Revolution!: Ireland and Russia in the wake of 1917 Maynooth University, Ireland, Friday 28 April 2017

Maynooth University, Ireland, is hosting a symposium on Ireland and Russia ‘in the wake of 19117’:

One hundred years after the Russian Revolution of 1917, this event explores its effects on Irish political and cultural history. How did those at opposite ends of Europe view their contemporary revolutionary periods? What political lessons and strategies did the Irish Left take from the events of 1917 during subsequent years? How were new ideas, styles and techniques in writing and art, generated during the early, hopeful, years of Soviet society, absorbed into Irish literary and visual culture? What traffic in ideas and people occurred between these two societies in their revolutionary periods and during the grim interwar decades?

Speakers from universities and institutions in Ireland, Britain and Europe will address the effect of the Russian Revolution on revolutionary politics, literary culture, and on film and the visual arts in Ireland.

Plenary speaker: Dr Ben Levitas (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Speakers: Maurice Casey (University of Oxford); Dr Barbara Dawson (Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane); Paul O’Brien (biographer of Sean O’Casey); Dr Eimear O’Connor (Trinity College Dublin); Dr Donal Ó Drisceoil (University College Cork); Barra Ó Séaghdha (Dublin City University); Dr Stephanie Schwerter (Université de Valenciennes); Professor Helena Sheehan (Dublin City University)

Organising Committee: Dr Michael G. Cronin, Dr Conor McCarthy, Dr Guy Woodward

Venue: An Foras Feasa Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, Iontas Building, Maynooth University

FREE EVENT: ALL WELCOME

Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/revolution-ireland-and-russia-in-the-wake-of-1917-tickets-33490898178

Conference blog: https://irelandand1917.wordpress.com/

Reading Group: What Did Cultural Diplomacy Ever Do For Us – and Them?

Pauline Fairclough: What Did Cultural Diplomacy Ever Do For Us—and Them? Performing the Musical State in Britain and Russia

The Anglo-Russian Research Network will be holding its spring reading group at 5:30 on Friday 12 May at Pushkin House, Bloomsbury (www.pushkinhouse.org). We will be reading about and discussing the role of music in Anglo-Russian cultural understanding.

The discussion will be led by Dr Pauline Fairclough of the University of Bristol. The readings can be downloaded here.

At first glance, the mutual showcasing of national musical cultures looks like a diplomatic strategy that cannot fail. As the most superficially ‘harmless’ of the arts, music’s role as a neutral pacifier and conduit for bland cultural admiration has been exploited many times over; yet this apparent innocence has masked many a more dubious strategy, as recent Cold War studies of music exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union have demonstrated. And during the Soviet period, political undercurrents can be found at every level of a composer’s reception, as the case of Shostakovich in Britain makes abundantly clear. Yet Russian and British musical exchanges were well underway before the Bolshevik Revolution, and even in less ideologically fraught times, critical receptions of music within both Russia and Britain reveal ways in which the two cultures regarded each other, at times with condescension, at times with admiration, and at other times with mutual incomprehension. Pauline’s talk will touch on all these issues, looking at pre-revolutionary and Soviet eras to ponder the nature of music’s role in facilitating, or even obscuring, processes of cultural understanding.

Pauline Fairclough is Reader in Music at the University of Bristol. She is a cultural historian specialising in Soviet musical history, and has published widely on Shostakovich and music of the Stalinist era. Her last book, Classics for the Masses. Shaping Soviet Musical Identity Under Lenin and Stalin (Yale, 2016) looked at how Soviet symphony orchestras made the transition from pre-revolutionary bourgeois concert culture to a tightly scrutinised Stalinist administration, yet in many respects consciously preserved the ‘bourgeois’ identity of musical life. Her current project is a century-long look at Anglo-Russian musical connections, focusing on the importance of personal relationships in shaping exchanges and critical reception.

If you plan to attend, it would be helpful if you could let Rebecca Beasley (rebecca.beasley@ell.ox.ac.uk) and/ or Matthew Taunton (M.Taunton@uea.ac.uk) know. The discussion will finish at 7, and anyone available is very welcome to join us for dinner nearby.

 

Reading Group: ‘Never more close, intimate and cordial’: The ‘Projection of Russia Campaign’ on the BBC Home Service, 1941-45. Introduced by Claire Davison

The Anglo-Russian Research Network will be holding its spring reading group at 5:30 on Friday 3 March at Pushkin House, Bloomsbury (www.pushkinhouse.org). We will be reading and discussing the role of the BBC in nurturing Anglo-Russian cultural relations after Russia entered the Second World War in 1941.

The discussion will be led by Professor Claire Davison of the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle. The readings can be downloaded from the link below.

Claire writes: ‘My presentation will be focusing on Anglo-Russian cultural relations as projected and nurtured by the BBC after July 1941. The explicit purpose of the ‘Projection of Russia Campaign’ was threefold: to improve public perceptions of the new Ally amongst both the British civilian population and the Forces, thereby eclipsing the dominant anti-Bolshevist sentiments cultivated in the 30s; to transmit a positive image of British solidarity to Russian politicians and diplomats; and to boost public morale in Britain, now at its lowest ebb as Nazi positions strengthened across Europe. The overall success of the campaign, and the waves of popular admiration and support for the Russian war effort, are largely acknowledged by historians, but generally omitted or sidelined by school textbooks, the film industry and the public imaginary today.

‘My quest to understand the spectacular success of the campaign, and the equally spectacular feats of collective amnesia in commemorative, cultural and historical accounts today, took me to the Written Archives Centre and the Sound Archives of the BBC, the Radio Times and The Listener. Here I was able to trace rich and sometimes dazzling examples of the campaign’s broad cultural coverage, and of the figures promoting the campaign’s success whether front stage or from the wings. I could also find abundant proofs of the successful reception of the broadcasts, as letters from listeners testified regularly. No wonder that by October 1944, Churchill could confidently assert that ‘British relations with Russia had never been more close, intimate and cordial than at present’– even as plans were being drawn up to curtail the campaign and override its impact at the earliest opportunity.

‘My presentation will be focusing on one of the highpoints of the four-year campaign: ‘Russia Night’, a three-hour long feature on the evening of November 8, 1943, broadcast on the Home Service and (in a slightly shortened and altered version), on the Forces Programme. We’ll be looking at the script for ‘The Spirit of Russia’, a forty-five minute broadcast presented as a ‘panorama of Russian life’: it adopts a pageant-type format, with sequences of narration, dramatic eclogue, poetry recital and musical interlude to conjure up Russia’s vast history, geography and resilient cultural vibrancy.’

Claire Davison is Professor of Modernist Studies at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, where her teaching and research focus on intermedial borders and boundaries of modernism: translation and reception of Russian literature in the 1910s-20s; literary and musical modernism; modernist soundscapes and broadcasting.  She was the Chair of the French Virginia Woolf Society (SEW) from 2008 until 2016. She is the author of Translation as CollaborationVirginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield and S. S. Koteliansky (2014) published by Edinburgh University Press, and the co-editor of a number of recent volumes on literary modernism, including the fourth volume of The Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Katherine Mansfield, in Four Volumes (Edinburgh 2012-6); and The Collected Poetry of Katherine Mansfield (Edinburgh, 2016). Her ongoing research project has involved extensive explorations of radio archives from the war years, in preparation of a monograph on cultural diplomacy and the coverage of trans-European modernism on the BBC Home Service, in the 1930s-40s.

The readings and other material for this Reading Group is available here.

 

Launch of Brave New Classics website: impact of Russian Revolution in Britain

Brave New Classics is a Leverhume-funded ECR project designed to explore how the intellectual repercussions of the Russian Revolution affected British culture to 1956. It focuses on creative engagement with the Greek and Roman classics in British writing. In early 20th-century Britain diverse social groups were participating in culture to an unprecedented extent, and leftist writers — engaging with the classics — changed their creative practice to cater for these new readerships. This study examines the unexpected but electric convergence of British receptions of Soviet Marxism and classics, and their combined influence on British culture from 1917 to the Hungarian Revolution and Suez Crisis.

You can find more info here: http://www.bravenewclassics.info/