Volume 79 Number 4 Abstracts

Chekhov’s Environmental Psychology: Medicine and the Early Stories

Matthew Mangold

In light of the historical circumstances surrounding Chekhov’s early writing career and his own statements about the importance of medicine to it, there is surprisingly little scholarship on how medicine shaped his prose. What ideas was he introduced to in medical school and how did he apply them? Which of these drew his attention as he strove to articulate a new artistic vision? How did Chekhov draw on his experience with medicine to experiment with new themes and forms in his literary writing? This article addresses these questions by focusing on the aspects of medicine that had the most discernable influence on Chekhov as he developed his literary writing: hygiene, clinical medicine, and psychiatry. It argues that Chekhov engaged with core issues of medicine not only as a medical student who wrote case histories of his patients, but also as a groundbreaking writer. As he transcodes insights from the clinic into his prose, he creates a new conception of details that disclose relationships between settings and characters and an environmental psychology emerges across his medical writing and fiction. His stories envision relationships between physical and mental life with such originality that he becomes a new literary force not long after completing his medical education. 

The Wandering Orthodox Nuns: Religion and Gender in the Nineteenth-Century Central Balkans

Evguenia Davidova

This article discusses a specific type of religious travel—not pious pilgrimage to the Holy Lands—but more mundane trips performed by Eastern Orthodox sisters to beg for donations within and between three multi-confessional empires. More specifically, it focuses on how nuns’ spatial movements put them on the bigger imperial and transnational maps of church, state, and society and contributed to negotiating space for gender. By combining mobility and gender as categories of analysis, I position the sisters’ acts within three broad themes: travel, women’s education, and social networks. I suggest that nuns’ involvement in local communities and the establishment of schools for girls provides evidence for worldly as well as pious concerns. By encompassing rich social interactions, the sisters’ story presents gender imbalances in more palpable form and embodies larger experiences of nineteenth-century women who strove to achieve self-development and to assert social visibility.

Keywords: Balkans, education, gender, mobility, nuns, religion

Performing Glinka’s Opera A Life for the Tsar on the Village Stage

Julia Mannherz

Between 1896 and 1917, the Perm<’> “Guardianship of Popular Sobriety”—an organization funded by the Ministry of Finance and supervised by the provincial governor—ran a popular choir program that engendered enthusiastic artistic collaboration between peasants, workers, the regional intelligentsia, and state officials. One major achievement of participants were amateur performances of Glinka’s monarchical opera A Life for the Tsar throughout Perm<’> province. This article focuses on the musical activities of one peasant women, E.N. Shniukova, and argues that provincial and otherwise unknown musicians, many of whom were women, played a key role in spreading cultural values and shaping musical life in the early twentieth century. These regional musicians rejected the peripheral position that their location and social position otherwise suggested and proudly viewed their villages as centers of artistic creativity.

“Airing Our Dirty Linen in Public”: Lidiia Chukovskaia, Nadezhda Mandelʹshtam, and Competing Visions for a Liberal Soviet Counterpublic

Lusia Zaitseva

This article contributes to the study of gender and dissidence in the Soviet Union by examining the feud between two significant authors of cultural samizdat and tamizdat—Nadezhda Mandelʹshtam and Lidiia Chukovskaia—through an updated feminist lens. It draws on prose unpublished in their lifetimes and presents previously undiscovered writing by Mandelʹshtam in order to examine the origins and substance of their feud. I argue that their distinctive modes of authorship date to their relationship with Anna Akhmatova and subsequent differing approaches to her legacy. These approaches reveal their shared conservative attitude regarding gender and moral authority in the nascent liberal Soviet counterpublic as well as their diverging understandings of how the transnational public sphere could help bring about much-needed changes at home. These attitudes shaped how they regarded each other and continue to have salience for our understanding of women’s participation in the public sphere in Russia today.

Resurrection by Surrogation: Spectral Performance in Putin’s Russia

Maksim Hanukai

This article examines the emergence of what I call “spectral performance” in Putin’s Russia. Focusing on the Immortal Regiment initiative, I investigate the growing importance of practices that ask the living to act as surrogates for the dead. My analysis proceeds in three stages. First, applying a memory studies frame, I show how the Regiment helps preserve memory of WWII in a time of significant generational change. Second, drawing on theories of political theology and biopolitics, I show how the Regiment reaffirms the Kremlin’s sovereign power to regulate the boundaries between life and death while symbolically displacing sovereignty from the “flesh” of the people to a growing ranks of “immortals.” Finally, focusing on the question of representation, I show how the Regiment helps construct an oppressive distribution of the sensible that privileges the dead over the living. I conclude by examining St. Petersburg artist Maksim Evstropov’s necro-activist project Party of the Dead as a cultural critique of the Regiment.