambridge

9:00 a.m. – Registration

10:00 a.m. – Opening of Proceedings & Welcome Remarks

  • Walter C. Carrington (Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria & Senegal)

10:15 a.m. – Session I: Pushkin’s Blackness

  • Professor F. Abiola Irele (Harvard University)
  • Katia Kapovich and Philip Nikolayev (bilingual poets)
  • Dieudonné Gnammankou (Paris, France)
  • Professor Catharine Nepomnyashchy (Columbia University)

12:30 p.m. – Lunch (Registration & Exhibitions Continue)

2:00 p.m. – Session II/A & B: Pushkin, Russian Literature & Music

  • Professor Julie Buckler (Harvard University)
  • Professor F. Abiola Irele (Harvard University)
  • Dr. Sonia I. Ketchian (Harvard University)
  • Isa Blyden (Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Moscow)
  • Anna Anatolievna Zayaruznaya (Harvard University Ph.D. candidate)
  • Professor Caryl Emerson (Princeton University)
  • Professor Klára Móricz (Amherst College)

6:15 p.m. – Reception

Saturday, April 5
9:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m.
Center for Government & International Studies (CGIS) South, Belfer Case Study Room (S020), 1730 Cambridge St., Cambridge

9:30 a.m. – Registration

10:30 a.m. – Greetings from the Office of the President

  • James S. Hoyte, Associate Vice President

10:45 a.m. – Session III: Pushkin and Black America

  • Professor Allison Blakely (Boston University/Harvard Du Bois Fellow)
  • Professor Joy Carew (University of Louisville)
  • Professor Kate Baldwin (Northwestern University)
  • Professor William Mills Todd, III (Harvard University)
  • Professor Caryl Emerson (Princeton University)

1:45 p.m. – Lunch (Exhibitions Continue)

2:45 p.m. – Session IV

  • Screening and discussion of Black Russians (Kara Lynch film)
  • Professor Harold Weaver (Harvard BlackFilm/China Film Project)
  • Katia Kapovich and Philip Nikolayev (bilingual poets)
  • Professor Maxim Matusevich (Seton Hall University; Harvard Du Bois Fellow)
  • Remembrance of Dr. Josephine Woll (Howard University)
  • The Returning of the Danilovsky Bells, Professor Diana Eck (Harvard University)

6:00 p.m. – Reception

Symposium Organizing Committee:

F. Abiola Irele, Visiting Professor of African and African American Studies, and of Romance Languages and Literatures (Lead Faculty)
William Mills Todd, III, Depts of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and of Comparative Literature
Sonia I. Ketchian, Harvard University Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies
Lolita Paiewonsky, J.D., EdM.

Departmental Sponsors and Partners at Harvard University:

W. E. B. Du Bois Institute of African and African American Research
Department of African and African American Studies
Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies
Department of Music
Humanities Center
Committee on African Studies
Office of the Provost for the Arts

Lead Faculty:

F. Abiola Irele, Visiting Professor of African and African American Studies and of Romance Languages and Literatures

Free and open to the public
Russian and Chadian-themed refreshments