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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

Russian Cultural & Historical Studies: Boris Maslov, Assisstant Professor of Comparative Liteature at University of Chicago will give a seminar entitled 'Cross-Historical Comparison and the Rise of Literary Studies, ca 1860-1940'

15th October 2013, 11:00, ER152, Elvet Riverside I, Durham University

Abstract: What does it mean to compare texts and literary forms not in terms of their placement within a literary or national tradition, but based on their paradoxical coexistence within a single historical moment? What kind of dialogue and mutual illumination is possible between oral epic and Tolstoy, or between peasant folk tale and modernist prose, which ostensibly belong to different cultural “phases” yet, in fact, collide? In this talk, I discuss three moments of such a productive encounter and suggest that they provided a crucial impetus for the evolution of modern thinking on literature, comparative and otherwise: one centering on the prose of Nikolai Leskov in the 1920-30s, the other on the quest for ethnographic comparanda for Homeric epic from the 1870s to the 1920s, and the third on responses to extant peasant epic in Russia in the 1860s. 

Boris Maslov’s research centers on Archaic Greek poetry, imperial/Byzantine Greek and Old Russian literatures. Currently he is working on two book projects: one, entitled Pindar and the Emergence of the Literary, investigates the formation of the categories of authorship, poetic image, and literary genre in Archaic Greece; the other traces the history of panegyric and the ode from Pindar to Mandelshtam. Prof. Maslov is also working on a series of studies on the afterlife of Ancient Greek sociopolitical and ethical vocabulary in Byzantium and among the Eastern Slavs. Together with Prof. Ilya Kliger (NYU), he recently edited a collection of articles, entitled Persistent Forms: Explorations in Historical Poetics. Prof. Maslov’s broader research and teaching interests include historical, linguistic, and sociological approaches to poetics, comparative conceptual history, and philology of cultural import, genre and narrative theory.

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