Open research seminar

School of Arts and Cultural Heritage
Project start date:

The Open research seminar of the Department of Art History has existed since 2002. The seminar was originally conceived of as a platform for discussion, where the Department’s students could discuss current problems of art criticism and history with EUSPB professors and guest specialists. During the course of the seminar’s existence literary and art scholars and critics, film historians, musicologists, translators and critics – scholars, teachers, and employees of museums – as well as specialists from Russia, Bulgaria, Germany, the USA and France have all lectured at its sessions. At various times Mikhail Allenov (MGU), Alexander Dolinin (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA), Arkady Klimovitskii (St. Petersburg Conservatory, Russian Institute for the History of Art, Russian Academy of Sciences), Ivan Marazov (New Bulgarian University), Omry Ronin (University of Michigan –Ann Arbor, USA), Rashit Yangirov (Library Foundation “Russian Abroad,” Moscow) and others have numbered among the lecturers.

Project News

THE FORCE OF DISCIPLINE: The Procuracy in Stalinist Russia, 1938-1956

The history of the procuracy illustrates that Stalinist justice was more than orchestrating show trials. Ordinary state prosecutors very rarely dealt with political enemies. Their main task was to investigate and prosecute millions of non-political offenses, such as theft, murder, or rape. At the same time, they bore responsibility to enforce legal norms within the state apparatus. All branches of government, including police work, were subject to prosecutors’ supervision. The procuracy not only was a crucial instrument for controlling the Soviet populace.

FRAGILE EXCHANGE: Porcelain and the Function of Luxury in Interwar Soviet Russia

This lecture examines the constellation of actors and interests that sought to transform porcelain, once the “white gold” of European and Russian court societies, into a useful and valuable material in interwar Soviet Russia. In a society that struggled between eliminating class distinctions and maintaining structures of power, the production of consumer goods was the everyday staging ground upon which designers, critics, and political officials represented those disputes.

THE COOK WHO WILL GOVERN THE STATE: Domestic Servants and the Revolution

The image of the domestic servant has traditionally been a symbol of inequality and exploitation. How to explain the existence of domestic servants in the Soviet state, which made claims about the abolition of exploitation of man by man, and the liberation of women from kitchen slavery? Why paid domestic labor was neither condemned nor driven into the informal economy, but rather became an official part of the socialist economy?