Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Polish Carols Concert in Dublin

The Promyki Sloneczne Choir presents "Polish Christmas Carols".

Concert Dates:
Saturday, 3 December 2011
- 1:30pm, Polish School SEN (Muslim School, Colaiste Mhuire, Navan Rd, Dublin);
- 6pm, St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral (Marlborough St., Dublin)

Sunday, 4 December 2011
- 10am, Polish School (St. Benildus College, Upper Kilmacud Rd, Stillorgan, Dublin);
- 6pm, St. Audoen Church (High St., Dublin)


Monday, 28 November 2011

The Government Inspector at the Abbey

Nikolai Gogol's famous 19th century satire of rural Russian corruption and officialdom 'The Inspector General' is given an Irish spin by Roddy Doyle - a portrait of incompetent, embezzling and bungling politicians and bureaucrats with the language of modern Ireland? Surely not! Check out Doyle's Irish Times article on the challenges of adapting Gogol.

Even better, check out 'The Government Inspector', now playing in the Abbey Theatre!

Slavonic Tea

The annual Slavonic Tea party will take place this Wednesday evening, 30th Nov 2011, 6pm, in Room 4017 in the Arts Building. (Please note that this is NOT the usual room.) Students who have been away in Russia, Poland and the Ukraine will talk about their time abroad, supported by visuals. Please come along to join in the fun!

The Tea party will be held in place of the pub night; however, this does not preclude continuing the party at the pub afterwards :).

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

EUROPEAN STUDIES LECTURE SERIES: War and Memory in Europe after World War II - France and Ukraine

Dr Per A. Rudling (University of Greifswald): War and Memory: National(ist) Interpretations of World War II in Ukraine

Dr Edward Arnold (Trinity College Dublin): Myth, Memory and Collective Amnesia in in Post-war France

European Union House, 18 Dawson St, Dublin 2

Wednesday, 7 December 2011, 6:00 PM

For more information please contact Dr Balazs Apor at aporb@tcd.ie

Dr Per A. Rudling (University of Greifswald): War and Memory: National(ist) Interpretations of World War II in Ukraine
The failure of the Ukrainian national movement to achieve a state in 1918 led to the division of the ethnic Ukrainian lands between Poland, the Soviet Union, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. While Ukrainian nationalism, like other east European nationalists movements was liberal or left-leaning, it was radicalized in the interwar period. Soviet communism exercised some influence in the 1920s, but following Stalin’s ascent to power, this tradition lost most of its attraction power. Instead, in the 1930s, the rise of Hitler came to serve as a catalyst for the Ukrainian nationalists. Nazi Germany catered to the Ukrainian nationalists as a counterweight to Polish and other Slavic nationalisms. Subsequently the relations deteriorated over the war. The nationalists’ relations to the Nazis left a controversial legacy and rivaling historical myths. While historians are beginning to get a fairly clear picture of the nature of the collaboration, the ideology of the nationalists, their participation in the Holocaust, their campaign of ethnic cleansing of Poles and Jews, these issues remains sharply contested in Ukrainian and diaspora politics and popular culture. President Yushchenko posthumously turned some leading nationalists into national heroes, a decision condemned by the European Parliament.
The lecture focuses on polarizing historical myths, particularly in regards to the Holocaust, the Polish-Ukrainian conflict in 1943-44, and the ideology of the nationalists. The legacy of a divisive historical legacy is discussed from the perspective of Ukrainian integration with the European Union.

Dr Per A. Rudling:
Educated in Uppsala, Sweden (MA, Slavic studies, 1998), San Diego, California (MA, History, 2003), and Alberta, Canada (Ph.D. History, 2009), Per Rudling is a post-doctoral fellow at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität, Greifswald, Germany. His research interests include nationalism, identity, and ethnic conflict in Ukraine and Belarus.

Dr Edward Arnold (Trinity College Dublin): Myth, Memory and Collective Amnesia in in Post-war France
In the immediate post-war period there was a clear instrumentalisation of collective memory and history for political motives on both sides of the political spectrum on the left (PCF) and the right (Gaullism). This created a form of state-sponsored collective amnesia on the real extent of state, collective and individual forms of collaboration, and on participation in the Shoah. Political parameters for a generation had been set up around Collaboration/Resistance or support or rejection of Vichy/collaborationism/resistance, and the dominant ideology was resistancialism on left and right, instrumentalised by the gaullist myth of resistance to Nazi oppression. Official commemoration of the Shoah was absent until the mid to late 1990. Chirac’s speech of 16 July 1995 ended the real ambiguity of French Presidents during the 1970s and 80s (Pompidou, Giscard and Mitterrand) towards the deportation of the Jews when he officially acknowledged that the French State and a number of French citizens had “seconded the criminal madness of the Occupant”.

In addition, the real nature, complexity and extent of the Algerian war was also suppressed, as was the fragmented collective memory of this conflict up until the turn of the last century (1999). 40 years after the events, high-ranking veterans, notably General Paul Aussaresses, admitted in their memoires on the War that torture and, in some cases summary execution, was frequently used by even drafted soldiers. These admissions were confirmed by the writings of rank-and-file soldiers. Not only had the State denied the existence of extreme acts of violence against the Algerians, but also refused to punish proven cases of  it. The expression “Algerian War”, or indeed “War for Algerian Independence (as opposed to “peacekeeping operations”) was not used in official declarations until the late 1990s.
Up to a million Algerians may have been killed, 25,600 French soldiers perished, and 65,000 were wounded. The gaullist myth, built on sacrifice and resistance to oppression and barbary was in stark contrast to the savage repression of the Algerians by the French Army. Yet history was very selective in what it recorded for the period of the Algerian War, and as with the case of the Occupation, this past of torture, violence and barbarism would not be confronted until long afterwards (1999).

Dr Edward Arnold is the Director of the Centre for European Studies at Trinity College Dublin, and he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of French.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Mitki

Moritz Kasper looks at the subversive 1980s underground art movement
The term “Mitki” was first coined by Vladimir Shinkanev in 1983, when he wrote a short treatise on his friends, calling them Mit'ki. This was a reference to the painter Dmitri (“Mityok”) Shagin, who popularized the Mitki with quick and poignant sketches of the “Mitki lifestyle”, which included working weekly 24-hour shifts in boiler rooms to earn enough money for a minimal diet in the Soviet Union (accommodation was provided by the state). In 1985, the creative energies of these two men were united to publish a book illegally as samizdat about the theoretical and practical aspects of “Mitki life”. The language used was pseudo-scientific, imitating the tone of Marxist sociology as well as anthropology, mixed with dadaistic Mitki vocabulary; almost every second page was filled with an illustration by Shagin.
Here is an extract from a typical chapter. This one is from “The Mitki and the Epic”:

 "Goethe and Jean-Paul expressed the opinion that the epic is the opposite of the comic. The oral literature of the Mitki not only refutes this opinion. It proves that the opposite is true. I will cite one funny story as the most lofty example of the Mitki epic:

"The captain of an ocean liner yells from the bridge: “Woman overboard!” An American runs on deck. In one spirited motion, he tears away his white shorts and a white T-shirt with the slogan “Miami Beach.” He wears steel-coloured bathing trunks, his body is covered in a bronze tan. Everyone watches breathlessly. The American runs to the railing, gracefully flies over, enters the water without a splash, and confidently cuts the waves in international breaststroke style toward the woman. But . . . ten meters from his goal he drowns!

The captain yells again: “Woman overboard!” A Frenchman runs on deck. In one sweeping motion, he tears away his blue shorts and a blue T-shirt with the motto “L’Amour Toujours,” remaining in yellow bathing trunks with parrots. Everyone watches breathlessly. The Frenchman soars over the railing like a bird, performing three somersaults before he hits the water without a splash! He elegantly swims in international butterfly strokes to save the woman. But . . . within five meters from his goal he drowns! 

The captain roars again: “Woman overboard!” The door to the broom closet opens and a Russian stumbles on deck, blowing his nose and hiccupping. “What broad? Where?” He’s wearing a threadbare, torn, greasy quilted jacket. His pants form huge bubbles over his knees. He slowly takes off his jacket, his striped sailors’ shirt, and unbuttons the only button on his fly, remaining in baggy, dirty, kneelength underwear. His body is white and bulky. Shivering with cold, he clutches at the railing, awkwardly tumbles overboard, and falls into the water with a lot of noise and splashes. 

And . . . drowns instantly!" 

What is remarkable about this passage is that it shows the Mitki were clearly not pro-Western. In the context of the “Mitki epic”, Western culture is irrelevant; the outcome stays the same. But it is the Mitki man who is more true to life. It is not that he recognizes failure, he lives it, he is its incarnation and this is what makes him a more natural character in Soviet society and perhaps the world in general. Another typical work is Olga Florenskaya's series “The Heroes of Russian Aviation”, which is reproduced below.

It shows pre-revolutionary aviator Lev Matsievich as he plummets from the sky towards an ageing couple. In the left half of the picture we can already see a monument erected in Matsievich's honour; a father and his child are walking around it, accompanied by two birds. The sky's intensive blue could also be interpreted as a maritime allusion. In fact, the word used in the text to the right of the aeroplane, воздухоплавание “the celebration of aeronautics”, is a compound of воздух (air) and плавать (to swim).
In any case, whether this event is meant to be related to the sea or not, it provides us with another example of the failure of a grand Russian undertaking, and a typical Mitki tactic to defame official state grandeur, in this case the monument for the hero of aviation who cannot fly, just as earlier we met the Mitki sailor who could not swim.

One among many other attempts to escape the dull everyday reality of the Soviet regime, the work of the Mitki belongs to a time that is now almost forgotten – by cosmopolitan Russians and “Westerners” alike. In a time where everything is available at the touch of button, people are now looking for a hold on, rather than a distraction from, reality.

Moritz Kasper is a second year TSM student of Russian, currently on a year's study in Moscow State University

For an in-depth look at Soviet culture, enrol now in the second semester of the 'Milestones in the History of Russian Culture' course. 

Film Night, "Love and Death, Wed 23 Nov

You are cordially invited to the next film night, a joint venture between the Department and the Russian Society. The screening will take place on Wed, 23 Nov, at 7pm in Room 2043 (the Thomas Davis Theatre) in the Arts Block, and will be preceded by an introduction to the Russian (and some non-Russian) themes and references in the film by our own Alexandra Rumyantseva.


About the Movie:Woody Allen's “Love and Death” is purportedly a satire of all things Russian, from Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky novels to Sergei Eisenstein films. With genius references to Russian literature Woody Allen made a classic comedy that gives off a laugh every few moments. Allen plays Boris, a 19th century Russian who falls in love with his distant (and married) cousin Sonja (Diane Keaton). Pressed into service with the Russian army during the war against Napoleon, Boris accidentally becomes a hero, then goes on to win a duel. He returns to Sonja, hoping to settle down on the Steppes somewhere, but Sonja has become fired up with patriotic eagerness, insisting that Boris join a plot to kill Napoleon. Intellectual in-jokes abound in Love and Death.

Polish-Irish Encounters in the Old and New Europe

Peter Lang: Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2011. (Reimagining Ireland. Vol. 39)

This book will be launched tomorrow, 22 November, by His Excellency Marcin Nawrot, Ambassador of Poland, at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, as part of a transcultural evening from 5.30pm. Click for more information about the launch and how to obtain the book.

Blurb: The cultural, political, social and economic interaction between Ireland and Poland has a long and complex history. This volume hopes to contribute to an emerging debate around the issues concerned by looking at alternative frameworks for understanding the relationship between the two countries. While the topic has attracted growing interest among researchers from various disciplines in recent years, this is the first book dedicated to exploring this cultural relationship in the context of Polish migration to Ireland. The essays in this collection tease out significant strands that connect the two countries, including literature, visual media, education, politics and history. Examining Polish-Irish relations in their wider historical and cultural context allows for new definitions of Irish, Polish and European identities in the New Europe.

Contributors:  John Belchem Róisín Healy Paul McNamara Jonathan MurphyJohn MerchantRobert LoobyJoanna RostekPatrick NugentBartlomiej WalczakLiliana Kalinowska • Joanna Baumgart/Fiona FarrEwelina Debaene/Romana KopečkováRozalia LigusTomasz KamusellaNanette SchuppersKinga OlszewskaSimon Warren

Friday, 18 November 2011

I Remember the Magical Moment

Freshly subtitled for the 'Milestones of Russian Culture' lecture on 19th century music, the 'father of Russian literature' Alexander Pushkin and the 'father of Russian music' Mikhail Glinka join forces for a musical setting of Pushkin's lyric poetry (this performance - Yuri Gulaev, 1978)

A glimpse into the thriving, unofficial 'salon culture' of the early 19th century, whose poetry recitals and philosophical discussions helped to shape the Golden Age of Russian literature as well as the birth of Russian classical music, much like the later influence of the unofficial 'Samizdat' and 'Magnitizdat' cultures of the Soviet 1960s. Notice the simplicity of the piano accompaniment, designed for circulation by intimate salon performance, the subtle reference within this sentimental love song to Pushkin's enforced political exile in the countryside for his writings after the Decembrist revolution: - “the rebel storm's blast scattered the dreams of former times [...] in remoteness in gloomy isolation” - which gives the song a subversive political edge for his contemporaries, and, lastly, the harmony between the rhythms of the song and the musical rhythms of Pushkin's Russian.

The distinctive character of Russian prose played a huge role in shaping the aesthetics of Russian music, with a staggering 141 operas being based on the works of Pushkin alone. The most radical 19th century Russian composer Mussorgsky, in works like 'Marriage' and 'Night on a Bare Mountain', drew inspiration from Gogol's chaotic breaking of the rules of composition and jolting shifts of tone between poetic lyricism and farce - listen to his famous 'Night on a Bare Mountain', based on Gogol's St. John's Eve.

Click for more info on the 'Milestones in Russian Culture' evening course.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Research Seminar on Polish-Lithuanian History

Early Modern History Research Seminar
Department of History, Trinity College Dublin

Monday 21 November, 4PM

George Lukowski
The Failed Republic:
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the Eighteenth Century

George Lukowski is a Reader in Polish History at the University of Birmingham. His published work includes Liberty’s Folly: the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the eighteenth century (1991); The Partitions of Poland (1997); The Eighteenth-Century European Nobility (2003); A Concise History of Poland (2001/ 2006); Disorderly liberty: the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the eighteenth century (2010).
The seminar meets in the Neill/ Hoey Lecture Theatre in the Long Room Hub Building, Fellows Square. All welcome. Any queries, please contact Graeme Murdock (murdocg@tcd.ie).

Monday, 14 November 2011

Pub night!!!

Just a quick reminder that we are meeting again this week, on Wed, 16th, at the usual time. Please note that the planned film screening has been moved to next week - watch this space for further details.

Pub nights take place fortnightly on Wednesdays at Kennedy's pub, near Lincoln Gate and Pearse Street DART station, from 8:30pm. The remaining dates for this semester are 30th November and 14th December. Brush up your Russian, Polish, Czech or Bulgarian over a pint with learners and native speakers alike! All welcome!

Language Village competitions

The first competition invites teachers of Russian, Italian, Japanese and Spanish to share teaching or learning ideas and resources for teaching their language. The second competition invites all and sundry for their views on "Why learn more languages?" Submissions need to be in before 24th November, when the prizes (an iPad and iTunes vouchers) will be drawn.

"Russian Made All the Difference"

The Post-Primary Languages Initiative has created a wonderful new AV series based on interviews with people who studied Russian and/or came to live in Russia and Russian-speaking countries for the most varied reasons (sports, ballet, film-making ...), or by accident. Check it out here! And if you ever needed convincing why it is worth studying Russian, the site also carries links to long lists of "reasons why" - some more serious than others :)!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Polish Folk Dance Group

The Polish Folk Song and Dance Group Shamrock is based in Dublin. We have performed at many events as recently as the KinoPolis launch at the Irish Polish Society 2 weeks  ago. Please check out our website to learn more about us.

Perhaps you would like to keep us in mind if there was any event where you needed some Polish folk culture! Also we are always looking for new members, especially those who are experienced folk dancers, and newcomers are welcome the 1st Tuesday of every month.

Eimear Musgrave, Advanced Polish student

International Charity Bazaar

This coming Sunday 50 embassies based in Ireland will get together at a unique multicultural, festival bazaar, to raise money for charity. You will have a chance to taste traditional dishes and purchase artisan handcraft from different parts of the world! Exotic food and wine, gifts, jewellery and traditional goods are all on offer.

Sunday, Nov 13, 11am-5pm
Burlington Hotel, Upper Leeson St., D4

The highlight of this year’s Polish stand is the Ambassador’s Speciality Bigos (Polish traditional dish based on the Polish Ambassador’s great grandfather’s secret receipt) watered down with Polish vodka! Other items on sale include designer jewellery and handicraft, Polish bio coffee, organic honey from Poland, homemade Polish cakes and many more!!

The Russian Embassy will also have a stand, as will Bulgaria, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and many more! Below some photos from last year's bazaar.

Latvian choir

Lithuanian treats

Slovakian smoked cheese - yum!

The Slovenian stand

Bulgarian goodies

Estonian stand with Lord Mayor

The Hungarian stand
And the Russian one.

For more info, check the website.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Interactive language portal bab.la

Try your hand at quizzes, memory games, hangman and other tests in Russian and Polish at different levels of difficulty. You can enter through the English portal page and set the settings accordingly. The site also has a Russian <> English and Polish <> English dictionary.

"Siberian Wonderland" - Internships in Novosibirsk, January 2012

The Educational Centre "Cosmopolitan" will be running its annual Winter Language School, "Siberian Wonderland", in January 2012 near Novosibirsk. Several places are still available, for both volunteer teachers or students of the Russian course. The programme is open to schoolchildren, university students and adults of all ages and levels of Russian.

More information on the programmes can be found here, and the Programme Director Natalia Bodrova may be contacted at this address.