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CamCREES bibliographical notes, references and suggestions for further reading in the UL

The Cambridge Committee for Russian and East European Studies (CamCREES) is an inter-departmental committee, facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration in Russian and East European studies between members, colleges and faculties in the University.  CamCREES organises fortnightly seminars during the Michaelmas and Lent terms.  Since February 2011, the University Library's Slavonic specialist has written bibliographical notes for each seminar, linking the seminar's subject with resources and facilities in the Library and beyond.



Memory and place : bibliographical notes for the Michaelmas 2015 CamCREES seminars

Thursday 14 January sees the first of the Lent term’s CamCREES seminars. This blog post provides a brief bibliographical note of the Michaelmas seminars: Sheila Fitzpatrick’s talk on memoirs and the first three lectures in the joint CamCREES/Department of Slavonic Studies series ‘A Sense of Place, on the Arctic, post-WW2 Eastern Europe, and the Russian graphosphere. 

Slavnym zavoevateliam Arktiki (1997.8.3465)

The Michaelmas term started with a talk by Professor Sheila Fitzpatrick.  The influence of her work on Russian history can be seen even with a brief look at the books written or edited by her held by the University Library.  Of the 29 titles currently in the catalogue, 7 are at the time of writing out to readers.  Professor Fitzpatrick’s latest book – On Stalin’s team : the years of living dangerously in Soviet politics – is one of those currently on loan but is otherwise available at 586:92.c.201.119.

Her talk, entitled “Stalin and Myself: On Writing History and Writing Memoirs,” saw Trinity College’s Winstanley Lecture Theatre packed full.  The author of two personal memoirs – A spy in the archives : a memoir of Cold War Russia (586:92.c.201.81) and My father’s daughter : memories of an Australian childhood (on order) – Professor Fitzpatrick spoke about the practice of autobiography and the insights she gained in undertaking her own memoirs.  The experience had shown her how deeply unreliable personal accounts could be.  If her own memories of certain events had turned out to be erroneous on discussing them with others, the same potential fallibility should surely also be assumed in the Russian memoirs she studied as a historian.

The remaining CamCREES seminar sessions for the 2015/16 academic year are being given within a joint CamCREES/Department of Slavonic Studies thematic lecture series, ‘A Sense of Place’.  The series “explores the lived environment of East Europe, Russia and Eurasia through sensory awareness and human emotion” [from here].  The three Michaelmas lectures in the series covered a huge geographical area and a similarly large temporal span.

Professor Lilya Kaganovsky, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, spoke on “The Arctic in the Russian Imagination”, giving an interesting insight into a new direction in her research.  She spoke on the various ways in which the Russian North has been “imagined through different historical/political moments of the early Soviet period to the present day”, looking at the North in terms of issues from expansion and exploration to incarceration and memory.  Professor Kaganovsky aimed “to showcase how the Arctic in the Russian/Soviet imaginary is not static, but has been consistently reconfigured through various historical and ideological paradigms, each set to in some way erase or reconceive the historical imaginary that came before.” [quotations from talk abstract]

Professor Kaganovsky paid particular thanks to the library of Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute in her talk.  The library holds an extraordinary collection of tens of thousands of Russian titles dedicated to the Russian North.  At the time of writing, the Russian bibliographer is busy working on their catalogue records before they are migrated to the main Cambridge library system.  In due course, however, Isabella will be invited to write a guest blog post on the SPRI Russian collection.   The UL’s Russian Arctic collections are tiny by comparison, but the first illustration on this page comes from an example of our holdings.  It shows the front cover of a 1933 publication, Slavnym zavoevateliam Arktiki (To the glorious conquerors of the Arctic; 1997.8.3465), showing the Soviet flag planted firmly on an Arctic landscape.

The second seminar saw Dr Uilleam Blacker, of UCL SSEES, speak on “Postwar L’viv, Kaliningrad, Wrocław”, looking at the way in which “popular culture appeals to the senses of its consumers in order to achieve specific memory effects”.   Dr Blacker talked about the ways in which current inhabitants can gain access to the pasts of these cities through cultural media such as works of fiction, how this access occurs “through the recreation of the sensory experience of inhabiting those cities” and about the “the mnemonic effects that are linked to that sensory experience”.  [quotations from talk abstract]

L’viv, Kaliningrad, and Wrocław are three crucial examples of cities whose name (from Lwów, Königsberg, and Breslau respectively), nationality, and – to a huge extent – population changed after World War 2.  Library conventions give every town or city a single name authority, with each change of name seeing the authorised heading for the city updated to make the latest form of name the main authorised form.  For example, to the right is a partial screenshot of the Library of Congress authority for L’viv.  Its main form is its current, Ukrainian spelling, but the city’s history can be seen in the multiple variant forms that follow.  In the 20th century alone, Austrian Lemberg became Polish Lwów became Ukrainian L’viv.  The main exception to the rule of using current local names is that countries and major cities (normally capitals) are generally established using the most common Anglophone form of their name – Ukraine, not Ukraïna, for example, and Kiev, not Kyïv.

The final talk of the Michaelmas term was given by the Department of Slavonic Studies’ Professor Simon Franklin.  Professor Franklin spoke on “The Public Graphosphere”, a strand of his current work on a cultural history of information technologies in Russia.  He looked at the history of the written word in the Russian public place from the Middle Ages to the mid-19th century, “from statues to shop-signs, from posters to triumphal arches”, exploring the development of the “graphosphere” and the influences upon it, and the “shifting and sometimes competing claims to spatial presence and authority of the Church, the State, commerce, and, eventually, private individuals”.  [quotations from talk abstract]

Looking for resources related to the later examples used by Professor Franklin – shop-signs and street advertisements – would lead the reader to subject headings such as Advertising and Commercial art.  Most Russian holdings on these subjects relate to the 20th century, but a few do stretch further back, such as Reklama v Rossii XVIII – pervoi poloviny XX veka (Advertisements in Russia from the 17th to the first half of the 20th century; S950.a.200.1459).  Catalogued only today is Vse na prodazhu! (Everything is for sale!; 2015.8.2659), the catalogue of an exhibition dedicated to commercial signs from the 19th and 20th centuries – a nicely illustrated addition to the collections.

The first CamCREES/’Sense of place’ talk of the Lent term will be given by the poet and scholar Polina Barskova.  “Representations of the Besieged Leningrad (1941-44)” will take place on Thursday 14 January at 5.30pm in the Umney Theatre in Robinson College.  All are most welcome.

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Darwin and Mechnikov in Tolstoy’s literary imagination

Friday 9 October sees the start of the 2015/16 CamCREES seminars. At the previous year’s final seminar, Professor Anna Berman (McGill University) spoke on Tolstoy’s attitude towards the scientific discoveries of Charles Darwin and Il’ia Mechnikov.  These CamCREES bibliographical notes look at accounts of Tolstoy’s meeting with Mechnikov and at Russian books on the latter and Darwin.

An intellectual triptych: Darwin, Mechnikov, Tolstoy.

Tolstoy’s opinion of science and scientists was, as all his opinions, very certain and firmly held.  Mechnikov in particular comes in for a scathing reception in his letters and diaries (one of his books is described as “very interesting in its scientific stupidity”).  Yet, as Professor Berman explained, despite Tolstoy’s frequent criticism of Darwin’s and Mechnikov’s theories “their ideas helped shape his fictional works. In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy used his two main characters to represent an acceptance and a rejection of Darwinian theory and, in so doing, highlighted the dangers of regarding it as scientific law. In his final novel, Resurrection, rather than making the characters’ fates provide a judgement on scientific theory as he did in Anna Karenina, Tolstoy co-opted Mechnikov’s phagocytic theory for his own ends, making it the metaphoric basis for his moral philosophy. This offered him a way of synthesizing science and religion through art.” (from the talk’s abstract)

Mechnikov’s phagocitic theory – a major work on immunity – won him the Nobel Prize in 1908, but such frivolities could not impress Tolstoy.  In May 1909, he and Mechnikov finally met.  The two men’s accounts provide a diverting insight into their characters.  While noting frankly what he considered to be Tolstoy’s flaw – his artistic and instinct-led reaction to issues versus the scientist’s more considered and informed response – Mechnikov wrote with enthusiasm about the day.  His host was evidently not overly keen to put him at his ease.  Tolstoy’s hard stare alone gets two mentions in the narrative, the first coming as soon as the Mechnikovs descend from their carriage.  “[Tolstoy] stared hard at me with his piercing pale eyes and, before anything else, informed me that I bore few resemblances to any likenesses he had seen of me”.

Mechnikov’s enjoyment at meeting Tolstoy, whose literary genius he greatly admired, is clear from his account, though, and he clearly felt that the two had a constructive meeting of minds and found agreement on various issues.  Tolstoy, on the other hand, had formed a rather different impression of the day.  “Mechnikov”, his diary reads, “turned out to be a very light-headed person … And very talkative.  Towards evening, as usual, I had grown tired of idle talk.”  Mechnikov is mentioned again that summer in Tolstoy’s journal.  In July, he wrote “I have been reading Mechnikov’s book … and have been horrified by its light-headedness and downright stupidity.”

Looking at what the University Library has on and by Mechnikov opened up a bibliographical can of worms.  As with so many Russians (Tolstoy included), Mechnikov has been transliterated by cataloguers and publishers in many different ways.  Our holdings were indexed under a total of 5 different forms of his name:

Metchnikoff, Elie, 1845-1916
Mechnikov, I. I.
Mechnikov, I. I. (Il’ia Il’ich)
Mechnikov, Ilya
Mechnikov, Il’ya Il’ich

The Library of Congress authorised form is the first (the French version of his name; Mechnikoff spent the last 18 years of his life in France), and all catalogue records now link to that.  Many of these books are in English, with others in Russian, French and German.  Other libraries such as the Whipple Library and the Balfour & Newton Libraries hold further material, reflecting Mechnikov’s scientific bent.

Darwin, in 8365.d.4. The illustration shows squirrels climbing his coat and trousers.

Most readers of this blog post will probably never have heard of Mechnikov before.  They will most certainly, however, have heard of the other scientist discussed – Charles Darwin.  The huge impact of Darwin’s work on intellectual thought throughout Europe and further afield is reflected in the huge number of items which can be found under the subject heading string Darwin, Charles, 1809-1882–Influence.  Among these is Alexander Vucinich’s Darwin in Russian thought (379:5.c.95.337), in which Tolstoy features many times.

Given the University Library’s particularly keen interest in Darwin (the building is home to the Darwin Correspondence Project‘s team), we hold works by him in a wide number of languages including five items in Russian.  Chief among these is an 8-volume collected works from 1907-9 (S380.c.90.1-8).  The earliest Russian Darwin-related book held is one about him: an 1894 work by the translator and editor of the 1907-9 set, Kliment Timiriazev – Charlz Darvin i ego uchenie (Charles Darwin and his teachings; 8365.d.4).  Ours is a third edition and is accompanied by the appendix Nashi antidarvinisty (Our anti-Darwinists).  Two figures appear as the main Russian anti-Darwinists: the naturalist Nikolai Danilevskii and the philosopher Nikolai Strakhov (a close friend of Tolstoy).

The photographs of the three men at the top come from: S380.c.90.1 (Darwin), 303:12.c.90.5 (Mechnikov), and S756.c.92.82 (Tolstoy).  The Mechnikov book – Stranitsy vospominanii (Pages of recollections) – is also the source of his memoir of his visit to Tolstoy.  The Tolstoy diary and letter excerpts come from the online version of his works featured in an earlier blog post on Tolstoy and completed since then.  That blog post used the form “Tolstoi” (we are in this one sticking to the form in Professor Berman’s seminar title); another Tolstoy/Tolstoi blog post addressed the sticky issue of his transliteration.


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Eisenstein’s Ivan : sensory thinking from Machiavelli to Disney

Cover and internal page of Eisenstein’s screenplays for the first two Ivan Groznyi films (415.d.94.41)

Professor Joan Neuberger (University of Texas at Austin) gave the final CamCREES seminar of the 2015 Lent term.  She spoke about the film cycle Ivan Groznyi (Ivan the Terrible) and the particular influence Walt Disney and his work had on its director and screenwriter Sergei Eisenstein.  This post explores the University Library’s Eisenstein holdings, including a book of his drawings.

Sergei Eisenstein (the anglicised version of Eizenshtein is used here), the subject which started off the first seminar of the 2014 Michaelmas term, reappeared in more detailed focus as the subject of the last of the 2015 Lent term seminars.  This time, it was his work on Ivan Groznyi which was under examination.  Eisenstein, the screenwriter as well as director, planned three films on Ivan the Terrible.  Only the first two were ever produced, and only the first of these released in his lifetime.  Professor Neuberger talked about interpretations of Eisenstein’s Tsar Ivan before moving on to Disney’s influence on the films and the film-maker.

The Ivan Groznyi cycle provides an endlessly rich source of material for debate on a number of fronts, not only as an extraordinary example of film-making.  Political and personal parallels, for example, between Ivan and Stalin (or Napoleon, or Machiavelli’s Prince) are often emphasised.  Ivan’s identity as “the Terrible” is another area much debated – is he groznyi through and through or does he become groznyi at a specific point?  This point was one which, Professor Neuberger explained, Eisenstein seemed to answer in his own notes, that there was a change and that the change came through desire for revenge – in order to have revenge, Ivan had to become as ruthless and predatory as those in his sights.

Disney and Eisenstein knew each other, meeting in person during Eisenstein’s time in the United States.  Professor Neuberger talked about Eisenstein’s notes and essays, particularly those in recently published works such as Metod  (Method; 415:3.c.200.457-458), on his philosophy of film in general and on Disney in particular.  Of all film-makers, Disney was the one Eisenstein felt most perfectly achieved what the medium could offer – the pre-logical fluidity of form, for example (going back to the point above about Ivan’s own change), which saw characters and items shift seamlessly into something often totally different.  The Library holds two English-language editions of Eisenstein’s writings on Disney (at CCB.56.253 and 1992.9.2138).  A Russian modern edition is on its way, and earlier Russian sets by Eisenstein (this 6-volume Soviet set, for example) include at least some parts of his deliberations.

Eisenstein’s sketches (top left and right) for Ivan over the coffin of his wife, with a still from the film production below. From Risunki (S404:27.b.9.5)

Among the University Library’s Eisenstein holdings are two books of his own drawings.  One is specific to his time in Mexico (Meksikanskie risunki Eizenshteina,S404:27.b.9.14), the other is more general. Risunki (Drawings, S404:27.b.9.5) contains sketches from various stages of Eisenstein’s life and work, including a section on theatre scenes and one on drawings for films.  The illustration to the right comes from the book’s section of drawings for the Ivan Groznyi cycle.  The page shows two sketches of Ivan standing over the coffin of his wife, deliberately elongated and angular in his grief and rage.  These are joined by a photo from the production, showing a moment from that scene with Eisenstein and his cameraman watching closely.  The actor playing Ivan embodies as closely as possible the cartoon, his arms thrown sharply up, while the dark clothing and pointed beard he wears add emphasis and angles to the shape of his body.

The Ivan Groznyi films are the main subject of several books in the Library, including Professor Neuberger’s own guide, one in the KINOfiles film companions series (2009.8.6335).  The most recent Ivan Groznyi book in the catalogue is in fact French (Éric Schmulevitch’s Ivan le terrible de S.M. Eisenstein415:3.c.201.201), but the remainder are in Russian or English.  Among these are several items held by the Music Department, which relate to the scores Sergei Prokof’ev composed for the two films.  A list of all these items can be seen here.

RGALI, the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art, holds Eisenstein’s papers (details, in Russian, here).  The University Library owns, at the time of writing, over 50 items for which Eisenstein is listed as author.  Only two predate 1948, the year of his death.  The earlier of these is, rather bizarrely, the German translation of the screenplay of his silent film Staroe i novoe (Old and new; CCB.54.163).  The second, a 1944 book, is in fact the screenplay of the first two Ivan Groznyi films (415.d.94.41).  The cover of this book and the opening page of part 2 make up the first illustration of the page.

A full list of material by Eisenstein in the Library can be seen here.


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Newspapers, readers and the “managed public sphere” during the Soviet sixties

A collage of newspaper titles from across the Soviet Union, shown in Leninskaia Pravda, item 4 in the list at the end of the post.

The third CamCREES seminar of the term saw Dr Simon Huxtable talk about the changing role of the newspaper in Soviet society. Under Stalin, papers focused on official and ceremonial information; actual news had a relatively small and controlled role to play. This changed hugely under Khrushchev, with the rise of the sobkorand analysis.

The Soviet newspaper before Khrushchev’s time did not fulfil the function that one might expect – the conveying of news was not its main concern.  Dr Huxtable quoted Lenin on the role of the paper: ‘The newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and collective agitator, but also a collective organiser’ (page 11 in volume 5 of our main Lenin set, 231.d.95.88).

Soviet papers were therefore more interested in the spread of ideas and ideals than of actual news.  They were also remarkable for their uniformity even in terms of the news they contained, with the press agency TASS providing standard fare across titles.  Taking random examples, Dr Huxtable demonstrated that official information standardly took precedence over actual news.  For a further example, I’ve looked at Pravda for 17 February (the date of the CamCREES seminar) 55 years ago, in 1950.  There are a couple of factors we should first take into account, though.  Firstly, Pravda was formally the paper of the Communist Party and political pieces were therefore its staple.  Secondly, 1955 saw the election of deputies to the Supreme Soviet.  Nevertheless, it is still a strange experience to look at a newspaper whose first five pages (of a total of six!) are dominated by election-related articles, including an address to voters from the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party which takes up the first 1.5 pages.  Almost no actual news is contained before page 6, other than a piece on Stalin’s lunch with Mao and the occasion of a Moscow party conference.

It is only on the final page of the newspaper, then, that we find what we would consider standard news.  Interestingly, the news is almost entirely from foreign countries; the few pieces of internal Soviet news to be found relate either to sport or to culture (a skiing competition in Sverdlovsk, for example, and a trip to Moscow by Bulgarian writers).  Most of the foreign pieces (all attributed to TASS) relate to Soviet political interests in one way or another.  The page is illustrated with a cartoon from the satirical title Krokodil about the forthcoming general election in the UK.  It shows Churchill and Attlee as batons held threateningly against a figure in the middle.  The hands that hold them come from the same person. While we don’t see their face, we are shown their cufflinks.  They display the US dollar.

The front covers of items 1 and 3 in the list at the end.

As Dr Huxtable explained, the role of news was debated actively under Stalin, but the journalistic tide changed for the first time under Khrushchev.  Papers’ contents were more populist and sensationalist than in the more politically and socially restrained past.  TASS’ prominence as the uniform provider of news slipped with the rise of the sobkor (short for sobstvennyi korrespondent, the paper’s own correspondent).  Moreover, the way in which news was treated changed.  Not only did news become a much greater part of the newspaper’s contents, but so too did analytical news pieces.

A major figure from this time was Aleksei Adzhubei.  The editor of major newspapers, he was nicknamed the king of the Soviet press (as remembered in his obituary in the Independent).  Credited with many of the shifts seen in the Khrushchev-era press, Adzhubei eventually lost his hugely influential position in Soviet society when Khrushchev himself (who happened also to be his father-in-law) fell from power.  The University Library’s copy of Te desiat’ let (Those ten years), the book by Adzhubei about the Khrushchev era, is at 586:92.d.95.446.  In the years that followed the fall of Khrushchev, the debate about news intensified; the more closed traditions of the past gradually came back.

The front cover of v. 1 of Gazetnyi mir Sovetskogo Soiuza (item 2 in the list to the left).

Among the books Dr Huxtable mentioned in his talk were: Thomas C. Wolfe’s Governing Soviet journalism : the press and the socialist person after Stalin (705:7.c.200.231), Matthew E. Lenoe’s Closer to the masses Stalinist culture, social revolution, and Soviet newspapers (available electronically to Library readers), N. G. Pal’gunov’s brief 1955 work Osnovy informatsii v gazete : TASS i ego rol’ (The foundations of information in newspapers : TASS and its role; not held in the UK, but available for interlibrary loan request: Worldcat record here).

The University Library provides access to a few Soviet newspapers.  Chief among these are Pravda and Izvestiia, both available electronically to our readers through East View.  Our Soviet newspaper holdings are largely otherwise somewhat patchy, often based on selected issues passed to us as part of a wider donation.  Soviet newspapers are, however, well served in terms of books about them.  The Library of Congress subject headings to use as a start would be: Russian newspapers; Soviet newspapers; Journalism—Soviet Union.  Among the titles I’ve looked at as a result of these searches are:

1. Zhanry sovetskoi gazety (Genres of the Soviet newspaper; Mor.70.47); this1959 publication contains chapters on 10 different genres, including reportage, interviews, and satire.
2. Gazetnyi mir Sovetskogo Soiuza, 1917-1970 gg. (The newspaper world of the Soviet Union; PRL.901:4.5); the first volume of this 1970s set covers central papers, the second covers papers from the regions and republics.  It’s a robust and detailed resource for the researcher, providing a clear picture of the titles in circulation over the period listed; both volumes are also well indexed.  The first volume goes in chronological order and the second is ordered geographically.
3. Gazeta i sovetskoe stroitel’stvo (The newspaper and Soviet building; Ud.8.3442); an interesting if brief compilation from 1957 of pieces by journalists and editors about the role their papers play in terms of the building (both literal and figurative) of the Soviet Union.  Several pieces start with accounts of how boring people assume their subject must be.
4. Leninskaia Pravda : 1912-1962, a pictorial compilation celebrating Pravda’s 50th anniversary (Morison.a.70.6).



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Makeshift modernity : DIY, craft and the virtuous homemaker in new Soviet housing of the 1960s

Floor plans for one-room flats in a 1965 block in Minsk. From Sovetskaia arkhitektura shestidesiatykh godov (page 52; CCB.54.189)

The second CamCREES seminar of the term saw Professor Susan Reid of Sheffield University talk about the Soviet building boom of the Khrushchev era and therole of personal improvisation by residents. Using real-life examples, Professor Reid explored the complex relationship between the state programme and the craft employed by inhabitants through choice or necessity.

The late 1950s and 1960s saw millions of Soviet citizens move into new housing. Construction was undertaken on a huge scale made possible by partial pre-fabrication. Visitors to the former Soviet Union will doubtless have seen panelled khrushchevki, the nickname for the blocks of flats introduced under Khrushev. Pre-made concrete panels allowed the houses to rise quickly but, as Professor Reid explained, true modern efficiency was not always achieved. Interviews conducted through the speaker’s ‘Everyday aesthetics in the modern Soviet flat’ research project in the 2000s with Soviet novosely (inhabitants of new-builds) showed that the official building work itself frequently depended on the practical input of future residents themselves, and that internal work was often unfinished, with residents left to complete installation themselves. Nevertheless, the interviewees almost all recalled the genuine excitement with which they took possession; for most, they were moving into their own flat for the first time.

A 1964 apartment block in Moscow, with the pre-made panels clearly visible. From Sovetskaia arkhitektura shestidesiatykh godov (page 41; CCB.54.189). The block is higher than the typical 5-storey khrushchevka.

The DIY and craft skills which residents often had to show were not used solely for completing unfinished work. They also allowed the novosely to personalise their new living space, able to mimic more cheaply or move away entirely from the mass-produced finishings on sale at the time. Professor Reid showed a large number of photos taken of home improvements, from homemade furniture to hand-stencilled wallpaper. She told of several more extreme examples of enhancement, the most remarkable of which was the decision one couple made to dig out a cellar for their ground-floor flat.

The talk was based on Professor Reid’s 2014 article of the same name, which is, thanks to Open Access, available online here. The talk made reference to books and articles such as Zhilye doma s nesushchimi stenami (Houses with non-bearing walls; here’s its WorldCat record), Ina Merkel’s ‘Alternative rationalities, strange dreams, absurd utopias’ in the 2008 edited volume Socialist modern : East German everyday culture and politics (571:78.c.200.207), Alexei Yurchak’s Everything was forever, until it was no more (586:92.c.200.265; the Library has also got a copy of the significantly expanded and re-written Russian version at C209.c.2126), and Ekaterina Gerasimova and Sof’ia Chuikina’s 2004 ‘Obshchestvo remonta’ article (Society of refurbishment; available online here).

The front cover of Sovremennaia mebel’ — svoimi rukami (CCC.54.262)

All illustrations on the page are from books in the peerless Catherine Cooke Collection of Soviet architecture and design, which has featured often in previous Slavonic blogposts. The first two pictures are from the book Sovetskaia arkhitektura shestidesiatykh godov (Soviet architecture of the 1960s; CCB.54.189), showing floor plans and an example of a block of flats formed in part by pre-fab blocks. The last image is from the book which was in my mind for much of the seminar. Sovremennaia mebel’ – svoimi rukami (Modern furniture made with one’s own hands; CCC.54.262) is a much later publication, from 1980, and is in fact a translation from German (G.B. Weber’s Moderne Möbel leicht gebaut, first published in 1973). Nevertheless it is hard to forget; its front cover shows a jolly man with a moustache and pipe eyeing up a piece of wood in front of his rather less enthusiastic son. The book provides detailed design plans and instructions for the creation of a wide range of domestic furniture, including the most extraordinary armchair. It not only reclines but also includes within its structure a radio, record player, bar, and library.


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Listening out : Cold War radio and the Soviet audience + A colourful past

Novgorodsev's autobiography covering his pre-emigration years (C203.d.5258)

This post combines the bibliographical notes for 2015’s first CamCREES seminar - Dr Kristin Roth-Ey’s talk on non-Soviet radio (and particularly Seva Novgorodsev’s BBC programmes) broadcast into the USSR - with January’s Slavonic item of the month, Namedni, illustrated guides to international and domestic developments, in various fields, particularly significant to the 1946-2010 Soviet/Russian population.

This term, the CamCREES seminars are linked by the theme of Russian and Soviet mass culture.  In the first seminar of 2015, Dr Roth-Ey of UCL SSEES spoke about Soviet audiences of targeted non-Soviet radio programmes.  Listening to such broadcasts was not straightforward – frequencies were sometimes officially jammed, for example (examples of jamming noises were played from, and coverage was unreliable.

Of the many stations and programmes which broadcast into the Soviet Union, Dr Roth-Ey focused in particular on the BBC shows of the Russian émigré Seva Novgorodsev (his preferred spelling, which I use throughout this post; more standard transliteration from the Russian would be Novgorodtsev).  These are known mainly by the name Rok-posevy, one of various titles of his broadcast over the years.  While national stations played “approved" music, Novgorodsev introduced his vast audiences to all kinds of groups from the West.  Another major part of the appeal of Rok-posevy was the presenter himself.  Soviet presenters were trained to be uniform in their calm and contained diction; Novgorodsev capitalised on being able to convey his personality.  His was a much more personal connection with his audience, and he standardly read fan mail received from the USSR out on air and played requests.

He received thousands upon thousands of letters from fans, but reportedly estimated that this represented only a fraction of the whole.  Many correspondents, having guessed that their earlier letters had not made it out of the country, took to noting in their correspondence what number “attempt” the letter in hand was.  Dr Roth-Ey talked about the strange three-way interaction which existed between Novgorodsev, his audience, and the Soviet authorities (represented in postal censorship or radio jamming).

A vast quantity of the letters Novgorodsev received are now held by the Hoover Institution Archives, although sadly many years are unrepresented, through loss of the letters.  No letters are available online, but an inventory of the collection is linked to here.  In the University Library, we have two books by Novgorodsev, both in Russian.  The first book is Ostorozhno, liudi! (Look out, people!, C201.d.2495), the initial volume of his “chronicle of morals” made up of anecdotes and reflections; a second volume is currently on order.  The other book by Novgorodsev currently held is his 2011 autobiography, Integral pokhozh na saksofon (An integral resembling a saxophone; C203.d.5258), which covers his life before emigration, including his career as a saxophionist.

Dr Roth-Ey’s 2011 book Moscow prime time : how the Soviet Union built the media empire that lost the cultural Cold War, in which she explores Soviet policy on mass media,  stands in the Library’s collections at C209.c.1593.

Novgorodsev has a couple of links to the January item of the month.  He appeared in a 1991 edition of the television programme Namedni (Recently); a recording of it is, at the time of writing, available hereNamedni ran on and off during the 1990s and 2000s, and its focus changed in that time.  In the early days, when Novgorodsev was interviewed in his BBC studio, Namedni looked at events and news from the previous few days.  Later, it was given the subtitle “our era” and took on a more historical bent, with each programme devoted to significant international and domestic moments in a given period of post-WWII history; it eventually covered the years 1961 to 2003.  Since the last broadcast in 2003, its presenter through both manifestations, the journalist Leonid Parfenov, has produced books of Namedni, expanding on the programmes not only in terms of the period covered (to date, this stretches from 1946 to 2010) but also in terms of the number of subjects looked at in each year.

The Library's set of Namedni volumes published to date (covering 1946-2010).

Novgorodsev appears in the 1975 book, in a section called Vrazh’i golosa (Enemy voices).  His appearance in this year, two years before his BBC career actually started, is explained by the fact that the section follows on in subject from the previous one, which looked at the Helsinki Accords signed by Brezhnev, among others, that year.  The Enemy voices section starts by saying that the agreement included commitments to freer access to information and saw a temporary cessation in the jamming of radio frequencies in Soviet cities (smaller towns and the countryside were never the target).  The main body of the section talks about the influence of Western radio programmes and the BBC in particular.  The BBC's Anatolii Maksimovich Gold’berg attracted the political listener, Parfenov writes, while Seva Novgorodsev attracted the apolitical.

The Namedni books follow a very set pattern, as the picture above of the set in the University Library shows.  The standard image of Parfenov being broadcast on a television set appropriate to the period (the 2005-2010 set is instead a tablet computer) is a nod to the format of the television programme, which saw Parfenov slotted into historical footage.  The books essentially provide a largely colour-illustrated chronological list of the events and developments which made an impression on the Soviet people, from international events to domestic products.  If we take the list for 1975, for example, we can see an extraordinary range of subjects.  Among these are: the launch of the Russian-langauge gameshow “What? Where? When?”, war in Laos and Cambodia, the Soiuz-Apollo mission, the rise of the singer Alla Pugacheva, the OPEC siege in Vienna, Sakharov’s Nobel prize, and the electric samovar.

Due to the books’ size and heavily illustrated content, they have all been put in the S950 class and must therefore be consulted only in the Library’s West Room.  Here is a list of their entries in the catalogue.


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‘Rivers of Blood’ : illustrating violence and virtue in Russia’s early modern empire

The Kazan slaughter, in v. 21 of the Litsevoi letopisnyi svod (F200.a.14.21)

The latest CamCREES seminar saw Professor Kivelson of the University of Michigan discuss depictions of just and unjust violence in early illustrated histories of Muscovite Russia. The bibliographical notes go on to look at the 40-volume Litsevoi letopisnyi svod chronicle, one of the University Library’s most significant Slavonic purchases (in facsimile reprint) of recent years.

The first three of the four CamCREES seminars this term have seen a march back in time. From the Soviet films of the first seminar we moved to the 18th century in the second, and Professor Kivelson took us all the way back to 16th-century Muscovy and its eastward expansion in the most recent talk. Russian writers from the period, she explained, didn’t pursue the kinds of moral consideration about conquest that can be seen in the work of western writers such as Hobbes and Locke. Some of this gap, though, might be filled to some degree by close examination of visual depictions of imperial expansion.

The talk looked at just and unjust violence, with particular focus on representations of the 1552 taking of Kazan and the conquest of Siberia by the Cossack Ermak later that century, both extremely bloody campaigns. As the examples we were shown proved, though, equally bloody carnage is not equally bad – while some violence is clearly shown as abhorrent, some is equally clearly shown as acceptable. Professor Kivelson discussed, for example, an illustration of the slaughter of men and women in Kazan. This is the first illustration on the page (more on its source below). The murder by soldiers of unarmed citizens, a child amongst them, is described in the text as being committed ‘mercilessly’, with ‘rivers of blood’ flowing. This violence, though, is just. The top of the pictures shows Ivan the Terrible looking on in approval – the order for the bloodshed came from the holy tsar.

Professor Kivelson focused on two particular sources in her talk. The first is the Litsevoi letopisnyi svod (which she translated as ‘The illustrated historical chronicle’), the source of the Kazan slaughter image. This 16th-century manuscript, created at the court of Ivan the Terrible, consists of thousands and thousands of pages which include over 16,000 illustrations, most in colour (as in the second illustration) but some left uncoloured (as in the first). The pages were eventually bound in the 19th century but the volumes were separated in three different libraries – and the sections ran in non-linear order, to boot, so a researcher hoping to look at Russian history from 1500 to 1567 (the last year covered) would have had to consult 3 different volumes in 2 different libraries. A few years ago, however, the Svod was made much more easily accessible through the publication of a facsimile reprint of the entire manuscript by the publishing house Akteon. The reprint put the manuscript back in chronological order, and each page’s reproduction is accompanied by a typed transliteration of the old Russian original text and also a translation into modern Russian.

An example of the coloured illustrations in the Svod. This panel shows a solar portent seen in 1470, from v. 15 (F200.a.14.15)

The University Library is the only library in the UK, according to COPAC, to have the full set – a grand total of 40 volumes. The Svod is made up of three parts. The main part, and that focused on in the talk, is the Russkaia letopisnaia istoriia (Russian historical chronicle; F200.a.14.1-24). This part contains 24 volumes. The other two are Bibleiskaia istoriia (Biblical history; 5 volumes; F201.a.14.1-5) and Vsemirnaia istoriia (World history (covering Greece, Rome, and Byzantium); 11 volumes; F201.a.14.6-16). Each part’s final volume contains editorial matter, including detailed indexes specific to each source volume.

The other source examined by Professor Kivelson is a chronicle of Ermak’s advance into Siberia created in around 1700 by the cartographer, architect, and historian Semen Remezov and his family. It’s a difficult source to track down, in part because its name varies. The 19th-century edition was called the Kratkaia sibirskaia letopis’ (Kungurskaia) (The short (Kungur) Siberian chronicle), for example, but a 21st-century facsimile reprint called it the Remezovskaia letopis’ (The Remezov chronicle). The University Library lacks these two editions and there is no listing for the work under Remezov’s name in the author index, but there ARE versions to be found. The 1975 Hakluyt Society’s Yermak's campaign in Siberia : a selection of documents (694:01.c.4.146) contains a complete reproduction of the chronicle, although the images are of a rather small size, accompanied by an English translation. The introduction to the chronicle in that book mentions the 1907 publication Sibirskie letopisi (Siberian chronicles; 621:2.b.90.2). This contains the texts (but sadly not the illustrations) of various sources, the Remezov chronicle among them.

At the time of writing, the University Library has six books written or edited by Professor Kivelson. A list can be seen here. Her most recent book, Desperate magic : the moral economy of witchcraft in seventeenth-century Russia, came out in 2013. A copy for the Library was expected to arrive through legal deposit (Cornell University Press is one of several non-UK publishers who standardly supply legal deposit copies) but the standard year within which a claim can be made has elapsed with no sign of the book, so our English colleagues will be purchasing a copy (likely an electronic copy) shortly. Professor Kivelson made reference to the work done by Nancy Shields Kollmann on representations of punishment in Russian history. Professor Kollmann’s 2012 book Crime and punishment in early modern Russia is in the Library’s North Front at 586:4.c.201.4.


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The persistence of the eighteenth century in the Russian cultural imagination - Luba Golburt

The first lines of Rossiiada by Mikhail Kheraskov (7756.c.1)

The second 2014/15 CamCREES seminar saw Professor Luba Golburt of UC Berkeley speak about the paradox of the obscurity and tenacity of the 18th century in the Russian cultural and historical imagination. These notes go on to look at her question of the Russian 18th century’s true length, in terms of classification and subject headings.

Russian literature's "Golden Age" was the 19th century, exemplified by Pushkin, the poet described to this day in Russia as nashe vse (our everything). Professor Golburt’s absorbing talk looked at the way in which the epoch which preceded it, the 18th century, both fell into undeserved obscurity and yet also cast an enduring shadow long after it ended. The talk was based on Professor Golburt's recently published book, The first epoch : the eighteenth century and the Russian cultural imagination (the University Library's copy is electronic and can be accessed by Library readers from this LibrarySearch record).

Professor Golburt talked about the Russian 18th century's mixture of feudalism and enlightenment and the various literary styles and figures the century saw. If Pushkin was the start of Russian literature, then where did that leave the 18th century? As she demonstrated, many later writers treated it as foreign country, and she talked about the many ways in which the 18th century was manifested in 19th-century literature from the Golden Age to the century's end and the work of writers such as Turgenev.

Professor Golburt started her talk, though, by a consideration of what exactly the span of the 18th century was in Russia if we looked at the historical context more broadly than strict dates. The Russian century was bookended by the reigns of two of the most significant figures in Russian history. As the century began, Peter the Great was already in power. Several relatively short reigns followed his death in 1725, before the rise to the throne of Catherine the Great in 1762. She would rule for 34 years until her death in 1796. If the Russian 18th century started with Peter the Great, did it end in 1796 with the death of Catherine the Great? Or was it longer? As Professor Golburt explained, one could argue if one wished that Russia's 18th century really ended later in the 19th century - maybe with the defeat of Napoleon's Russian campaign, for example, maybe even with the true end of the epoch's feudalism in 1861's emancipation of the serfs.

How is the Russian 18th century dealt with in the bibliographic catalogue? The University Library, as many Anglophone libraries, uses Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) in its catalogue records. Subject headings are particularly important in a collection such as ours. Over half our books are housed in closed-access storage (the subject of a recent blog post), which means that the reader must rely on subject headings to achieve the browsability afforded by the open shelf. Books which are on the open shelf, however, are subject to the Library's rather idiosyncratic scheme, so the physical browsability of the actual books can usefully by supplemented by our records' subject headings, even if the objectivity of controlled taxonomies is at the mercy of the cataloguer's inevitable subjectivity.

Russian literature is dealt with by LCSH and our local classification scheme relatively simply and similarly. The list below shows LCSH in bold followed by headings in our classification scheme.

  Russian literature  --  To 1700          ≈    [see below]
  Russian literature  --  18th century   ≈    Russian poetry [etc *]   --           Early, to 1800
  Russian literature  --  19th century   ≈    Russian poetry [etc]     --           1801-1900
  Russian literature  --  20th century   ≈    Russian poetry [etc]     --           1901-1991
  Russian literature  --  21st century   ≈    Russian poetry [etc]     --           1992-

  *[except Russian drama, which starts with "Early, to 1900"]

Title page of volume 1 of Iakov Kniazhnin’s Sobranie sochinenii (S756.c.748.1-2)

The major difference is that, while the LCSH system includes the general term "Russian literature" as well as specific genres such as "Russian poetry", the Library's classification scheme concentrates on genres. Books on cross-genre Russian literature would likely be placed in 756:13 (History of literature), 756:14 (Special periods), or 756:16 (Special topics and aspects).

While 18th-century Russian literature, then, is easily labelled in these schemes, the Russian 18th century is not so quite so simply handled in terms of its history. LCSH allow for multiple cuts at the cake. You can apply both the standard Russia--History--18th century heading as well as a multitude of more specific headings relating to rulers (eg Russia--History--Peter I, 1689-1725) or events (eg Russia--History--Rebellion of Pugachev, 1773-1775). There is also one heading provided for a wider period than just the 18th century alone, but Russia--History--1613-1917 is specifically designed for material covering the whole >400-year period of the House of Romanov.

A book can, and usually should, have multiple subject headings in its record. In the University Library, though, where we keep only one copy of a book, it can have only one classmark. The classification scheme for Russian history is quite interesting (and controversial in its treatment of many modern countries as Russian localities; interested readers can find it within this page). It too gives an overarching House of Romanov category (586:4), but gives rather strange and uneven treatment to the period and figures within it. The 18th century is covered by just two classmarks. 586:5 is "1689-1725 : Peter the Great", and 586:6 is "1762-1796 : Catherine the Great. 18th century". Those who determined the classification scheme clearly saw the century as ending with Catherine; the next classmark, 586:7, is "1796-1914 : 19th century in general". No long 18th century for Russia in the University Library...

This piece is illustrated with pictures from some of the Library's very few Russian literary editions actually published in the 18th century; we standardly hold later editions of works by authors from this period. The first illustration comes from our 12-volume set of works by Mikhail Kheraskov (1733-1807), showing the first page in volume 1 of his epic poem Rossiada. The set, which was published from 1796 to 1803 is at 7756.c.1-12. The second shows the title of page of volume 1 of a 1787 Sobranie sochinenii (Set of works (4 volumes in 2); S756.c.78.1-2) by Iakov Kniazhnin (1742-1791).


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Modeling Moscow : life, architecture, and the composite shot in Soviet films of the 1930s – Anne Nesbet

Frame diagram of the Lenin statue to stand at the top of the Palace of the Soviets (Atarov, Dvorets Sovetov; CCC.54.383).

The 2014/15 set of CamCREES seminars started on 14 October with a fascinating talk by Professor Nesbet, in which she demonstrated that close readings of the “complicated composite shots” some 1930s Soviet films contained of Moscow’s architectural future could tell us “not only about the techniques used to construct such visions of the future, but also about cinema’s relationship to architectural history and architecture’s reciprocal interest in animation” (text taken from the talk’s abstract). Professor Nesbet works in the Department of Film & Media at UC Berkeley. Her 2007 book Savage junctures : Sergei Eisenstein and the shape of thinking is in the University Library’s South Front (415:3.c.200.1917).

Professor Nesbet started the seminar by talking about the plans of Sergei Eizenshtein (normally anglicised as Eisenstein) in the 1930s to make a film about Moscow, which met with criticism because his vision focused too much on Moscow’s past and too little on its Soviet present and future. The film was never made. Professor Nesbet showed an article which appeared in Literaturnaia gazeta (Literary paper) at the time, telling Eizenshtein to re-focus and illustrated by a montage picture of new Moscow architectural landmarks.

She went on to talk us through particular sections of two films. The first was Kosmicheskii reis (Cosmic voyage, 1935) directed by Vasilii Zhuravlev. The film is set in 1946 and opens with a sweeping view of the All-Union Institute of Interplanetary Communications on the outskirts of a futuristic Moscow, with the enormous Palace of the Soviets in the background. The film (which can be found here) is full of visual treats, many based on intricate models, from the scene in which its young hero is shown the two rockets built in preparation for space exploration, to a wonderful section set on the moon.

The second film was Aleksandr Medvedkin’s Novaia Moskva (New Moscow, 1938). Now widely available online (here, for example), the film was never originally released. It contains a fascinating mixture of old and new. As Professor Nesbet pointed out, the film’s scenery was accomplished by a fittingly disparate pair: Dmitrii Bulgakov, a young Moscow architect, and Andrei Nikulin, a landscape painter from the provinces a generation older than Bulgakov.

Its opening scene shows a “living model of Moscow” made by characters working on a new building project. Surrounded by what is still rural wilderness and plagued by mosquitos, they have created an animated model which shows the removal of old structures and the construction of new, modern buildings. Later, the film’s young heroes show a film along the same lines, a montage showing old Moscow replaced by the new and futuristic (although an initial malfunction sees the film play backwards, to the heroes’ horror).

The two topics of Professor Nesbet’s talk (film and architecture) are particularly richly covered in the University Library’s collections. Thanks to donations made in recent years, the Library has an incredible Soviet architecture collection (the Catherine Cooke collection) as well as very strong cinema holdings thanks in particular to the Schobert and Glynne Parker collections currently being catalogued.

Montage plan for Kominternovsk (Sovremennaia arkhitekura, 3/1930; CCA.54.1045)

The Cooke collection contains endless examples to look at in the context of this CamCREES seminar. Among its holdings, for example, is the 1930 Sovremennaia arkhitektura (Modern architecture; CCA.54.1045) number which Professor Nesbet used to show us an example of montage used in architectural plans. The picture (the middle illustration here) shows the communal houses in G. Vegman and M. Latyshev’s project for the town of Kominternovsk. The montage is hard to see in detail on this page, but it contains overlapping images of various plans and views of the building as well as photos (including a man with a discus!).

Both films Professor Nesbet talked about contained shots of the Palace of the Soviets (Dvorets Sovetov), and it is impossible not to take the opportunity that gives us to look at related Cooke material. The Palace of the Soviets was to be the capital building of the Soviet Union and the greatest building in the world. The vast Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was demolished in Moscow to make way for it, but the Second World War saw the metal used to start construction removed for the war effort, and appetite for the project waned post-war. The space cleared for the building was eventually re-used to create the world’s largest outdoor swimming pool. In post-Soviet times, the space was cleared again, and the cathedral destroyed for the Palace has now been reconstructed there.

Silhouettes of Moscow skyscrapers with the Palace of the Soviets in the background (Vysotnye zdaniia v Moskve : proekty; CCA.54.5)

The first and third illustrations on this page are from two of the many items in the Cooke collection which relate to the Palace. One of the two items is an incredible portfolio set dedicated to the Moscow skyscrapers known commonly in English as the Seven Sisters. There were originally in fact meant tp be 8 of these great buildings, but the last was never completed. Vysotnye zdaniia v Moskve : proekty (High-rise buildings in Moscow : projects; CCA.54.5) contains a portfolio dedicated to each building, made up of plans, views and mock-ups. The image used here, though, comes from the set’s introductory volume, which talks in part about the construction which would dwarf these buildings – the Palace of the Soviets. The picture shows the silhouettes of the eight with the vast Palace a ghostly shape in the background, topped by an enormous statue of Lenin (at one point, this statue was designed to make up a quarter of the Palace’s total height).

The Lenin statue is the subject of the illustration at the start of this post, which shows a diagram of its internal frame. This is taken from Nikolai Atarov’s 1940 book Dvorets Sovetov (Palace of the Soviets; CCC.54.383). The immense aspirations which made the Palace such an enduring idée fixe can be understood from just a glance at the book’s contents – the first two chapters, for example, are called ‘A monument to Lenin’ and ‘For thousands of years.’ The book contains four parts. The first covers the background of the Palace, including the architectural competitions its final design (by Boris Iofan) came from, the second covers major structural works, and the third looks at the Palace’s internal layout. The fourth considers the Palace in the context of the new Soviet Moscow.

Earlier above, I mentioned the fact that Professor Nesbet discussed an article published in Literaturnaia gazeta. Although we collect this periodical actively now, the University Library does not have a full set, with its fullest holdings starting only from 1967 (NPR.B.995). To look at earlier holdings would require a trip to another library, or at least one to our inter-library loans department. The title, though, has recently been made available as an electronic backfile by East View, through whom we have already bought access to several other backfiles. The Literaturnaia gazeta backfile is clearly a significant desideratum for the Library, but first we must be able to demonstrate that the resources we’ve already purchased are being well used. I strongly urge Russian-reading Library users to explore these backfiles, of which an apt example here is that of the journal Iskusstvo kino (The art of cinema), which is available from its very first issue in 1936.


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Translating Shevchenko's Kobzar – Peter Fedynsky

Front cover of volume 1 of Kobzar (756:33.d.85.13-16).

This set of bibliographical notes is combined with the March Slavonic item of the month - the University Library's earliest set of the Kobzar. This text is repeated on the Slavonic item of the month page, where all previous pieces can also be seen.

The CamCREES seminar series for the Lent term ended on a cultural high, with the journalist and translator Peter Fedynsky talking about his translation of the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko's celebrated Kobzar. 2014 marks the bicentenary of the birth of Shevchenko, the giant of Ukrainian artistic, literary, linguistic, and political culture born to a serf family in 1814. The CamCREES session was supported by Cambridge Ukrainian Studies as part of its Shevchenko 2014 celebrations.

The term Kobzar (the word for a player of the kobza, a traditional Ukrainian instrument) was the title of a collection of eight poems which Shevchenko published in 1840. Over time, the word came to be used as a collective term for Shevchenko's entire poetic output. The poems contained in the comprehensive Kobzar were written over many years, during which Shevchenko's star rose and fell – many of them were written, for example, during his exile. All but two (which are in Russian) are in Ukrainian.

Mr Fedynsky's is the first ever translation of the complete Kobzar into English. His talk gave both an interesting introduction to Shevchenko's life and work (for example, we were shown many of Shevchenko's exquisite artistic works) and a fascinating insight into the practicalities of translation. Translating poetry causes the translator more headaches than normal, given that the form of the original usually plays a bigger part than it does in prose. Mr Fedynsky explained that he had concentrated on getting across what Shevchenko said in his poetry rather than how he said it.

English translations of Shevchenko can be found by searching for Shevchenko, Taras as the author and specifying the language of the resource to be English (through Newton’s advanced search page, for example). Among the hits is Mr Fedynsky's complete Kobzar translation, which stands at C208.c.753 (to be ordered via the Reading Room, but borrowable).

The earliest book by Shevchenko held by the University Library was published long after his death at the age of 47 in 1861. It is a four-volume set of selected works published in L'viv from 1893 to 1898, each volume featuring the beautiful front cover shown in the picture. The set is confusingly called Kobzar’ (the word was written with a soft sign at the time) but its contents correspond neither to the original eight-poem publication nor to the total poetic output. The first two volumes do contain the complete Kobzar, but the final two volumes are made up of other works. Volume 3 actually contains translations of two works Shevchenko wrote in Russian – a diary and an autobiographical tale. Volume 4 contains short stories.

As is unfortunately the case with many old records, the catalogue record for the set was rather woeful.


Shevchenko's name was not in the authorised form (Shevchenko, Taras, 1814-1861), and his patronymic was misspelt to boot. Two versions of the name of the person who wrote the introductory section to volume 1 (the name of which section was also misspelt in the record) were recorded as headings, neither correct. The name of the body which published the book was given as a series title. At least the addition of “[and other works]” let the reader know that there was more than the Kobzar itself to find, even if the form of the addition was certainly not in keeping with current standard cataloguing practices!

Here is the record as it stands now:


It looks a bit overwhelming with all the diacritics, but it should nevertheless be an improvement! All the headings are in their correct form, for example; a contents note lets the reader know what each volume contains; and a note explains that part of the set is translated from Russian (and the translator, the writer Oleksandr Konys'kyi, gets a heading). The catalogue record can be seen in Newton here. The set can be called up to the Rare Books Reading Room.

I'll end with another record which was in sore need of improvement – a 1963 Soviet publication of Shevchenko's diary in Russian (the language he wrote it in). I first noticed the record because the heading for Shevchenko was also not in keeping with the standard authority. Going into the record to update it, though, I saw that there was rather more work to be done:


For a start, the single work of the title featured not one but two typos – Dpevnyk should be Dnevnik! The record also showed many of the typical signs of old, minimal records, with the pagination and publisher missing, for example. I was also curious about the note which said that the book was “With: Avtobiografiia” (autobiography). Fetching the book from NW5 allowed me to update the record to what is also a pretty bare summary, but one which should be much more useful:


The heading is authorised, the title transcribed correctly, the publication and physical details filled in. The Avtobiografiia turned out to be a very slim section at the end of the diary, a section too slight to be mentioned in the catalogue. It is then followed by nearly 50 pages of editorial notes, largely on the people Shevchenko mentions in his diary, but there is no mention of the notes’ author. The colophon does give the name of an editor (K.A. Sribnaia), but the layout suggests that she was the publisher's copy editor rather than the proactive compiler-editor, so there is no entry for her or anyone else beyond Shevchenko. The diary is at 756:34.c.95.48.

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Dovzhenko/Manchevski : silence, speech, and the gaze - Elena Tchougounova-Paulson, Tanya Zaharchenko, Gruia Badescu

The Lent term's third set of CamCREES notes cover the 18 February seminar at which three researchers, including two PhD students, discussed the renowned filmmakers Oleksandr Dovzhenko and Milcho Manchevski. Using the example of the recently published Dovzhenko diaries discussed at the session, the notes also look at open-access and closed-access classification in the University Library.

The third CamCREES session of the term started with a talk by Dr Elena Tchougounova-Paulson about her work on the papers of the great Soviet-era director, producer, and screenwriter Oleksandr Dovzhenko (Aleksandr in Russian). His archive is collection 2081 in RGALI, the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art, where Dr Tchougounova-Paulson was a researcher. Descriptions of the Dovzhenko collection, whose contents number over 2,500 items, can be read (in Russian) starting from the collection's front page here on RGALI's website.

Dovzhenko was born in Ukraine and produced films in both the Ukrainian and Russian languages. One of the challenges of working with his papers, Dr Tchougounova-Paulson explained, was dealing with the language he wrote in - a rich and idiosyncratic mixture of Ukrainian and Russian. This was a particular test for her since part of her task was to translate his diary entries into Russian! Dr Tchougounova-Paulson's work contributed to the 2013 publication of his diaries, a vast 877-page volume produced in Kharkiv. More about this book further down.

The second half of the session saw two Cambridge PhD students, Tanya Zaharchenko of the Department of Slavonic Studies and its Memory At War programme, and Gruia Badescu of the Department of Architecture, talk about the 1994 film Before the rain by the Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski. Gruia and Tanya were the first ever recipients of a CamCREES postgraduate interdisciplinary seed grant programme launched in Michaelmas 2013. The grant allowed them to invite the director to Cambridge for a discussion of “film and the lines between truth and fiction, self and the other” (excerpt from the talk’s publicity). This exciting session took place on 2 December 2013 in Robinson College, and was preceded by screenings of Before the rain and also Manchevski’s latest film, Mothers. Before the rain (Pred dozdot in Macedonian) is set in Macedonia and London and is full of food for thought, from its visual impact as a result of careful use of colour to the director’s deliberate play with the sequence of events shown in the film.

One of the conditions of the grant was that the postgraduates then came to talk to CamCREES about what they did, and how it and the interdisciplinary teamwork involved had helped them in their own research. In their update, Tanya and Gruia gave fascinating views of Before the rain, drawing on their own academic fields: Tanya talking about memory, and Gruia about place and space. It was exciting to see how much the opportunity for them to work together and to discuss the film with its director had enriched their reading of the film.

I’ll end by returning to the Dovzhenko diaries (Dnevnikovye zapisi, 1939-1956). The volume is in the University Library’s collections (catalogue record here). As the record shows, it is in a closed classmark (C208.c.592) which means that it is borrowable but must be ordered through the main Reading Room. So why isn’t it on the open shelf?

Assigning a classmark can be a tricky business in the University Library. For cataloguers, the first decision in classification is whether to place a book on the open shelf or to put it in a closed classmark. Several criteria are at play in this decision. The book should be academic and not of too narrow an interest (both in terms of its subject matter and also in terms of its language; a book in Russian on a non-Slavic subject might well be worth its place in the Library but not warrant a place on the open shelf if most browsing readers in that section would not be able to read it). There are also physical issues – paperbacks can’t be put into an open-shelf classmark unless they are bound by the Library’s Bindery; heavily illustrated books are also rarely made borrowable; and size and paper quality also play a role in the decision-making process. Finally, the practical issues of the classification system itself and space in our near-full building also need to be taken into account.

The Dovzhenko diaries are academic (the entries are accompanied by extensive commentaries and bibliographical references) and they are not of too narrow an interest (Dovzhenko is a major figure, and those interested in his work are quite likely to have some knowledge of Ukrainian and/or Russian). The volume is already bound. So far, so good. My decision to place the book in a closed classmark nevertheless was based on three things. One of these was physical – its paper is slightly fragile, so removing it from the likelihood of greater handling (through open-shelf browsing) was important. The other two issues are interconnected. The classification system leaves rather a lot to be desired for the performing arts. All books on cinema, regardless of the aspect, era, or country covered, go into one classmark (415:3), which detracts from the usefulness of the ability to browse that the open shelf brings. Coupled with this is the fact that, despite our Collection Management team’s endless good efforts, space is of a particular concern on the floor (SF6) where this class is held.

The increasing use of closed-access classmarks for new material makes the need for reliable catalogue records greater than ever. If a book can’t be found in the catalogue, we may as well not have it at all.

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“Anthropology in the Russian language” - Tatiana Safonova, Istvan Santha, Mette High, Olga Ulturgasheva

The second CamCREES seminar this term saw four anthropologists, three based in Cambridge and one in St Andrews, talk about their experience of being published in different languages and countries. It gave a fascinating insight not only into linguistic practicalities but also into something rather deeper: the different worlds that anthropology inhabits in different places.

Tatiana Safonova and Istvan Santha, Cambridge anthropologists from Russia and Hungary respectively, told the story of the book they wrote about the Evenki people who live in the region of the great Siberian Lake Baikal. It was first drafted by Tania in English, but the opportunity to publish it first came up in Hungary, so Istvan translated it and it was published first there. A UK publisher then took an interest, but Tania's English version was re-worked by a native speaker (the Haddon Library holds a copy; record here). Finally, a Russian publisher also took interest, and Tania produced a version in Russian. Among the examples Tania and Istvan gave of the differences in terms of approaches in anthropology in different countries, a simple one was the way in which the identity of the human subjects of their research was treated. While it is absolutely standard in the west to anonymise subjects by giving them false names, the Russian approach is that you MUST use real names in order to make your research real!

Mette High of the University of St Andrews spoke about the process and consequences of turning her Cambridge PhD on illegal gold-mining in Mongolia into a published book in that country. Since her PhD audience and her Mongolian audience would bring such different backgrounds to the reading of her book, Mette spent a year re-writing her dissertation to make it a book suitable to be translated for and read by Mongolian anthropology academics and students. Among the decisions she had to make was whether or not to keep subjects that are taboo topics there, such as the existence of domestic abuse, in the book. In the end, she did keep them in, since their removal would undermine the point of her work, but did edit heavily. A physical print run of 500 has been followed recently by the appearance of the book online through open access. There have been 280 downloads in the first two months alone – and the readership has also shifted; whereas the physical books have gone into academia, many of the downloads have been tracked to the private sector of gold-mining companies.

Finally, Olga Ulturgasheva of Cambridge's Scott Polar Research Institute spoke about the experience she and a colleague had of trying to initiate the production of a special issue of a Siberian journal. Their idea had been to arrange a bilingual special issue dedicated to the GULag, but it met with vehement resistance, not only from potential authors (a call for articles in Russia and the west had seen responses only from academics based in the latter) but also from the editorial board. To the surprise and dismay of Olga (who comes from Siberia) and her colleague (based in Cambridge but also Russian), they were told that they were colonialists and the ["real"!] Russians were colonised aboriginals… Moreover, the editorial board rejected the idea of the special issue being available as open access or, even, online at all. The idea of the special issue eventually had to be dropped, but Olga had the good news that it had been instead picked up by a publisher in western Russia and will be brought out as a book in autumn 2014.

The panel discussion led to very lively questions from the audience, and the session as a whole left me with a great deal of food for thought. While the subject of the publications under discussion was anthropology, the issues which came up could presumably also be issues in other schools such as history and philology. I'll talk a little about two issues in particular.

Firstly, the panellists were very clear about the differences publishing in another country and language could bring to the content of one's work. If money and space were no option, then, it might make some sense to buy different versions of a book, so that the reader could see these differences, potentially of great interest in and of themselves. Even for the University Library, though, both money and space are issues. We have to take the most pragmatic decision, and would rarely buy a translation unless it were either [a] translated into English or [b] translated from a language unlikely to be read here (eg a language not taught in the University) into a language more likely to be read (eg German or French).

Secondly, there seemed to be consensus that academic publishing outside Moscow and St Petersburg was often disregarded in academia. Should that mean that libraries such as the UL shouldn't collect books from regional presses? I feel not. Many suppliers of Russian-language material have started in recent years to try to represent the regions more strongly in their lists. While the initial emphasis of budgets would be books from the major publishers in the current and former capitals, and while we could never claim to take a completest approach to regional (or central) publications, I think it important that regional presses are represented in our collections. Among our most recent orders, for example, is a dozen or so books from the Caucasus, published by local academic presses and covering subjects such as local history and the Chechen language.

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A Poet and Bin Laden, or Islamic militancy in Central Asia and Afghanistan” – Hamid Ismailov

The title page and cover of the Russian original (kindly donated by Mr Ismailov) and the English translation

The first CamCREES seminar of 2014 saw the return of a very popular speaker, Hamid Ismailov, the Uzbek poet and novelist. Mr Ismailov had previously come to speak in 2011 on Soviet novels and Soviet reality, which included discussion of his own novel Zheleznaia doroga (9008.c.7320; the 2007 English translation (as The railway) is at C202.c.5616).

The 2014 seminar revolved around another work by Mr Ismailov which has recently been published in translation. The Russian original was published in the UK in 2005, as Doroga k smerti bol’she, chem smert’ (The road to death is greater than death, C202.d.3553). The novel tells the story of Belgi, an Uzbek poet who is radicalised by the Uzbek government crackdown in response to the 1999 bombings, and who ends up meeting Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan (the title of the translation is A poet and Bin-Laden).

While the main character is fictitious, Mr Ismailov explained that Belgi is in many ways based on himself, with much of the novel drawing heavily on facts and on the turns he understands that his own life could have taken. The English translation's subtitle (a reality novel) reflects this. In fact, the novel is so persuasively realistic, that it was misunderstood by some on its publication to be a factual document rather than fiction. It even fooled librarians – most records for the original and translation include a Library of Congress subject heading for Belgi, 1961- -- Fiction, as though it's fiction about a factual figure. The heading is based on an authority created for Belgi (on that same misunderstood basis) – here’s a screenshot of it. Cambridge also fell under the collective spell, until we were put right by the author and removed the subject heading!

The translation is not yet in the University Library catalogue, but will be added before long, once our copy has been treated to become borrowable (paperback fiction received under the Legal Deposit Act is not usually borrowable, but an exception is being made!). The record will show the interesting fact that two translators were involved – one for the prose, the other for the poetry the novel contains. It will also show a different author… The original was published under one of Mr Ismailov’s noms de plume, Mir Kaligulaev, and the translation's record must tie together with the original's. A sneak preview of the likely look of the record, from the staff side of the catalogue, is shown below.


Mr Ismailov said that the novel was ultimately about otherness – about how radicalism stems from otherness but is also against other otherness. As explained in other CamCREES bibliographical notes, works of fiction have traditionally rarely been given subject headings, except in certain cases such as fiction about a certain war or a certain historical figure (hence the inclusion of the Belgi subject heading when he was thought to be a real figure). An academic work on otherness, however, would be given the subject heading Other (Philosophy), which can be subdivided geographically. There are also more specific related headings, such as Other (Philosophy) in literature.

Mr Ismailov is a fantastically prolific writer all round. His blog as the BBC World Service Writer in Residence is linked to here, and his Twitter account is here.

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"Tolstoy, Chekhov, and the music of Russian prose" - Dr Rosamund Bartlett

The final CamCREES seminar of the Michaelmas term and the last of the seminars arranged as part of Dr Katia Bowers' CEELBAS-funded project 'Promoting the Study of Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature in the UK' saw an excellent turnout for an extremely interesting talk. Dr Rosamund Bartlett of the University of Oxford spoke about music and the works of Chekhov and Tolstoi, looking at patterns of musical composition in the writings of these authors and drawing links with Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, whose own work has recently started to be considered in musical terms. As Dr Bartlett explained, these new angles of criticism cast Chekhov and Tolstoi, traditionally considered realists, in a more modernist light.

The end of Chekhov's short story Student, showing the enormous 94-word concluding sentence, which Dr Bartlett mentioned in her talk (757:23.d.90.96)

Dr Bartlett included a huge number of references to literary and musical compositions and also to critical works – as great in number as the subject area she covered was in size! An early highlight of the talk was an exploration of the acquaintance and great mutual respect of Chekhov and Chaikovskii (Tchaikovsky). Dr Bartlett showed photos they sent each other in 1889. Chaikovskii wrote on his A.P. Chekhovu ot plammenogo pochitatelia (To A.P. Chekhov from an ardent admirer), while Chekhov wrote on his, which was sent in reply, Petru Il'ichu Chaikovskomu na pamiat' o serdechno predannom i blagodarnom pochitatele Chekhove (To Petr Il'ich Chaikovskii, as a memento of his sincerely devoted and grateful admirer Chekhov).

Hunting down such quotations would until relatively recently have involved a trip to the North Wing of the University Library to look at Chekhov material, and possibly one to the South Front to look in the music section. While the physical holdings of the Library remain of tantamount value to researchers, Dr Bartlett's talk allows a digression from Cambridge libraries to look instead at two very significant online resources which are freely available to any internet user.

The first is specifically related to Tolstoi. The site was set up by the State Tolstoi Museum and the Iasnaia Poliana Museum (Iasnaia Poliana was Tolstoi’s home). An English-language announcement about the site can be read here on the English-language site of RIA Novosti, the press agency which has recently been controversially “reorganised” by the Russian government (RIA Novosti’s piece on news of their own fate is linked to here). The announcement mentions the efforts made by thousands of volunteers from across the country to proofread the 90-volume collected works of Tolstoi which will be the backbone of the site. A slightly more in-depth look at the volunteers' work has featured in the New Yorker and can be read on this page.

The 90-volume set is going online gradually and not all texts have been uploaded at the time of writing, but the site is already a very interesting resource. Among the most striking material already uploaded are hundreds of photos of Tolstoi and dozens of recordings of his voice.

The other resource has been online for over a decade, but deserves constant championing and is the source from which the Chekhov/Chaikovskii quotations given above were found, easily and quickly. The site is introduced in its English-language front page as follows: “‘FEB-web’ is short for The Fundamental Digital Library of Russian Literature and Folklore, a project instituted in 1995 by the Gorky Institute of World Literature and the Informregistr Center at the Russian Ministry for Communications, and online since July 2002”. The introduction goes on to explain that FEB-web is made up of “Digital Scholarly Editions (DSE) … Each DSE combines an exhaustive collection of primary texts with all the essential secondary literature and bibliographical works you need to do research on a given author, genre, or work".

It is a staggering resource which can significantly benefit students and researchers of Russian literature – do take a look.

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"Tolstoy's 'About mushrooms'" - Professor Robin Feuer Miller

The third CamCREES seminar of Michaelmas 2013, once again part of Dr Katia Bowers' CEELBAS-funded project 'Promoting the Study of Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature in the UK', was given by Professor Robin Feuer Miller of Brandeis University and the University of Oxford. Her talk focused on a small section of Tolstoi’s Anna Karenina which involves two relatively minor characters: Varen’ka, a young woman who Kitty (Kiti in Russian) has met at a German spa, and Sergei Ivanovich Koznyshev, the half-brother of Kitty’s husband Levin. The section of the novel focused on in the seminar describes a mushroom hunt undertaken by these two characters in Levin’s estate, during which a proposal of marriage is prepared for but never realised.

Text from the mushroom hunt scene in Tolstoi's Anna Karenina (757:23.d.85.186-188)

Professor Miller’s talk relates to a book she is working on which looks at the “small things” in the works of Tolstoi and Dostoevskii. In her close reading of the mushroom hunt passage, moreover, Professor Miller applied a twist, suggesting that the section be read almost as a stand-alone piece of writing and considered through the critical lens normally applied to the short stories of Chekhov. As she showed, the mushroom hunt tale can, bar one didactic digression, very satisfyingly be read as a piece by Chekhov, with its focus on minutiae, emotional tension, and impending failure. The illustration to this CamCREES note shows a segment of the mushroom hunt, just after the point at which the marriage proposal should have occurred but failed to. The conversation has turned back to mushrooms – "Berezovyi grib" ('A birch mushroom') says Sergei Ivanovich, "Da, eto pravda" (‘Yes, that’s right’) replied Varen’ka.

Professor Miller referred in particular to three works of criticism on Anna Karenina in her talk. These were:

  • Gary Saul Morson’s Anna Karenina in our time : seeing more wisely (757:24.c.200.95);
  • Vladimir E. Alexandrov’s Limits to interpretation : the meanings of Anna Karenina (757:24.c.200.34); and
  • Amy Mandelker’s Framing Anna Karenina : Tolstoy, the woman question, and the Victorian novel (757:24.c.95.506)

Works on and new editions of works by Tolstoi are of course still collected vigorously by the University Library. A search on Newton shows that 18 titles connected to Tolstoi have been catalogued so far in 2013. How was that result reached? When a Library cataloguer has completed a record or substantially added to it (for example by the addition of a new volume to a set or by significantly improving the existing record), they generally add a field which features their Cambridge ID and the day’s date. This field is hidden in the normal view of the record but its contents are included in a keyword search on Newton (not on LibrarySearch). As an example, here is the public view of the recently catalogued 1978 Anna Karenina which came to the Library as part of the Peter Yakimiuk collection – the red highlights the part of the page where the viewer can choose to see the staff record – and here is the staff view, with the field in question highlighted in red. As the latter shows, the date is in the YYYYMMDD format.

The existence and searchability of the field means that including a year followed by a question mark (to allow for variant endings) will come up with results which feature either those four digits alone (most commonly as the date of publication) or any term which starts with those numbers. The search run to find all publications on or about Tolstoi catalogued in 2013 used three terms in an ordinary keyword search – 2013? Tolstoy Leo. We need to use the authorised form of Tolstoi’s name (the anglicised Tolstoy), and the addition of the authorised form of his Christian name (the anglicised Leo) helps guard against the results including others with the same surname (such as Aleksei Nikolaevich Tolstoi, whose authorised form is also anglicised: Tolstoy, Aleksey Konstantinovich, graf, 1817-1875). Do note that 2013 is the current year at the time of writing – were this precise search (using 2013?) to be run in 2014, it would only pick up Tolstoi books catalogued in 2014 which were published in 2013. Without that publication date, the term 2013 would be unlikely to appear anywhere in the record.

The 18 records show the variety of books and workflows in the Library. 7 of the books are in Russian, 6 in English, 3 in Italian, and 2 in French. Eleven of them have been published in the last four years, but the oldest dates back to 1939. Why is such old material being catalogued in 2013? In the case of the 1939 book, this is part of an enormous publication called Literaturnoe nasledstvo (‘Literary heritage’) whose parts are usually catalogued individually. Records for the earlier material in the set were very inconsistent, so recent weeks have seen the whole set be checked and largely recatalogued. The 1961 and 1979 books in the list are also part of this set. Other older books in the list of 18 will relate to donations or similar projects of re-cataloguing. The only ‘false’ result in the list is the 1963 copy of Resurrection. The term 2013 in the record relates neither to date of publication nor to date of cataloguing – it instead appears in the heading for the editor, who died this year.

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"Of men and their demons : masculinity in Dostoevskii's Besy" - Dr Connor Doak

The second CamCREES seminar of Michaelmas 2013, again part of Dr Katia Bowers' CEELBAS-funded project 'Promoting the Study of Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature in the UK', was given by Dr Connor Doak of the University of Bristol. He spoke about masculinity and the characters in Besy (translated into English as 'The devils' or 'The demons' or 'The possessed'), Dostoevskii's novel about young radicals and their parents. Through close reading of selected passages, Dr Doak demonstrated how Besy 'critiques both the sentimental men of the 1840s generation - presented as effete performers who have voluntarily renounced their manliness - and the radical men of the 1860s - presented as hypermasculine in their taste for violence' (quotation from the talk's abstract).

Title page of the 1890 edition of Dostoevskii's Besy (S756.d.89.28; record here)

Dr Doak has kindly given us permission to reproduce the handout he used for the seminar. This featured quotations from three sources: The history of men : essays in the history of American and British masculinities by Michael S. Kimmel (UL: 244:1.c.200.862); the second edition of Masculinities by R.W. Connell (UL: 196:2.c.200.403); and the text of Besy in the Nauka 1972-1990 Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (UL: 757:23.c.95.98-130), in the original and in Dr Doak's translation. The handout can be reached by clicking here.

The Library of Congress subject heading Masculinity is followed by more specific headings including Masculinity in literature. It's a popular subject, with several hundred items listed against it. A keyword search for Russia masculinity literature came up with a surprising result: Putin as celebrity and cultural icon (Routledge, 2013). As the book's catalogue record (here) shows, the keyword search found two of these three terms in the record's content notes. Traditionally, catalogue records have rarely had contents notes although good practice in recent years would see contents listed for multi-volume sets. Increasingly, though, even records for single-volume monographs have started to feature contents notes, as more and more data is made available electronically by publishers and vendors.

Tracking down a copy of Dostoevskii's Besy in the catalogue is not straightforward. For one thing, the authorised form of his name is the anglicised Dostoyevsky (the full form is: Dostoyevsky, Fyodor, 1821-1881) - which is not even the anglicised form in most common usage. Secondly, a search for Besy will bring up many editions of the novel but not necessarily all. When dealing with a major author like Dostoevskii, the Library is likely to have several sets of collected or selected works. The point about contents notes made in the paragraph above is the issue here. Without a contents note, the record for a set gives very little away about what the reader can find in it. In the case of the Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Dr Doak refers to, the record as it stood was very basic, with only the title of the set and a collective title for it (in this case Works) - click here to see a screenshot of the record as was. Now click here to see the record after it's been expanded. The contents note undeniably adds a huge amount of information which is useful and, critically, searchable. A search for the term Besy will now bring up this set too.

One final observation about the spelling variations of Dostoevskii's name. The Library catalogue LibrarySearch+ has recently refocused to become a catalogue purely for electronic material - e-books, full-text articles, and citations. While electronic availability is of course an enormous boon to the researcher, the lack of catalogue control (such as the addition by cataloguers of standard forms of name) in entries for articles means that searches need to be run often many times over to capture all the information out there. Taking the example of Dostoevskii, a search on LibrarySearch+ for three variant forms of his name brought up three very different results: Dostoyevsky - 15,427 hits; Dostoevsky - 26,671; Dostoevskii - 5,315.

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"The Gothic and colonial mimicry in Antony Pogorelsky's Monastyrka" - Dr Valeria Sobol

The majority of the 2012/13 CamCREES seminars combined in the Lent and Easter terms with the Resistance in Russia and Eastern Europe series (details here) and were not covered by the CamCREES bibliographical notes, though purely through lack of time.

Text from a scene in Pogorel'skii's Monastyrka (8756.d.206)

Michaelmas 2013 sees the seminars combined with another initiative yet again, which this time is the CEELBAS-funded project 'Promoting the Study of Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature in the UK' run by Dr Katia Bowers of the Department of Slavonic Studies (more details here). The four Michaelmas 2013 seminars will run under the collective title 'Interdisciplinary Approaches to Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature'.

Dr Valeria Sobol of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, started the series with a very interesting discussion of Antonii Pogorel'skii's Monastyrka. The title refers to Aniuta, the heroine of the story, a graduate of the Russian Empire's first school for women. The Smol'nyi Institute in St Petersburg was also referred to as the Smol'nyi Convent (monastyr'), whose complex it was based in - the Institute's graduates were therefore often called monastyrki. The book tells the story of Aniuta's return from her "civilising" education in Petersburg to her homeland of Malorossiia (most of modern-day Ukraine), which was at that time part of the Russian Empire.

While Russia is usually discussed in terms of east and west, the book Dr Sobol is writing about the Gothic in Russian literature is looking in particular at its northern and southern elements. Monastyrka is an example of the south in Russian Gothic literature, and Dr Sobol talked about the significance of Pogorel'skii's setting of the story in Ukraine. Ukraine was, for the Russians, somewhere which was both familiar and unfamiliar, and therefore an excellent "local" setting within the Empire for a Gothic story. In fact, though, while the story initially emphasises the unsettling foreignness of Malorossiia, as seen in Aniuta's horror at her homecoming and the narrator's problems dealing with vernacular-speaking local officials, the danger in the tale eventually comes from locals who are unnaturally trying to take on a non-local identity. The main villain is Aniuta's guardian, who tries but fails to make his family more Russian/European, hiring a French tutor for his children, for example, who turns out not to speak French and who has taught them instead a nonsense language.

Antonii Pogorel'skii was the nom-de-plume of Aleksei Perovskii. Searching for Perovskii on the catalogue will point you to Pogorel'skii, since that is the name for which there is literary warrant: Pogorel'skii, Antonii, 1787-1836. The University Library's most recent holding for Pogorel'skii is a 2010 publication of selected works and correspondence (record here), its earliest an 1853 two-volume set (record here). The first volume of the latter contains Monastyrka (a partial shot of a page which demonstrates the use of Ukrainian by certain characters is the illustration for this piece). The second is mainly taken up with Dvoinik, ili, Moi vechera v Malorossii ('The double, or, My evenings in Malorossiia'), which is both charmingly and ghoulishly illustrated. Dvoinik is the October 2013 Slavonic item of the month - read more about it here.

Readers are reminded that works OF literature (as opposed to works ON literature) are rarely given Library of Congress subject headings, so Pogorel'skii's own literary work wouldn't have them. Material on Gothic literature, though, are covered by two main headings: Gothic revival (Literature) and Gothic fiction (Literary genre). The first is accompanied by the following scope note:

Here are entered works on the literary movement that spawned the genre known as Gothic fiction. Works on the genre itself, which combines elements of both horror and romance, featuring psychological and physical terror, the supernatural, castles or monasteries, ghosts, darkness, gloom and doom, etc., usually in a medieval setting, are entered under Gothic fiction (Literary genre).

Gothic fiction (Literary genre)'s scope note reads:

Here are entered works on the genre of fiction that combines elements of both horror and romance, featuring psychological and physical terror, the supernatural, castles or monasteries, ghosts, darkness, gloom and doom, etc., usually in a medieval setting. Works on the literary movement that spawned this genre are entered under Gothic revival (Literature). Works on literature written in the Gothic language are entered under Gothic literature.

Readers would be advised to look under both headings. Each can be further subdivided. Gothic revival (Literature) is normally subdivided by place, eg Russia, whereas Gothic fiction (Literary genre) is subdivided by language, eg Russian. Other Library of Congress subject headings which might be applied to material on Gothic literature include the rather more expressive Horror tales and Ghost stories, both of which can also be subdivided by language.

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Notes from previous academic years


"The riddle of space : the history of Russia's social geography" - Tony Wood

The first CamCREES seminar of 2013 saw Tony Wood of the New Left Review talk about the social geography of Russia, from Imperial expansion to Soviet city-building, to the current post-Soviet picture. As with so many subjects covered in the CamCREES seminars, Russian social geography is one which requires some diligent but satisfying work digging around in various departments of the UL. I'll concentrate on the UL's physical collections for this seminar's notes, with particular reference to the Official Publications (OP) and Map departments.

The obvious place in which to look for facts and figures is the OP department, in the Commonwealth Room in the south-west corner of the Library's third floor. As I've explained in previous notes, only post-1999 OP stock is on the electronic catalogue. For earlier material, one has to consult the card catalogue at the end of the Commonwealth Room. This catalogue is subject-based, so you would look under Russia (which also stands for the USSR) and also under specific subjects. I chose the subject Population.

Population - Russia (USSR) has got quite a number of cards and would be well worth investigation. One card particularly caught my eye; it referred across to the subject Migration, Internal. A search there found only one card for Russia, for a 1992 book published in Moscow called Numbers, composition and movement of population in the Russian Federation. I noticed that the title was followed by the word Russian in brackets and underlined. On enquiring at the desk, I discovered that this meant that the book was in Russian (Chislennost', sostav i dvizhenie naseleniia v Rossiiskoi Federatsii) and that the old system had had book titles not transliterated but translated by my predecessor(s) for their appearance in the card catalogue. Quite surprising, but presumably the most sensible approach at the time!

Turning to items on the electronic catalogues (Newton being my preference), it is, as ever, worth looking at the Library of Congress subject headings (LCSH) connected with the topic of the seminar, to help with searches. Social geography is not an LCSH, but a subject search for that term does point you to the heading used instead - Human geography. This can be subdivided geographically (eg Soviet Union) and also by more specific subject or form subheadings (eg History or Bibliography). The heading Human geography - Soviet Union - Bibliography, for example, produces the book SSSR-SNG-Rossiia, a 2001 publication which is a bibliography of social geography covering 1985-1996 (so the LCSH is repeated with Russia (Federation) to show the span over the Soviet and post-Soviet periods).

Doing a combined Boolean search on the catalogue for "human geography" AND (russia? OR soviet) allowed me to find records which mentioned anywhere 1. the phrase "human geography" and also 2a. "Russia" or "Russian" etc and/or (the OR function implies AND/OR) 2b. Soviet. The 17 results were, as expected, not only useful as items worth consulting in themselves but also useful for providing other LCSH to follow, such as Economic geography and Regionalism. The 17 results were, as expected, not only useful as items worth consulting in themselves but also useful for providing other LCSH to follow, such as Economic geography and Regionalism.

Detail from Karta ... putei soobsheniia Rossiiskoi Imperii, 1889 (image © Cambridge University Library).

Something which Mr Wood mentioned briefly but which particularly caught my interest was how the coverage of railways (railroads in LCSH) in pre-Soviet Russia compared with developments in other countries (not favourably). This gave me the excuse to visit the wonderful Map department. Like OP, only its more recent acquisitions can be found through the electronic catalogues. In the case of Maps, any items catalogued before August 2000 can only be found in its card catalogue in the Map Room, in the NE corner of the UL on the first floor.

Looking under 'Russia' in the card catalogue found me huge amounts of items, ordered according to subject (including population!). The first entry for railways in Russia is an 1867 map, but the one I ordered up was the 1889 Karta zhelieznykh, shosseinykh i vnutrennikh vodnykh putei soobshchenia Rossiiskoi Imperii (Map of the railways, highways, and internal waterways of the Russian Empire), published in St Petersburg by the Ministry of Transportation. Made up of 6 large fold-out sections, the map shows indeed how little progress east had been made by the railways (and the major highways) by this point. The close-up I've used as an illustration here shows the easterly most point of the railway - Zlatoust, just to the west of the Europe/Asia border. It's an extraordinary map to look at, and there are many, many more to be found.

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"Russia : mafia state" - Luke Harding

The fourth and final seminar of Lent 2012 was celebrated with a huge turnout to hear Luke Harding, the Guardian's Moscow correspondent who was refused re-entry into Russian in 2011, talk about his Moscow experiences.

Mr Harding started by talking about the previous Moscow correspondents for the Guardian, under its current name and its former one (the Manchester Guardian). Among the often surprising but consistently famous names were those of Malcolm Muggeridge (whose novel informed by his experiences, Winter in Moscow, is available at 201.c.93.81) and Arthur Ransome. Ransome was long interested in Russia, and he produced a book of Russian fairy tales (Old Peter's Russian tales - the earliest edition in the Library (1916) is at 1917.9.122) as well as the factual accounts Six weeks in Russian in 1919 (first edition at 200.d.91.80) and Crisis in Russian (first edition at 9500.d.386).

The main part of the talk, though, was devoted to Mr Harding's own experiences in Russia, the subject of his book Mafia state : how one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia. The 2011 hardback edition is available at C206.c.8003 (borrowable) and the 2012 paperback at 2012.7.1609 (West Room only).

Mr Harding painted a bleak picture of the state of modern Russia, referring to it as a "kleptocracy" and offering little to suggest that the state of affairs might improve soon. He talked about what it meant to be a journalist in Russia, giving the audience some insight into the psychological warfare he was subjected to as a western journalist who ignored the unwritten rules of Kremlin-dictated etiquette, but also remembering Russian colleagues and acquaintances who suffered far greater pressure and ultimately lost their lives.

Among these was the human rights campaigner Natalia Estemirova, who worked in the famous human rights organisation Memorial, and who was murdered in Chechnia in 2009. While the official investigation concluded that a Chechen rebel (himself apparently killed that year in an air strike) was responsible, unofficial views place blame on the Chechen authorities, up to the very top of the steep power vertical - Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov himself. Kadyrov is one of the topics Mr Harding identified as a no-go area for journalists within the Kremlin rules.

There are few books which have been written about Kadyrov. One book each in English and Russian which I've found in online bookshops are in fact compilations of Wikipedia articles... This says rather a lot about the paucity of other material! A keyword search for Kadyrov in Newton brings up 8 results, of which only two are books involving the current Chechen president as opposed to other Kadyrovs. One is called Faces of terrorism (211.c.200.1387) which features a case study by John Russell called Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya: authoritarian leadership in the Caucasus. The other is called Besedy s velikimi (C202.d.4366), made up of interviews done by Igor' Svinarenko with Kadyrov and other... celebrities. Availability and postal services permitting, though, we should be adding at least one more title soon - Aleksei Malashenko's ROSSPEN publication Ramzan Kadyrov : rossiiskii politik kavkazskoi natsional'nosti.

Mr Harding's talk followed hot on the heels of the 2012 Russian presidential elections. The shock new president-elect, V.V. Putin, is far better presented in the Library's book collections. A subject search for Putin brings up over a hundred books about Putin, Vladimir Vladimirovich, 1952- and several hits for more specific aspect subdivisions, such as Friends and associates and Public opinion.

I'll finish off the notes with a recommendation to readers to use the electronic resources the Library provides access to, to have a look at how Mr Harding, the journalist, has been covered by others in the main Russian press. There's a lot of food for thought, and interesting comparisons in treatment dependent on each title's political slant to be seen. Don't forget that our main Russian press database, Integrum Central Press, contains English-language titles (such as The Moscow times) as well as the majority Russian-language ones. Some Russian titles contain both the Cyrillic version and the original English (in brackets after the Cyrillic) when talking about someone whose name is not Russian, but this is not a universally applied system. A search for Harding, then, would bring up hits in the English material and only some of the Russian ones. To get full Russian results, either type in the Cyrillic or press 'translate query' below the search box. While Library of Congress transliteration rules would strictly transliterate the Russian Хардинг back into the Latin alphabet as Kharding ("h" on its own doesn't correspond with any Russian letter in the LC system), the Integrum software is rather more relaxed and appears to recognise either "kh" or "h" as the Russian "х".

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"The political challenges of an oil boom : resource curses and resource blessings in post-Soviet countries" - Dr Heiko Pleines

The third seminar of Lent 2012 saw Dr Heiko Pleines of the Centre for East European Studies in Bremen talk about the experience of four post-Soviet oil-producing countries - Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan.

Dr Pleines talked about traditional research views of oil booms. Early researchers considered the discovery of oil to be a boon for a country. However, later researchers settled on the more negative concepts, seeing inevitable misfortune through the initial/apparent benefits. The concept of the "resource curse" has remained predominant. For Dr Pleines and his colleagues, though, the misfortune isn't inevitable - and this is reflected in their more optimistic term of "resource challenges".

As far as further reading is concerned, this has been generously supplied by the speaker! Dr Pleines brought with him some copies of a working paper written under the auspices of the Centre he is based in. 'Challenges of a resource boom : review of the literature' by Andreas Heinrich is available online (click here for the link) and provides a wealth of references for further research.

In the notes on the second seminar of the term, I mentioned the Library of Congress subject heading for Petroleum industry and trade as the heading for the oil industry. A further look into this for Dr Pleines' talk has made me realise I was mistaken. For the oil industry generally, we have the heading Oil industries (which can be divided geographically). The petroleum heading is more specific, as a particular oil product - and a subject search on the catalogue for Petroleum industry and trade shows further headings more specific in turn, eg Liquefied petroleum gas industry. Readers would do well to be aware of these levels of specificity in the headings, and be accordingly broad-minded in their searches.

Cataloguers often use the rule of three when it comes to subject headings. If there are, say, three authors, each of them gets mentioned. If there are more than three, the first in the list is mentioned, and the others covered only by "... [et al.]". The same principle is applied when it comes to subject headings. In this case, Dr Pleines spoke about four countries' experiences. In a book on the same subject, this would usually mean that they would not be listed individually but covered by the most appropriate collective name - in this case, this would be Former Soviet Republics. In all, I'd probably give the book the headings:

  • Oil industries - Former Soviet Republics
  • Former Soviet Republics - Politics and government
  • Former Soviet Republics - Economic policy, and possibly also
  • Former Soviet Republics - Economic conditions (this reflects the wider economic experience of the country, as opposed to Economic policy which refers to government policy)

There are plenty of electronic resources which would be of interest. A search on the ejournals page for oil Russia, for example, produced Interfax : Russia & CIS Oil & Gas Weekly (available from 2007 through Factiva) and Russia Oil & Gas Report (available from 2009 through ProQuest). For Russian-language resources, there are several oil-related titles in the Integrum Central Press database (for a list of titles, click on the Central press link under the Artefact search window).

We finish by returning to the speaker and, specifically, its speaker. The University Library has got eight books written or edited by Dr Pleines, four in German, and four in English - an author search for Pleines, Heiko will bring these up. Dr Pleines has also written a large number of articles - readers can find a list of these and his other publications on his institutional page.

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"Moskvachylyk : on the ethics of "illegality" in migrant Moscow" - Dr Madeleine Reeves

In the second seminar of Lent 2012, Dr Madeleine Reeves of the University of Manchester gave a fascinating paper about the experience of Kyrgyz migrants in Moscow.

Looking first at Library of Congress subject headings, there's plenty of food for thought simply looking at the most obvious terms.

  • Migrants is not a standard heading : the preferred heading for the former is Immigrants (or the far more specific Migrant agricultural laborers) - the heading for undocumented immigrants is Illegal aliens
  • headings for migrants from a particular place and in a particular place are handled as per the following examples, using the subject of Dr Reeves' talk: [1] Immigrants - Russia (Federation) and [2] Kyrgyz - Russia (Federation) - Moscow
  • the heading Migrant labor is used specifically for labourers moving within one country; labourers working in another country are described as Foreign laborers, optionally followed by an adjective to show their nationality and the name of the place where they work (ie the subject heading for Dr Reeves' talk would be Foreign laborers, Kyrgyz - Russia (Federation) - Moscow)

There are a large number of other subject headings which could be used for the subject of the talk. The heading Bureaucracy, for example, can be subdivided geographically. Items on the oil economy would feature the heading Petroleum industry and trade (please see the notes on Dr Heiko Pleines' talk above for a slight correction and clarification of this) - I'd expect a book on the Russian oil industry to feature that heading (subdivided by Russia (Federation)) and also one along the lines of Russia (Federation) - Economic conditions. There are many other subdivisions which follow a country's name which would touch on this talk, and I'd recommend doing a subject search first for Russia (Federation) and then for Kyrgyzstan, and taking the time to scroll quickly through the lists of subdivisions. There's Emigration and Immigration for example, and Social conditions.

Researching Kyrgyzstan requires the reader to be flexible in their searches. While the Library of Congress authorised heading (and therefore the one found in standard library catalogues) for the country is Kyrgyzstan, other data sources might feature the official form of Kyrgyz Republic or any number of variations on the two (including the extremely anglicised Kirgizstan). The need for flexibility is just as important - and arguably more so - when the reader is searching in Russian.

In the case of the Integrum Central Press database, which provides access to >1000 text-searchable current and archived press titles, the different sources contained within the database mean that variant searches are a must. The Integrum permits the use of the asterisk as a truncation wild card - to use an English-language example, a search for librar* would bring up results for library, libraries, librarian, etc. On Integrum, I did a two searches (in Cyrillic) across all dates, one for Kyrgyz* and one for Kirgiz* - the former produced 15624 hits, the latter over six times as many with 97135.

The Integrum software also allows much more detailed combined searches. For example, a search for kirgiz* gastarb* /p means that you are looking for: any words beginning with kirgiz AND any words beginning with gastarb (thinking here of the Russian version of the term gastarbeiter) AND that you want both these two to occur in one sentence. This search, in Cyrillic (except for the /p) across all dates, produced 2130 results. Use the Help tab within Integrum for further search advice and examples.

There are very, very few books in Kyrgyz in the Library - only a few dozen (of which nearly a quarter are Bibles or parts of the Bible!). Since neither Newton nor LibrarySearch allow a search purely by language (you must always enter a search term), any readers interested in getting a list of Kyrgyz-language books are invited to e-mail Among the books is one which, rather happily, almost fits into the talk - the 1991 publication Fergana kyrgyz z govorlorunun leksikasy by Zheenkul Zhumbaliev, which looks at the Kyrgyz language in the Fergana Valley, where Dr Reeves' Kyrgyzstan fieldwork took place.

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"Ukraine's education policy under a Foucauldian gaze" - Dr Olena Fim'yar

The first seminar of this very important year, which marks CamCREES' 25th anniversary, saw Dr Olena Fim'yar of Freie Universität Berlin talk on 24 January about both research and personal experience. Before a scholarship to Cambridge led her to her current path in academia, Dr Fim'yar was a teacher in Ukraine. Her talk involved both talking through the findings of her PhD and sharing with us the changes she saw in herself and her outlook as her research progressed.

The Newton catalogue of theses contains records for all Cambridge doctoral theses approved from 1970 onwards - earlier theses are still recorded only in a card catalogue. Read the Manuscript Reading Room's Doctoral dissertations guide for further details. The record for Dr Fim'yar's PhD, which looked at Ukrainian education policy, using Foucauldian techniques, is available here. The record has got two pretty clear Library of Congress subject headings: Education and state - Ukraine and Education - Political aspects - Ukraine.

Education is covered both by the University Library and by the Faculty of Education's Everton Library - each has a slightly different focus, so the one to use would be dictated by the reader's interests. The UL's education section is 240-240:4 (South Wing 6), but country-specific items might well be housed in the relevant country's history section. Given the government angle of Dr Fim'yar's PhD, a good look in the Official Publications card catalogue could also throw up some interesting resources. A look today showed nothing under Education - Ukraine, but I'd recommend looking at Education - Europe for more general works and Education - Russia (USSR) for works about the USSR generally and any of the countries (not only Russia) which made it up specifically.

Among the education-related electronic resources the Library provides access to (see the list here) is the British Education Index. It searches for citations without the promise of full text, but clicking on the @cam button after each hit will see the catalogue checked for access. Separate searches for Ukraine and also Foucauldian (or Foucault - to capture both, use Foucaul?) brought up a lot of interesting-looking results. A search for Fimyar brought up two articles by Dr Fim'yar. The earlier one, 'Educational policy-making in post-communist Ukraine as an example of emerging governmentality' is in the Journal of Education Policy, which the Library has in hard copy at P240.b.187 and in electronic form through various providers.

The later article covers the second strand in Dr Fim'yar's talk - her own experiences. This article, 'A manifesto of a postcommunist, poststructuralist researcher : post-viva voce reflections', is published in the journal European Education, which the Library does not subscribe to. The details of the article, complete with an abstract, can either be found on the British Education Index or on European Education's website (click here). Dr Fim'yar spoke about the route her life, identity, and outlook took. As an East European researcher looking from her western alma mater back at her home country, Dr Fim'yar felt pulled between east and west and old and new in a number of ways.

A major help in Dr Fim'yar's struggles was Foucault. There are a million and one areas which Foucault's scholarship continues to have an impact on. A search on Newton for Foucaul? (again, the use of the question mark allows the search engine to come up with all the variant endings) produces several hundred results. Items by or about Foucault should have his name (the full authority form, Foucault, Michel, 1926-1984) as an author or a subject heading, so the truncation device of the question mark shouldn't strictly be necessary. A keyword search for Foucault does bring in a slightly smaller amount of hits, but this is probably due to things like titles which use the word Foucauldian but which, on closer examination of the item, have been considered by the cataloguer not to be sufficiently about Foucault to warrant a heading.

In the past, the subdivision Contributions in [economics, history, etc] was the standard addition after a subject's name, when that subject's work had an impact on specific areas. Readers might still find traces of these on the catalogue, but these should have been changed already to match current practice. This simply has a subject heading for the person, such as Foucault, and a separate subject heading for the subject they are being written on in the context of. For example, a book which might earlier have had the subject heading: Foucault, Michel, 1926-1984 - Contributions in education would now have two - Foucault, Michel, 1926-1984 and Education.

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"Ukrainian, Russian, and Rusyn on the western periphery" - Professor Michael Moser

In many ways, Professor Michael Moser's talk on 22 November was an apt companion to the previous CamCREES seminar, Professor Boris Uspenskij's talk. Professor Moser of the University of Vienna and the Ukranian Free University in Munich spoke about the area now largely in the south-west of modern Ukraine, whose identity throughout history had everything to do with the beholder's perspective. If we take the name of the main part covered by his talk, Transcarpathia, for example, we can see the importance of geographical perspective - some Slavonic names for the area take the Za-carpathia model (za = trans), others the Pod-carpathia (pod = sub).

Professor Moser talked through the complicated path the area inhabited by the Rusyns took, at various times being taken over by Poland, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Ukraine. He also talked about the history of the Rusyn language, or, rather, again, the history of its identity - language or dialect?

The complicated story of the Rusyn people is reflected in the way that subject headings and classification deal with items about them, their land, and their language. The Rusyn question is not covered in great detail by the Library's holdings, but there are interesting things to be found.

The standard subject heading for the Rusyn language is Carpatho-Rusyn language. A subject search shows that, while we have very few books on the language, there are a lot of specific subject headings ending with Maps. A look at just one shows that these are all subject headings for one map - Carpatho-Rusyn settlement at the outset of the 20th century with additional data from 1881 and 1806 (1998 - see record here).

The same subject heading approach is taken for the Rusyn people - the standard heading is Carpatho-Rusyns. A look at the list of books a search brings up shows the next problem for the cataloguer - classification! There is no section in the Library's open-shelf classification scheme for the Transcarpathia or Galicia, so the cataloguer must use their judgement to place each book in the section they consider to be most representative of the book. Some books are therefore filed with Poland, others with the Czech Republic, others with Ukraine - and the list goes on. The fact that Ukraine's history classmark (588:4), which it shares with Moldova, is technically a subdivision within Russian history, speaks volumes about the problems our classification system can throw up.

A search for Professor Moser as author shows that there is more than one author called Michael Moser. To differential between authors of the same name, the Library of Congress name authories show further details. Thus, at the time of writing, the three authors called Moser, Michael represented in our collections are differentiated by middle initial in two cases and date of birth in one. The one we are interested in is the last - Moser, Michael, 1969-. His books in the Library are both more about linguistics, which is one area of Rusyn-related classification which is easy - all books in Slavonic languages go in 777.

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"Europe as metaphor & metonymy in relation to the history of Russia" - Professor Uspenskij

This term saw an extra CamCREES session laid on between the third and fourth, with the great Professor Boris Uspenskij of the Russian State University of the Humanities speaking on Russian history, the relationship between Russia and Europe, and language.

In a pleasing link to Professor David Schimmelpennick van der Oye's talk which started the term off and which, in passing , posed the question of Russia's identity as west or east, Professor Uspenskij started out by putting Russia firmly in Europe, with its Asian side simply the effect of European Russia's expansion. He then spoke about the differences between metaphor and metonym and gave a myriad of examples of place names, not only from the subject of Russia and Europe, but from further afield, to illustrate the differences and what we can read into place names.

Professor Uspenskij's talk could not be easily described with a single subject heading. Metaphor and metonym are each individual subject headings, as is toponomy. To these we might add Russia - History (although this would refer specifically to pre-Soviet Russia and to no later form of the country). The subject headings for Euro-Russian relations would take the form Europe - Relations (or Foreign Relations, etc) - Russia paired with Russia - Relations (ditto) - Europe. For a brief explanation of the different types of Relations subject headings, please see the bibliographical notes for Professor Schimmelpenninck van der Oye's talk below.

One of the figures of history Professor Uspenskij touched on in particular was Peter the Great. He explained the extraordinary and rather Pyrrhic lengths Peter went to to be a moderniser, or rather to be seen to be a moderniser, such as emphasising the progressiveness of St Petersburg by stifling progress in the rest of the country. Peter is, of course, the subject of many volumes in the Library, under the authority heading Peter I, Emperor of Russia, 1672-1725. The earliest book is a 1699 English translation of the mysterious Foy de la Neuville's 1698 Relation curieuse et nouvelle de Moscovie (Account of Muscovy; see record here), available also in French and Russian in more modern editions.

The Library has got over 40 books by or involving Professor Uspenskij. They are all entered under the Library of Congress authority for his name: Uspenskii, Boris Andreevich (following the LoC transliteration rules, unlike the more German transliteration of Uspenskij). Among the books are his first, the 1965 Strukturnaia tipologiia iazykov (record here), his famous semiotics series, and a 2008 festschrift in his honour, Miscellanea Slavica (record here).

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"Soviet novel vs Soviet reality, from Platonov to Aitmatov" - Hamid Ismailov

Hamid Ismailov's talk on 8 November 2011 provided a great literary treat for CamCREES, giving us the opportunity to hear one of the former Soviet Union's most interesting writers talk about Soviet literature. Mr Ismailov spoke about ethnic representation in Soviet literature. As he explained, there is a surprising lack of representation, with any representatives of other ethnic background appearing only occasionally and mainly serving the purpose of providing a sense of "other" in the story. Mr Ismailov stressed again and again how peculiar this was, when Soviet reality featured so much multiculturalism, and debated various reasons for this, for example the taking to extremes by authors the Soviet cultural ideology of "socialist by content, national by form".

Happily, Mr Ismailov's own blog, as BBC writer in residence, contains an entry summarising what he spoke of in his talk, and I thoroughly recommend anyone who missed the talk to read the blog post (click here).

Mr Ismailov spoke about some novels specifically. Among these was Mat' (= Mother) by Maksim Gor'kii (whose authority form is a semi-anglicised version of his name (Maksim Gorky)), which was considered an intensely Soviet novel and one of the first, but which features almost no multiculturalism. The novel is available in the Library in Russian, English, and... Kurdish! Mr Ismailov also mentioned several non-Russian Soviet writers, whose work again was extremely monocultural. Sadly, not all of these writers are well represented in the Library (particularly those writing in non-Slavonic languages), but Chinghiz Aitmatov is one whose books can be found here - in Russian, English, and German.

One other book mentioned in the talk which I'd like to dwell on a little here is Vasilii Grossman's Zhizn' i sud'ba (= Life and fate), which has of late seen a massive renewal of interest. Mr Ismailov used this book as an example of the way in which the separation of ethnic groups in Soviet literature persisted even in literature about the World War 2, despite the reality of a multi-ethnic co-operative war effort. Traditionally, works of literature are not generally given subject headings. Subject headings are only applied if the work of fiction is [a] about a specific person (eg Lenin, Vladimir Il'ich, 1870-1924 - Fiction) or [b] about a specific event, as with Zhizn' i sud'ba (eg World War 1939-1945 - Fiction).

Mr Ismailov's own work is representative of his Soviet reality, involving a wide number of different ethnic and cultural groups. He has written in an incredible number of languages and under an equally impressive number of noms de plume. His best-known work, Zheleznaia doroga was published in Russian in 1997 under the name Altaer Magdi, and in English translation (this time under his own name) in 2006. The University Library is very fortunate to own a number of originals of Mr Ismailov's work, thanks to his great generosity in response to a request for help in tracking the titles down. Each book is catalogued under the name or nom de plume it was published under, but the records are connected by the links between the name records. An author search for Ismailov, Hamid shows a list of noms de plume, with live links to those names the Library has got books written under.

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"The legacy of socialism on Ukrainian political culture" - Professor Kutsenko

On 25 November 2011, Professor Olga Kutsenko of Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University gave a seminar on "The legacy of socialism on Ukrainian political culture".

Professor Kutsenko talked about the different regions of Ukraine and their different histories and experiences, and also provided international comparisons between Ukraine and other East European countries. The talk featured many statistics, from official figures to the results of social surveys. In total, they confirmed that Ukraine's experience (from the national to the individual) of post-Soviet democratisation has not been entirely positive.

The Library's Official Publications collection is the first place to go when looking for statistics and other works by official bodies. As their webpages explain, readers will still need to consult their card catalogues for items other than recent major works. There isn't a huge amount of material on Ukraine, but an example of what there is is a 1993 World Bank Country Study, Ukraine : the social sectors during transition (OP.210.17.502). This was listed in the card catalogue under 'Ukraine'. Readers interested in official publications about Soviet Ukraine (or any other Soviet Union country) will find they'll need to look under 'Russia (USSR)'.

On the electronic catalogues, a subject search for Ukraine brings up a huge number of hits. Among them, the following stand out as of likely interest for further research after Professor Kutsenko's talk.

  • Ukraine - Social conditions
  • Ukraine - Politics and government
  • Ukraine - Economic conditions

All of these can be followed by further subdivisions - date (1991-) is the most obvious, but subject (eg Public opinion) and form (eg Statistics) are also helpful. Public opinion can also be a main subject heading and can be subdivided geographically. An item with this should be more about public opinion more widely in a certain country, while using Public opinion as a subdivision shows that the item is about the perception of a specific and specified thing.

As a look at the books held by the Library written or edited by Hans-Dieter Klingemann, one of the academics Professor Kutsenko referenced in her talk, shows, specific countries often don't feature in subject headings when the item in question is about a wider area. In the case of Ukraine, the country group is likely to be Europe, Eastern or Former Soviet Republics. The records also show examples of certain subject headings in which the country features as a subdivision, eg Political culture - Ukraine.

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"What is Russian orientalism?" – Professor Schimmelpenninck van der Oye

The 2011/12 CamCREES seminars started with a talk given by David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye (Brock) on Russian orientalism. The talk covered in brief the subject of Professor Schimmelpenninck van der Oye's 2010 book, Russian orientalism : Asia in the Russian mind from Peter the Great to the emigration (586:1.c.201.1).

As the book's catalogue record (click here to see it) shows, there are quite a number of subject headings which can be applied to this subject. Orientalism itself is one - the Library of Congress' scope note for this reads: "Here are entered works on Western views of Asia or the Middle East and/or adoption of characteristics of Asian or Middle Eastern culture by Westerners." The other subject headings to draw out in particular are:

  • Asia - Study and teaching - Russia
  • Asia - Foreign public opinion, Russian
  • Russia - Relations - Asia (paired with Asia - Relations - Russia)

These are all fairly self-explanatory, but it's worth expanding a little on the last. Readers may have noticed that there is a very similar heading, following the pattern [Country] - Foreign relations - [Country]. What's the difference? The term "foreign relations" in this context indicates diplomatic relations. "Relations" is more general. "Foreign relations" is just one of several more specific subdivisions; the others are "Military relations" and "Foreign economic relations".

Professor Schimmelpenninck van der Oye focused his talk on two particular creative figures. The first was the artist Vasilii Vasil'evich Vereshchagin, whose paintings of the East often took on a troubling air in their depictions of war and local culture. The authorised form of his name is Vereshchagin, Vasilii Vasil'evich, 1842-1904 - not to be confused with his son (Vereshchagin, V. V. (Vasilii Vasil'evich), b. 1892). Most of the Library's books by or about him are on South Front 6 (within the 405 art classmarks) or in closed access, in the S 3-figures classmark which is used for richly illustrated art books.

The second figure was the composer Aleksandr Porfir'evich Borodin (Borodin, Aleksandr Porfir'evich, 1833-1887), whose opera Prince Igor' (Kniaz' Igor') portrayed the Igor's enemies, the Poltovtsy, in a respectful light. To look into this a bit more, I used a database I'm completely new to - RILM Abstracts of Music Literature . A search for Borodin and Igor brought up 38 results. This is, as it says, a database of abstracts, so you have to click on the @cam button at the bottom of each title to see if the Library has got full-text access to the journal the article appears in. One article which caught my eye as I scrolled down was 'Entoiling the falconet' : Russian music Orientalism in context by Richard Tarushkin. Clicking on @cam brought up three electronic databases which contain the article. It also brought up a feature I had no idea about - a box showing other articles which readers who'd clicked on the link had also looked at. The connection in the readers' minds isn't necessarily clear, but it could be a really helpful link.

Other than Vereshchagin and Borodin, the person whose name cropped up most frequently during the talk and the lively conversation afterwards was Edward W. Said, whose 1978 book Orientalism challenged the accepted views of the term and assigned it far more negative connotations. The Library has got three copies in English (published 1978, 1985, 1995). If you do a subject search for Said (Said, Edward W.), you'll see that there are quite a few books about him and his work.

You'll notice that, unlike subject headings for Vereshchagin and Borodin, the headings for Said don't include the subdivision Criticism and interpretation. This is because that subdivision is only used after the names of "persons active in the fine arts, literature, music, and performing arts". This means that, for such people, the subject headings can differentiate between pure biography (their name alone) and critical work (their name with this subdivision). For people working outside these fields, such as Said, their name as a subject heading stands for both biography and criticism.

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"The performing arts in revolutionary Russia" – Dr Paul du Quenoy

On Tuesday 15 March, Dr Paul du Quenoy (American University of Beirut) spoke about the performing arts in early 20th-century Russia. This is the subject of his 2009 book, "Stage fright : politics and the performing arts in late imperial Russia", which is available in the Library at 415:1.c.200.159.

The performing arts is a subject well represented in the library's main collection, its special collections and its electronic resources. Starting with books, those on the open shelf are somewhat let down by the classification scheme. While the scheme can be sensitive and detailed in its teasing out of strands in some subject areas, it applies a very broad brush to the performing arts. 415 was originally the sole class mark, with 415:01 housing series. In January 2000, 415 was superceded by 5 decimalised classes:

  • 415:1 Performing arts, general works.
  • 415:2 Theatre and stage, staging (incl. masques, pageants, puppet theatre, etc.)
  • 415:3 Film and video
  • 415:4 Television and Radio broadcasting
  • 415:5 Dance and other performing arts

This broad approach does not allow for further subdivisions, so there is no specific section, say, for Russian theatre. This means that the reader is more than usually dependent on the details provided by catalogue records (and, in particular, the Library of Congress subject headings) to track down the books they need. A rough overall guide:

  • the subject heading "Performing arts" can be subdivided, so you'll find listings for specific countries and aspects there
  • narrower terms (eg Ballet), also subdivided; NB remember that LC subject headings use American English, so "Theater" and not "Theatre"
  • specific aspect terms, eg "Theater audiences" can be found, and are often subdivided geographically ("Theater audiences - Soviet Union", for example, brings up a 1920s book called "Teatr imeni Vs. Meierkhol'da i rabochii zritel'" by a Iurii Kobzon - featuring a preface by Lunacharskii!)
  • names of specific people involved (eg "Teliakovskii" as an author or subject will bring up Vladimir Arkad'evich, the last administrative director of the imperial theatres, who Dr du Quenoy mentioned)
  • names of specific bodies (eg theatre troupes: "Moskovskii khudozhestvennyi akademicheskii teatr" or "Ballets russes")

The Library's older material and its special collections contain some very interesting items about the performing arts. For example, the Catherine Cooke collection provides the reader with rare material in a variety of media. Narrowing searches on the library catalogue down to material in the Cooke collection can be achieved quite easily by including the phrase "Catherine Cooke" in one's searches - this is because each item from her collection features a note referring to the collection by its full name. Eg a search for "'Catherine Cooke' theater?" in the keyword search (the "theater?" component will capture anything with "theater" or "theaters" etc) brings up 10 hits - 4 books, 3 journals, 2 poster-type items, and 1 map!

The Library's electronic resources also provide good material about the performing arts, thanks to the initiative of academics to persuade the Library to purchase access to certain subsets of the IDC Brill "Mass culture and entertainment in Russia" database. The subsets cover cinema, theatre, and mass media in the last decades of imperial Russia and the first of Soviet Russia. Click here to read the full list. Each subset can be found listed on the Library's electronic databases pages.

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"Molotov's magic lantern" – Rachel Polonsky

On Tuesday 2 March, Dr Rachel Polonsky (Cambridge) spoke about her book, "Molotov's magic lantern" (C204.c.6539).

The Library of Congress authority heading for Molotov predates the standardised LC Russian transliteration that libraries use now, and is "Molotov, Vyacheslav Mikhaylovich, 1890–1986". Open–access books about him are classified within Soviet history (at 586:92 or 586:94). The most recent book on Molotov is the first instalment of his grandson Viacheslav Nikonov's biography, which Dr Polonsky mentioned. "Molotov. Molodost'" is available at 586:94.c.200.58. Feliks Chuev's interviews with Molotov also came up at the talk. The 1991 "Sto sorok besed s Molotovym" is at 586:92.d.95.488, and the 1993 English–language "Molotov remembers" at 586:92.c.95.1139.

Molotov also comes up as an author/editor of a variety of works, in a variety of UL locations. His speech for Stalin's funeral is at 9586.d.103 (order in the Reading Room). The 1942 "We shall not forgive!" published by the Foreign Languages Publishing House is at S538.c.810.1 (order in the West Room) includes a note submitted by Molotov about the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

Books about the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact are given the standardised Library of Congress subject heading "Germany. Treaties, etc. Soviet Union, 1939 Aug. 23" and are largely classified within the World War 2 sequence at 539:1.

One of the stories in "Molotov's magic lantern" is that of Nikolai and Sergei Vavilov, the scientist brothers whose fates showed the extremes of Stalinism. The UL's holdings for works by Nikolai, the biologist, include "TSentry proiskhozhdeniia kul'turnykh rastenii" (Yule.b.45, order in the Rare Books Room), published in 1926, many years before his arrest and death in prison. The Central Science Library has, among others, three works by Nikolai Vavilov dating from the 1930s. The UL's holdings of Sergei, the physicist, include the 1946 publications "Sovetskaia nauka na sluzhbe rodine" (Ud.5.28; order in West Room) and "Sovetskaia nauka na novom etape" (9340.d.832; order in Reading Room). Books in the UL about Nikolai Vavilov can mainly be found in 379:2 (biography of biologists) and about Sergei Vavilov in 352:8 (biography of physicists).

Books about Trofim Lysenko, whose version of botanical science led to Vavilov's downfall, are largely found on the open shelves within the biology class (379:2 for history/biography; 379:6 for genetics). The earliest books are three 1949 English–language publications attacking Lysenkoism. Zhores Medvedev's book "Vzlet i padenie Lysenko" is at 379:6.c.95.589, but its first appearance in print (in English in 1969) is also available, at 379:2.c.95.31. Books by Lysenko are largely in closed access. They include a 1948 speech to the Academy of Agricultural Sciences, "O polozhenii v biologicheskoi nauke" (S380.d.94.1) and several English–language translations of his work.

"Molotov's magic lantern" also features the stories of many literary figures and their fates under Stalinism. The book ends with a bibliographical note, in which "The KGB's literary archive" by Vitalii Shentalinskii, the English–language abridged version of his "Raby svobody", is mentioned. This version can be found at 756:14.c.95.337, the Russian a few books away at 756:14.c.95.346, and even a French translation a little further still at 756:14.c.95.358.

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"Reconsidering the 'Third Rome': the origin of Russian messianism in the work of Nikolai Berdiaev" - Ana Siljak

On 8 February 2011, Dr Ana Siljak (Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario) gave a talk about Berdiaev and Russian messianism. Some general notes about searching on these subjects follow below. Plus, Dr Siljak has kindly passed the UL a list of suggested further readings on the subject of Russian messianism. Click here to open the list, which has UL class marks added to it.

Firstly, Berdiaev books in the UL. The Library of Congress standardised form of his name is Berdiaev, Nikolai, 1874-1948. A search on the library catalogue for Berdiaev N as an author is enough to bring his works up; 70 in total at the moment. The same search as a subject heading brings up 46 works about Berdiaev, with some more about specific works by him (eg Russkaia ideia) or specific subjects about him (eg marriage). The most common open shelf location for books by and about Berdiaev is South Wing 4, but do be aware that the books are more widely scattered and that many are in closed access.

Secondly, messianism books! Library of Congress subject headings include the specific term "messianism". A search by this word as subject brings up the full list of headings subdivided by country, including several for Messianism - Russia and Messianism - Russia - History. As the cross-reference shows, political messianism is filed in that form ("political messianism"). There are several Russian entries under that too. Open-shelf books on messianism are variously placed in the UL, with history, literature, philosophy, and religion the most popular locations.

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