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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


New Books in Cambridge Slavonic Studies

New Books in Cambridge Slavonic Studies

Cambridge Slavonic Studies and CamCREES are delighted to invite you to celebrate

New Books in Cambridge Slavonic Studies

Wednesday 19th October

5-7pm (book presentations at 5.30pm)

Old Combination Room, Trinity College

Drinks and nibbles

This event will be combined with the annual CamCREES networking event.


Please RSVP here



Czesław Miłosz's Faith in the Flesh: Body, Belief, and Human Identity

Stanley Bill

This book presents Czesław Miłosz's poetic philosophy of the body as an original defense of religious faith, transcendence, and the value of the human individual against what he viewed as dangerous modern forms of materialism. The Polish Nobel laureate saw the reductive "biologization" of human life as a root cause of the historical tragedies he had witnessed under Nazi German and Soviet regimes in twentieth-century Central and Eastern Europe. The book argues that his response was not merely to reconstitute spiritual or ideal forms of human identity, which no longer seemed plausible. Instead, he aimed to revalidate the flesh, elaborating his own non-reductive understandings of the self on the basis of the body's deeper meanings. 

Within the framework of a hesitant Christian faith, Miłosz's poetry and prose often suggest a paradoxical striving toward transcendence precisely through sensual experience. Yet his perspectives on bodily existence are not exclusively affirmative. The book traces his diverse representations of the body from dualist visions that demonize the flesh through to positive images of the body as the source of religious experience, the self, and his own creative faculty. It also examines the complex relations between "masculine" and "feminine" bodies or forms of subjectivity, as Miłosz represents them. Finally, it elucidates his contention that poetry is the best vehicle for conveying these contradictions, because it also combines "disembodied", symbolic meanings with the sensual meanings of sound and rhythm. For Miłosz, the double nature of poetic meaning reflects the fused duality of the human self.


Blood of Others: Stalin's Crimean Atrocity and the Poetics of Solidarity

Rory Finnin

In the spring of 1944, Stalin deported the Crimean Tatars, a small Sunni Muslim nation, from their ancestral homeland on the Black Sea peninsula. The gravity of this event, which ultimately claimed the lives of tens of thousands of victims, was shrouded in secrecy after the Second World War. What broke the silence in Soviet Russia, Soviet Ukraine, and the Republic of Turkey were works of literature. These texts of poetry and prose – some passed hand-to-hand underground, others published to controversy – shocked the conscience of readers and sought to move them to action.

Blood of Others presents these works as vivid evidence of literature’s power to lift our moral horizons. In bringing these remarkable texts to light and contextualizing them among Russian, Turkish, and Ukrainian representations of Crimea from 1783, Rory Finnin provides an innovative cultural history of the Black Sea region. He reveals how a "poetics of solidarity" promoted empathy and support for an oppressed people through complex provocations of guilt rather than shame.

Forging new roads between Slavic studies and Middle Eastern studies, Blood of Others is a compelling and timely exploration of the ideas and identities coursing between Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine – three countries determining the fate of a volatile and geopolitically pivotal part of our world.


The Family Novel in Russia and England, 1800-1880

Anna A. Berman

This book offers a new understanding of the relationship between family structures and narrative structure in the nineteenth-century novel. Comparing Russia and England, it argues that the two nations had fundamentally different conceptions of the family and that these, in turn, shaped the way they constructed plots. The English placed primary value on the vertical, diachronic family axis--looking back to ancestors and head to progeny--while the Russians emphasized the lateral, synchronic axis--family expanding outward in the present from nuclear core, to extended and chosen kin. This difference shaped the way authors plotted consanguineal relations, courtship and marriage, and alternative kinship constructions. Idealizing the domestic sphere and emphasizing family continuity, the English novel made family a conservative force, while Russian novels approached it as a backward site of patriarchal tyranny in desperate need of reform. Russian family plots offered a progressive, liberalizing push toward new, nontraditional family constructions. 

The book's comparative approach calls for a re-evaluation of reigning theories of the novel, theories that are based on the linear English family model and cannot accommodate the more complex, Russian alternative. It reveals where these theories fall short, explains the reasons for their shortcomings, and offers a new way of conceptualizing family's role in shaping the nineteenth-century novel. Classics from Dickens, Eliot, and Trollope, to Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Turgenev are contextualized in the broader literary landscape of their day, and Russia's great women writers regain their rightful place alongside their male counterparts as the book draws together family history, literary analysis, and novel theory.


Tolstoy in Context

Anna A. Berman

Likened to a second Tsar in Russia and attaining prophet-like status around the globe, Tolstoy made an impact on literature and the arts, religion, philosophy, and politics. His novels and stories both responded to and helped to reshape the European and Russian literary traditions. His non-fiction incensed readers and drew a massive following, making Tolstoy an important religious force as well as a stubborn polemicist in many fields. Through his involvement with Gandhi and the Indian independence movement, his aid in relocating the Doukhobors to Canada, his correspondence with American abolitionists and his polemics with scientists in the periodical press, Tolstoy engaged a vast array of national and international contexts of his time in his life and thought. This volume introduces those contexts and situates Tolstoy—the man and the writer—in the rich and tumultuous period in which his intellectual and creative output came to fruition.  


Places of Tenderness and Heat: The Queer Milieu of Fin-de-Siècle St. Petersburg

Olga Petri

Places of Tenderness and Heat is a ground-level exploration of queer St. Petersburg at the fin-de-siècle. Olga Petri takes us through busy shopping arcades, bathhouses, and public urinals to show how queer men routinely met and socialized. She reconstructs the milieu that enabled them to navigate a city full of risk and opportunity.

Focusing on a non-Western, unexplored, and fragile form of urban modernity, Petri reconstructs a broad picture of queer sociability. In addition to drawing on explicitly recorded incidents that led to prosecution or medical treatment, she investigates the many encounters that escaped bureaucratic surveillance and suppression. Her work reveals how queer men's lives were conditioned by developing urban infrastructure, weather, light and lighting, and the informal constraints on enforcing law and moral order in the city's public spaces.

Places of Tenderness and Heat is an ambitious record of the dynamic negotiation of illicit male homosexual sex, friendship, and cruising and uncovers a historically fascinating urban milieu in which efforts to manage the moral landscape often unintentionally facilitated queer encounters.