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Scholars to Examine Role of Mary in Modern Russian Culture

Two-day symposium a collaboration of Holy Cross and Museum of Russian Icons
January 19th, 2011 by 

The College of the Holy Cross and the Museum of Russian Icons will present a two-day symposium titled “Framing Mary: The Mother of God in Modern Russian Culture,” Jan. 27-28.

The symposium will bring together scholars of Russian literature, religious history and art history to explore how and why the iconic image of Mary, Mother of God, has been used to frame and shape Russian national, cultural, and spiritual self-expression. The study of religious themes in the field of Slavic studies has grown exponentially since the fall of the Soviet Union, and the study of icons and their role in major Russian cultural movements and historical periods has been of particular interest to scholars and students of Russian culture.

“We have found that images and icons of Mary have played a critical role in Russia’s attempts to interpret its place in history, to assert itself politically, and to express itself culturally and socially,” said Amy Singleton Adams, associate professor of Russian literature at Holy Cross and an organizer of the conference.

The symposium will open at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 27 with a tour of the Museum of Russian Icons led by Museum founder Gordon Lankton. After the tour, William Wagner, Brown professor of history at Williams College, will give the keynote address. Wagner is a specialist on Imperial Russian and early Soviet history, and has written widely on pre-Revolutionary Russian law, religion, and women.  He is currently completing a book titled Russian Sisters: Monasticism, Modernity, and the Nizhnii Novgorod Convent of the Exaltation of the Cross, 1764-1935.

Presentations on Friday, Jan. 28 will take place in Rehm Library, Smith Hall, at the College of the Holy Cross and include:

  • “More Numerous Than the Stars in Heaven: An Eighteenth-Century Encyclopedia of Mariology” — Elena Boeck, associate professor of art history and architecture, De Paul University
  • “The Akhtyrskaia Mother of God Icon” — Christine D. Worobec, Board of Trustees Professor and Distinguished Research Professor of History, Northern Illinois University
  • “Pushkin Framing Mary” — Sarah Pratt, professor of Slavic languages and literatures, University of Southern California
  • “Woman at the Window: Maksim Gorky’s Revolutionary Madonna” — Amy Singleton Adams, associate professor of Russian literature, College of the Holy Cross
  • “In Search of Wholeness: The Many Faces of Mary in Tsvetaeva’s Poetry and Fiction” Alexandra Smith, professor of Russian literature, University of Edinburgh
  • “Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin’s Petrograd Madonna and the Meanings of Mary in 1920” — Wendy Salmond, professor of art and art history, Chapman University
  • “Our Mother of Paris: The ‘Creative Renewal’ of Mariology in the Russian Emigration, 1920s-1940s”  — Natalia Ermolaeva, Department of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University
  • “‘The Painter of the Madonna’: Pimen Maksimovich Safronov and Marian Iconography, 1930-1970” — Roy Robson, professor of history, University of the Sciences
  • “Russian Religious Feminism and the Marian Ideal: Motherhood and ‘Maria’ in the Late Brezhnev Era” — Elizabeth Skomp, assistant professor of Russian, Sewanee: The University of the South
  • “Following in Mary’s Footsteps: Marian Apparitions and Pilgrimage in Contemporary Russia” — Stella Rock, senior research fellow, Keston Center for Religion, Politics and Society, Baylor University
  • “The Marian Face of Contemporary Russia” — Vera Shevzov, associate professor of religion, Smith College

The complete schedule is online at www.holycross.edu/crec. The symposium is open to faculty, students and scholars. Tickets to attend the events at the Museum of Russian Icons on Thursday, Jan. 27 are $5 for Museum members and $10 nonmembers. Visit the Museum’s Web site at www.museumofrussianicons.org or call 978-598-5000 for more information. There is no cost to attend the presentations at Holy Cross on Friday, Jan. 28.

About The Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture:
Established in 2001 and housed in Smith Hall, the Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture provides resources for faculty and course development, sponsors conferences and college-wide teaching events, hosts visiting fellows, and coordinates a number of campus lecture series. Rooted in the College’s commitment to invite conversation about basic human questions, the Center welcomes persons of all faiths and seeks to foster dialogue that acknowledges and respects differences, providing a forum for intellectual exchange that is interreligious, interdisciplinary, intercultural, and international in scope.  The Center also brings members of the Holy Cross community into conversation with the Greater Worcester community, the academic community, and the wider world to examine the role of faith and inquiry in higher education and in the larger culture.

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