On October 18, 2019, Danny Wysong, Russian Studies alumnus (2007) talked about how his expertise in Russian language and culture opened up for him an exciting career in the field of cybersecurity. His past jobs in both the public and private sector have ranged from the detection and prevention of international human trafficking to the analysis and study of emerging threats in the cybercrime arena.
On September 19, 2019, Professor David Brandenberger from University of Richmond gave a talk entitled “Stalin’s Master Narrative” in which he discussed his book Stalin’s Master Narrative: A Critical Edition of the Short Course on the History of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks), co-edited with Mikhail Zelenov (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019). Dr. Brandenberger talked about his 12-year extensive archival research that resulted in a thorough critical study of the Short Course. In Stalin’s time the book was considered to be the encyclopedia of Bolshevism and served as primer of party history both at home and throughout the communist world abroad. Prof. Brandenberger discussed the history of the Short Course, starting with the inception of the text in the twenties, Stalin’s rewriting of the original version, Khrushchev’s denouncement of the book, and the afterlife of the party catechism.
After a month, students in the Saint Petersburg study abroad program find themselves in the thick of their documentary productions, taking advantage of every opportunity while in the field. Producing a documentary film is not an easy task. It takes a lot of research and planning to develop a story idea, to consider which concepts and themes to pursue, and decide what tone the piece should have to convey the film’s overall message. After answering these questions, one needs to start considering what the piece is going to look and sound like; in other words, what are the scenes that will make the piece turn into a coherent film? Will it need interviews? If so, with whom? Will the piece be best told through narration, or archival footage, or footage of a place within the city? If so, you need to arrange for those shoots. And all of this work is even before you pick up a camera!
Documentary filmmaking is a time intensive practice, as many of these students are learning. But it also takes determination, confidence, and a willingness to stick your neck out. It’s hard enough to do it in your native language. These students have been doing it in Russian. And they’ve never made a documentary before.
What has been the biggest surprise for me has been the access we have been getting while in St. Petersburg. For example, we interviewed top government personnel about the construction of the Marine Facade development. This is a controversial and sensitive issue for many, yet we were sent a car to drive us around the Facade to get B-roll footage of the terminal while it is still under construction. For another project, we spoke with Father Viktor, who oversees Smolensky Catedral and Saint Xenia Chapel. Father Viktor, who could have easily waved us away, graciously agreed to sit with us for a morning and talk in front of a camera about the younger generation of Russians in the Russian Orthodox Church. He then took us through the Cathedral and allowed us to film while a service was going on. On other occasions we’ve gotten access to film inside the historic Aurora Theater, inside the landmark Cafe Singer, and the renowned Pushkinskaya-10 art coop.
Collaborations with St. Petersburg University journalism students have benefits not only the projects, but the entire experience. In a sense, these students are our field producers, helping us acquire access to interviews and helping out during shoots. They offer advice on the story and suggestions as to the direction the pieces could go. With only two weeks left, students are pushing to get as much accomplished before they head home. Although hard work, the city has opened up to these students, which has been rewarding to watch.
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Officially as of today, we have been in St. Petersburg for two full weeks! It’s hard to believe that time is flying by so fast!
This past Monday, Sasha surprised us with a tour of Pushkin’s Museum, instead of our afternoon class. It was a great surprise! Pushkin’s Museum is located in the last apartment that Pushkin rented during his lifetime. The museum chronicles Pushkin’s life and gave our group a better understanding of why the Russians love Pushkin so much.
Tuesday, we toured St. Isaac’s Cathedral. It is the second tallest building in St. Petersburg…so what did we do? Climb to the top! The climb was winding and steep. It made a few of us quite nauseous. However, the breath taking view was well worth the climb.
After climbing to the top, we climbed down to actually go inside the cathedral. Personally, the most interesting part of the tour of the cathedral was learning about St. Isaac’s during WWII. The cathedral miraculously escaped being destroyed during the Siege of Leningrad, with only a few relatively minor injuries. Residents of the city consider this to be a miracle.
Earlier today, a few of us ventured to Nevsky Prospekt in search of a fun restaurant after class. We went to an Irish Pub called “O Hooligans”. We girls were very excited to learn that this week is “Fleet Week”! We hung out with a few American Navy officers who are actually based out of Norfolk, Va. Huge coincidence to be in the same place at the same time! Hopefully we will see more Navy men in the next few days before we depart for Moscow on Friday!
So I have been in Ufa for a little over a week and though it was time to post an update. Before we left for Russia, our group had a CLS orientation in Washington to meet each other and get information about how to use Russian after we graduate. It was great to meet all the people and everyone has been really nice and funin both classes and on excursions. Unfortunately, on the flight from Newark to Washington my suitcase was lost and still has not made it to Ufa, I have been told its in Moscow now, but I’m not sure if it will ever arrive. Luckily, my parents are great and drove down a new bag for me right before we had to leave, so I have clothing and such for the trip.
As for Ufa itself, it is very different than St. Petersburg. One of my favorite aspects of the city ismany of the signs are in Bashkir and Russian so one gets to see both cultures coexisting, although Russian is far more dominant.
My host family has been wonderful so far. I live with a woman, Farida Fagimovna and her 22-year old son Denis (accent on the last syllable) who just finished university. He studied water quality and control engineering which I understand very little about. But he has taken me around and we talk about sports, TV and movies so that has been interesting and really helpful for my language learning. He also worked in America last summer on the Work and Travel program so it has been interesting to hear what he thought about America and what he saw there.
Classes have been challenging, but I have been able to keep up and they are really helping my comprehension. Also, whenever I am at my homestay the TV seems to be on, so I have watched a good amount of Russian TV which helps me work on my accent and get new vocabulary. We are all are working on groups projects while we are here and I am working on media in Bashkortostan, so the things I learned in my senior seminaron Russian television last semester should come in handy.
Finally, since we are some of the few Americans to come to Ufa and a boon to their economy, we were on local television. So for you viewing pleasure, here is the link, its all in Russian but still interesting. I am seen briefly near the end.
I will update again after our excursions to religious sites in Ufa and some of the local museums.
This year WM Russian Studies students run a blog about their research, studies and adventures in Russia. If you would like to read the recent news from Russia, visit our blog at http://2011wmpetersburg.blogs.wm.edu
We wish to extend congratulations to the 2011 recipients of prizes and scholarships in Russian & Post-Soviet Studies.
- Monika Bernotas (Charles Center Scholarship for International Research)
- Monika Bernotas (Honorable Mention Certificate, ACTR National Rusian Essay Contest)
- Tara Calloway (Phi Beta Kappa)
- Sophie Kosar (2011 Dobro Slovo Scholarship)
- Jacob Lassin (Critical Language Fellowship, Ufa, Bashkortostan)
- Suzanne Reed (2011 Award for Excellence in Russian and Post-Soviet Studies)
- Suzanne Reed (Flagship Program in St. Petersburg)
- Suzanne Reed (Honorable Mention Certificate, ACTR National Rusian Essay Contest)
- William Sinnott (Post-Secondary National Russian Scholar Laureate) Will Sinnott’s Award Certificate (2011)
- William Sinnott (2011 MLL Book Award)
- 12th ACTR Russian Essay Contest (Participants: Monika Bernotas, Cheng Cheng, Eleonora Figliuoli, Ciara Kazmierski, Carl Larson, Alex McGrath, Robin Parrish, Suzanne Reed, Peter Yanev) Essay Topic
- National Slavic Honor Society, Dobro Slovo inductees (Ryan Akens, Kara Kolbe, Jacob Lassin, James O’Leary, Elizabeth Tait, and Sinead Tanner)
Congratulations to the winners of the Twelfth Annual ACTR National
Post-Secondary Russian Essay Contest. This year two William and Mary students
win honorable mention certificates: Monika Bernotas and Suzanne Reed.
In this year’s contest, there were 1,139 essays submitted from 59
universities and colleges across the nation. Each essay was ranked by three
judges in Russia.
Congratulations class of 2011 Russian Studies graduates! We hope to see you all soon at our traditional October Homecoming Reception in the Russian House!
Monika Bernotas has been awarded the Charles Center Scholarship for International Research for her summer 2011 research project. This much sought after scholarship will help Monika to study experimental art communities in Lithuania and Russia.
William Sinnott accepted his offer to Georgetown’s MA program in Russian and East European Studies. In 2011 Will received the Post-Secondary Russian Scholar Laureate Award.
NASA honored the 50th anniversary (today) of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic launch into space, was to have Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson team up with astronaut Cady Coleman for the “first space-Earth flute duet.” They played part of Bourree, which Anderson and his band played on tour way back in 1969 when the Apollo 11 astronauts were on their moon mission. Video of the duet is here. Enjoy.
Monday April 4, 7 pm (Washington 302).
The Inner Circle (1991, dir. Andrei Konchalovsky), starring the multi-talented Tom Hulce and Lolita Davidovich, is based on Ivan Sanchin, a KGB officer who is Stalin’s private film projectionist during the war years. It’s apparently explosive, unforgettable, and true.
An Eye Witness Account: Doing Hi Tech Business in Russia
Friday 3/25 at 3:30pm in Miller Hall 1088
As an executive of the United Technologies Corporation, Peter Barzach
developed, implemented and managed the start-up of the first US Manufacturing
Joint Venture (JV) with a member company of the Russian Ministry of Defense in
history. The JV was featured in the IVth Gore-Chernomyrdin Summit as an
example of how to do business in Russia. The JV recently celebrated it’s 10th
anniversary and won the Presidents Medal, the highest award given by the
Russian Federation. Mr. Barzach will discuss his experiences and the
of doing business in Russia.
Sponsored by the Russian and Post-Soviet Studies Program
This year nine students from three levels of Russian language courses took part in the competition: 5 students from Russian 102 (Cheng Cheng, Ciara Kazmierski, Karl Carlson, Robin Parrish, and Peter Yanev), 3 students from Russian 202 (Monika Bernotas, Eleonora Figliuoli, and Alex McGrath), and one student from Russian 340 (Suzanne Reed).
The international symposium “Post-Soviet Television: Global Formats and Russian Power” aims to offer a survey and a critical, reflective assessment of new approaches to the study of television in post-Soviet Russia. During the 1990s Russian television experimented with the new formats and modes of production (private, public, foundation-sponsored, joint-stock company). By the beginning of the new millennium this pluralistic model of television culture was replaced with a more traditional authoritarian one. The influx of global television formats and genres (sitcom, dramedy, soap opera, game and talk show, reality TV) coincided with the increasing return of the government control over television programming. This trend culminated during Putin’s presidency when the government took over the three national television channels: First, Russia, and NTV. Using new approaches and research findings, the symposium participants will examine the role of Russian television in post-Soviet political and media culture, the dialogue between the old Soviet-era and globally mediated formats that coexist on Russian television today. The participants include distinguished international scholars: Christine Evans (U. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), Helena Goscilo (Ohio State U.), Yana Hashamova (Ohio State U.), Steven Hutchings (U. of Manchester), Lilya Kaganovsky (U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Mark Leiderman (U. of Colorado, Boulder/Ural State Pedagogical University, Ekaterinburg), Tatiana Mikhailova (U. of Colorado, Boulder).
The symposium will also serve as a forum for undergraduate research at William & Mary. Students from the senior seminar “Russian Television Culture after Communism” will present their research at the undergraduate research panel at the symposium.
Apart from the scholarly component the symposium includes three public events: a public lecture by the keynote speaker Professor Hutchings (U. of Manchester) and two screenings. See the symposium schedule.
Starts: February 24, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Location: Muscarelle Museum of Art
Event URL: http://www.desertofforbiddenart.com/
Contact: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
This award-winning 2010 documentary highlights the life and achievements of Igor Savitsky (1915-1984), who rescued 44,000 works of unsanctioned Soviet art and founded a museum to display them. Today, the Nukus Art Museum, located in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan, holds the second largest collection of Soviet avant-garde art in the world. This collection, suppressed during Stalinism and the following decades, offers fresh perspectives on the art and history of the USSR.
How does art survive in a time of oppression? During the Soviet rule artists who stay true to their vision are executed, sent to mental hospitals or Gulags.
Their plight inspires young Igor Savitsky. He pretends to buy state-approved art but instead daringly rescues 40,000 forbidden fellow artist’s works and creates a museum in the desert of Uzbekistan, far from the watchful eyes of the KGB. Though a penniless artist himself, he cajoles the cash to pay for the art from the same authorities who are banning it. Savitsky amasses an eclectic mix of Russian Avant-Garde art. But his greatest discovery is an unknown school of artists who settle in Uzbekistan after the Russian revolution of 1917, encountering a unique Islamic culture, as exotic to them as Tahiti was for Gauguin. They develop a startlingly original style, fusing European modernism with centuries-old Eastern traditions.
Ben Kingsley, Sally Field and Ed Asner voice the diaries and letters of Savitsky and the artists. Intercut with recollections of the artists’ children and rare archival footage, the film takes us on a dramatic journey of sacrifice for the sake of creative freedom. Described as “one of the most remarkable collections of 20th century Russian art” and located in one of the world’s poorest regions, today these paintings are worth millions, a lucrative target for Islamic fundamentalists, corrupt bureaucrats and art profiteers. The collection remains as endangered as when Savitsky first created it, posing the question whose responsibility is it to preserve this cultural treasure.
Dr. Robert Moynihan, the editor of the magazine INSIDE THE VATICAN, presents a talk “Moscow and Rome: latest developments in Vatican-Russian relations in a geopolitical context.” Dr. Moynihan earned his Ph.D. at Yale U and his BA at Harvard.
“The Lighter Side of Russia” Thursday January 27, February 3, February 10 at 5 pm in Washington 301
(2009: Dir. Vladimir Bortko) Cossacks, forbidden pleasures, blood and gore. One critic called Vladimir Bortko’s adaptation of Taras Bulba—Gogolivud, a Hollywood action spectacle that has nothing to do with Nikolai Gogol’s 19th century novella, on which it is allegedly based, and everything to do with the conventions of the commercial film epic. Come watch the film that caused a scandal in several European nations upon its release in 2009.
Mark your calendars. Russian Studies students present three Russian fantasy films: an epic, a Soviet scifi film, and a post-Soviet action thriller. Screenings: Oct 7, Sadko (1953), Oct 14, The Amphibian Man (1962), and Oct 21 Night Watch (2004). All screenings will be in Tyler 201 at 5 pm.