Associate Professor of Russian Literature
Her scholarly publications include articles on Nabokov, the Bakhtin brothers, early Soviet film, and the aestheticization of historical trauma, primarily, culture of the Siege of Leningrad (1941-1944). She has also authored eight books of poetry and one book of prose in Russian. Three books of her poetry in English translation were published recently: This Lamentable City (Tupelo Press), Zoo in Winter (Melville House Press), Relocations (Zephyr Press).
Professor Barskova is currently working on a project entitled "The Ruin Screams: Poetics of the Spatial Representation During the Siege of Leningrad."
This course will explore how narratives live and die; how society can endanger them and bring them to fruition; how various environments, social and natural, influence production of language and narrative. Among these environments, we will look at writing in and about prison, concentration camps and environmental disaster, with special attention dedicated to the topics of censorship and language death, which we will treat as political and social environments of their own kind. We will ask questions like: (1) Why are narratives censored and why are so many languages dying? Who has a say in the matter and what can be done? (2) How does a censored narrative/dead language become uncensored/revitalized? Why is it often labeled "classic"/"exotic" by virtue of being found/revitalized? (3) Can and should we find extinct narratives/languages? (4) How and why does a human create narratives while knowing it will likely be censored and extinct?
In Greek, the term "Ekphrasis" means "to describe, to point out, to explain" and is associated with the desire to turn that which is visual into words. How do text and image reflect and depend on each other? For centuries, these two modes of representation have enjoyed fruitful yet difficult paths of communication and mutual questioning/interrogation. This course will touch on various issues that emerge from the rhetorical collaboration between text and image. Beginning with G.E. Lessing's 18th century discussion of the ancient sculpture of the Laocoon and ending with contemporary texts and imagery, we will examine the mutual "collaborations" between artist and writer, and writer and artist as romantic, modernist, and post-modernist activities. Writers and artists may include but are not limited to: Auden, Baudelaire, Beuys, Bruegel, Cezanne, Duchamp, Elmer, Ginsburg, van Gogh, Gogol, Hawthorne, Keats, Kennedy, Khnopff, Lessing, Moreau, Redon, Rich, Rossetti, Ruskin, Sexton, Shelley, Stein, Tennyson, Tsvetaeva, Turner, da Vinci, Waterhouse, Wilde, and Williams. This course is designed primarily for Division II students with at least one course in literature and/or art history.
This course will use writing as a way to notice the natural world more closely. We will read American and Russian authors for whom being in nature and writing about nature led to a deeper understanding of their social conditions. We will consider a variety of narrative positions, including those of naturalists, hikers, tourists, mystics, activists, scientists, sportsmen, soldiers, prisoners, workers (firemen at Chernobyl Nuclear station, for example), explorers and others. We will try to understand how and why women and men of the last two centuries constructed nature as they did. Comparative assessments of the two cultures will inevitably emerge, although that is not our only focus. We want to examine (and develop) our own ability to think about our environment critically and responsibly. As our natural habitat grows increasingly fragile, we hope most of all to understand ourselves in it. We will read and write analytical and creative prose, and poetry, and will devote considerable attention in class to reviewing our written work.
Our course will combine development of skills in analytic close reading, creative writing and library research thru looking at the works of Russia's perhaps most mysterious and most influential writer of the 19th century (and beyond)--Nikolai Gogol. Traveling in his world of threatening mermaids and flying dumplings, we'll ask questions of Romantic authorship and nationalism, writing outside of your homeland and your language, the role that sexuality and gender play in creative work. We'll read, write, watch and discuss film adaptations, and visit local museums/libraries/archives.