Conference Review: BASEES Conference 2007

'Reactions and Reinventions: Changing Critical Genres in Slavonic and East European Literature, Culture and Politics since 1840'

The Centre for Russian, Central and Eastern European Studies (CRCEES) hosted the BASEES Postgraduate Conference on 8 December, 2007 at the University of Glasgow.

The conference was sponsored by the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES) and the Faculty of Law, Business and Social Sciences (University of Glasgow), and brought together research students working on various topics related to Eastern and Central Europe. Apart from academic goals, the aim of the conference was to encourage esprit de corps among the students from different universities and disciplinary backgrounds.

Attendance:

The conference was attended by research students from a number of UK universities, including Universities of St Andrews, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bath, Cambridge and University College London. Two of the paper givers came from outside the UK - Mariya Ivancheva from the Central European University (Budapest, Hungary) and Felicitas Macgilchrist from European University Viadrina (Frankfurt/Oder, Germany).

Pre-conference Round Table:

The conference kicked off with a pre-conference round table 'Re-Imagining the Russian Bear' on 7 December, 2007. The round table provided a relaxed and friendly environment for the conference participants to get to know each other and to share their ideas on changing Western perceptions of Russia, Eastern and Central Europe. Among the questions discussed were:

  • Where does the border between Eastern and Western Europe lie?
  • How is Moscow perceived in the West?
  • Does 'Russophobia' exist in the West? Is it 'Russophobia' or 'Putino-mania'? Themes discussed:

Conference papers looked at a wide range of topics – from media representations of Russia, Vasilii Rozanov's theory of art to an analysis of Vaclav Havel's works. The papers were organised into three panels that covered three broad areas of Eastern and Central European studies – politics, culture and literature:

  • Panel 1: Back to the Cold War? Russia, Eastern Europe and the West in the 21st Century

Raul Carstocea (UCL) discussed the impact of far-right politics in modern Romania, while Felicitas Macgilchrist (European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder) examined how media preconceptions may have influenced our understanding of the Litvinenko assassination case (and, by extension, Western attitudes to Putin's government). Finally, Mariya Ivancheva (Central European University, Budapest) explored the use of civil society as a discursive frame in Vaclav Havel's writing. Professor Stephen White (University of Glasgow) summarized the three topics.

  • Panel 2: Literary Hybrids: Stylistic Cross-Fertilisation in Russian and Eastern European Literature since 1840

Joanne Shelton (University of Bath) opened the session on literature with a paper on how and why modern Russian popular fiction sets stereotypes of femininity. Anna Andrzejewska (University of Glasgow) returned to the nineteenth century with an investigation into why the dramatist Saltykov-Shchedrin was overlooked in his own time, and Adam Ure (UCL) finished by discussing the interpenetration of art and philosophy in Vasilii Rozanov's creative work. All the papers were warmly welcomed by Dr Margaret Tejerizo (University of Glasgow), the panel chair.

  • Panel 3: Alternative Aesthetics: Approaches to Interpreting Russian and East European Culture through Smell, Taste and Touch

Chaired by Andrei Rogatchevskii (University of Glasgow), this panel was characterised by non-traditional analyses of Eastern European culture. The first paper was by Uilleam Blacker (UCL), who explored multisensory representations of the urban environment in Ukrainian Literature. He was followed by Vanessa Rampton (King's College, University of Cambridge), whose paper proposed that overtly nationalistic Russian cinema, such as Balabanov's 'Brat', actually offer new and alternative formulae for ethnic harmony. Lars Lyngsgaard Fjord Kristensen (University of St Andrews), giving the final paper of the day, discussed the formation of nationality and identity in Russian-Israeli diasporic cinema.

Keynote address:

The keynote address was given by Professor Terry Cox (current President of the BASEES and editor of Europe-Asia Studies) and Dr Margaret Tejerizo (editor of Rusistika).

Speaking on the topic of 'Getting Published', Professor Cox and Dr Tejerizo shared with the conference participants their experience of editing academic journals, and discussed the importance of publications for an academic career and possible strategies of publishing research findings.

Future plans

Selected conference papers will be submitted for publication in a special issue of the on-line journal eSharp: http://www.gla.ac.uk/esharp/

Related links: BASEES Conference 2007


First published: 20 December 2007