DepositExteriority Is Not a Negation, But a Marvel: Hospitality, Terrorism, Levinas, Beowulf

This essay considers Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophy of hospitality in relation to the “isolated and heroic being that the state produces by its virile virtues,” through an analysis of female Chechen suicide terrorists in contemporary Russia and the figure of Grendel in the Old English poem “Beowulf,” in order to raise some questions about the relation between violence, justice, and sovereignty, both in the Middle Ages and in our own time.

DepositJustificaciones populistas de la guerra? La intervención rusa en el este de Ucrania

In the context of the war between Ukraine and Russia in the Donbass and the earlier crisis over Crimea, this paper examines four speeches by Vladimir Putin to identify and map populist elements in his discursive and formal strategies of justifying and creating a specific form of conflict. The analysis shows how this populism goes beyond the people/establishment dichotomy and is based on complex notions of enmity and alliance, a very broad definition of the Russian nation, a new division of the political space, and the introduction of new symbols of unity and the reaffirmation of old ones beyond the borders of today’s Russia. This casts a new shadow over Russian foreign policy in the post-Soviet space. Clarity is sought on questions about the Ukrainian conflict, but it is also hoped new elements will be brought to the existing literature on populism.

DepositThe shortest species: how the length of Russian poetry changed (1750–1921)

The paper studies long-term changes in the length of Russian poetry (1750–1921) to reveal the relation of poem length (counted in lines) to a poetic form and its evolution. The research has shown a dramatic decrease in the mean and median poetry lengths during the 19th century. This decrease was followed by the decline in length diversity, which resulted in short poems (8–20 lines) overpopulating the literature during the age of Modernism. We argue that this transformation towards the short form could be understood in the framework of cultural evolution: Russian poetry struggled to keep its literary niche, while being continuously under the pressure of successful large narratives of the 19th century. Therefore, it was forced to develop complexity while being highly constrained formally (accentual-syllabic verse and rhyme maintained for a long time) by the shrunk length of a lyrical poem.

DepositJesuit Conspirators and Russia’s East Asian Fur Trade, 1791–1807

In 1791, amidst growing anxiety about British encroachment on its fur trade with the Qing Empire, the Russian government discovered that Britain was sending a large and important embassy to Beijing, led by Lord Macartney. In an attempt to derail the negotiations, Russia enrolled the Polotsk Jesuits in a plot to convince the Qing of the nefariousness of British designs. The conspiracy was not a success, despite Macartney’s failure. The Jesuits both in Belarus and Beijing continued to play a central role in Russia’s geopolitical plans in the region for the next decade and a half, although ultimately the project to establish a Russian Jesuit college in the Qing capital failed. Using Russian as well as Jesuit archival sources, the article reconstructs the secret plans, mishaps, and miscalculations that shaped this unusual relationship.

DepositUnpacking Viazemskii’s Khalat: The Technologies of Dilettantism in Early Nineteenth-Century Russian Literary Culture

This article explores the image of the khalat, or dressing gown, in and around Petr Viazemskii’s 1817 poem “Proshchanie s khalatom” (Farewell to My Dressing Gown). As the poem circulated during the period between its creation and printing, its central image—the khalat—became enshrined as a symbol for early nineteenth-century literary culture around and within the Arzamas circle, emphasizing a creative inner life and an informal approach to writing. The poem mediates between friendship, honor, authenticity, and authorship and the formalities, duties, and expectations of society life. The khalat image appears in later poems, correspondence, and occasional writings by Anton Del’vig, Aleksandr Pushkin, and Vasilii Zhukovskii, among others. Tracing the image through its intertextual influences, extratextual impact, and memetic evolution, I examine the way it contributed to the development of an intellectual network through information transfer during the early nineteenth century and beyond.