Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Bulgarian Foreign Minister at Trinity

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov visited Trinity College on 23rd November and held a meeting at the Long Room Hub with members of the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies and the Bulgarian students of Trinity College.  

Following a brief welcoming speech from the Head of School Dr. Sarah Smyth, and a speech in Bulgarian by Dr. John Murray, Mr Mladenov held a question-and-answer session with Bulgarian students studying at Trinity, and met some of Irish students currently studying Bulgarian with the department. 

The meeting was also attended by the Bulgarian Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Emil Yalnazov, and the Bulgarian Lector at the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies, Dr Rossen Stoichkov.

Click here for information on the department's Bulgarian course.
Photo: Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov with Sarah Smyth.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Last pub night of the year

Please come along for a last chance this year to have conversations in Bulgarian, Czech, Polish and Russian at the last pub night of the year! As usual, we will meet from 8.30pm onwards at Kennedy's Pub beside Lincoln Gate (Westland Row). All welcome!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Slavonic Salon and 'Whale'!

Lady Windermere's Caffeinated Art and Literature Salons present a special Slavonic evening on Wednesday 14th December (final pub night!). With silent cinema screenings of the classic Man With a Movie Camera, bilingual poetry readings by the Russian department's own Natasha Kulachkovskaya and Brigit McCone, songs of the Russian bards played and sung live, and finishing with a screening of a new subtitling of the Bulgarian film 'Whale' by Ellie Boyadzhieva and Brigit McCone.

Above: the climax of whale as Comrade Director Parushev (veteran Bulgarian actor Georgi Kaloyanchev) hallucinates the whale.

Directed by Peter Vasiliev, Whale is a biting satire of the bureaucratic incompetence and empty propaganda of 1960s Bulgaria, set to a swinging jazz soundtrack. Made at a tricky moment in 1967 when the Thaw was coming to an end and the Prague Spring threatened democratic revolution, the film was held up by 2 years' wrangling with the censors before being given a limited release without fanfare (where it still attracted sell-out crowds and spawned famous Bulgarian catch-phrases such as the classic optimist vs. pessimist debate 'It's fish but it's a sprat!' 'It's a sprat, but it's fish!'). Disappearing again until the end of communism, the film's rerelease in Bulgaria sparked renewed interest, but it is still virtually unknown abroad and not widely available in English translation.

Click here to watch the full film on Youtube

A haven of coffee, conversation and cookies set amidst chill-out zones, classic silent cinema, musicality, performance, paintings, browsable reading matter, vintage wares and holistic healings, Lady Windermere's Salons will be open Wednesday - Sunday from 4pm to 9pm until the winter solstice in the Back Loft, with different performances and events each day - visit for details. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Parfenov's Ptitsa-Gogol'

Tonight, at 7pm, in Rm. 5025. The film will be shown in Russian without subtitles!

Blurb: "[Н]овый фильм Леонида Парфенова, снятый к 200-летию Николая Гоголя – "Птица-Гоголь". Созданный в авторской стилистике документальный проект расскажет об авторе "Мертвых душ" не как об основателе реализма в русской литературе, а как о модном и актуальном писателе-авангардисте, рождавшем произведения доселе небывалые, исполненные волшебства и фантасмагорий." (Первый канал/Kinopoisk)

The first channel has podcasts of the film (in 16 instalments).

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Crazy Locomotive at Players Theatre

The Crazy Locomotive
Starring: Johnny Kelly, Mateusz Kołakowski, Fionnuala Gygax, Tuula Costello, Danny Greening, Alice Bentley, Declan Johnston, Julia Walsh, David Armstrong, Finn Plekkenpol, Michael Ware and Patrick Cummins-Tripodi.
Directed by Patrick Reevell and Patrick Cummins-Tripodi
Players Theatre, Monday (5 December) - Saturday (10 December), 7pm (except Wed - 6pm), only 5.00 (3.50 euro for Players members)!

Seminal Polish play, performed for the first time in Ireland. "Witkiewicz's writing has the bubbly boil of angry lunacy; the play is a furiously sardonic smirk of despair." NYT

Two men, one a train engineer and the other a stoker, set off on their steam locomotive on what seems a day of work just like any other. But racing along the rails, they come upon the idea that they must crash the train, killing themselves and all aboard, in the name of living and liberation. Set entirely aboard the engine of a steam locomotive, the play follows two men’s crazed venture towards destruction and the love triangle that emerges as their efforts are complicated by a bizarre host of characters.

Drawing inspiration from the author’s surrealist paintings and Futurist music, the production aims to create a spectacular journey of colour, sound and energy.

ABOVE: 'Deception of a Woman', Witkiewicz's self-portrait with Maryla Grossmanowa. 
BELOW: one of "Witkacy's" surrealist compositions

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

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 (

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

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.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Milestones in the History of Russian Culture

Against the backdrop of Russian history, this new lecture course (2011/12) offers an overview of major developments in Russian literature, music, film, painting, sculpture, architecture, theatre (including opera and ballet), crafts and costumes.
Spanning the history of Russian culture from its roots to the present day, the course is divided into two semesters. The first looks at the culture of pre-revolutionary Russia (from the icons of Kievan Rus’ through the times of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great to the ‘golden age’ of the nineteenth century), while the second covers the culture of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia from the October Revolution to the present (the avant-garde of the 20s, Stalinist social realism, ‘the thaw’ under Khruschev, the culture of ‘glasnost’ and contemporary Russia).
This multimedia course is intended for a wide audience with a general interest in Russian culture. The class consists of a one and a half hour lecture per week. Lectures are delivered in English by staff of the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies.

The course is already running, but it is possible to enrol for the second semester.

Lecture Schedule for Michaelmas Term (first semester)

The completed application form accompanied by payment in the form of a personal cheque, postal money order or bank draft, payable to Trinity College no. 1 account should be returned to: The Executive Officer, Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies, room 5045, Arts Building, Trinity College, Dublin 2. Phone: 01 896 1896, email:

Russian Society events

The Trinity College Russian Society is planning a big programme of events for the coming academic year.

Fortnightly film nights (Russian with subtitles):  
12th Oct 2011: 'A Driver for Vera'/'Водитель для Веры'
 20th Oct 2011: 'Brat 2' (part of Open film night)

Culture nights out:
26th Oct 2011: Restaurant 'Admiral'
March: Russian State Ballet performing Swan lake. Tickets are €40 and will be sold on Thur, 27th Oct, 11-1 and 3-5 in the Main Hall of the Arts Building.

Russian language classes:
Contact Karolina  (see below).

If you would like to join the Russian Society (membership €4), please email the Membership Secretary Karolina Mitikaite.

Ferris Wheel from Chernobyl at Dublin Contemporary

A Brian Duggan exhibition as part of Dublin Contemporary 2011 (Earlsfort Terrace) running until the end of October.

Some information about this part of the exhibition in Russian.

Tours of and talks about the exhibition (in Russian or English) can be arranged - email Sarah (usual departmental address).

Departmental pub nights are back!

Guinness for fluency ;)
The Departmental pub nights are informal gatherings of people wishing to converse in Polish, Russian, Czech and Bulgarian, the languages taught in the Department. They take place fortnightly on Wednesdays at Kennedy's pub, near Lincoln Gate, from 8:30, starting on 5th October.

The remaining dates for this semester are 2nd Nov, 16th Nov, 30th Nov, 14th Dec - please put them in your diary! The pub nights will take place unless superceded by another departmental event, such as a tea party.

As always, we ask all our native and advanced speakers of Russian, Polish, Bulgarian and Czech to come along and give a hand to those learning your language! If you haven't been to a pub night, check the restaurant section of the pub first and look out for a "Slavonic departmental pub night" sign on the table.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Workshop on 1956 and Memory - 7 October

“1956-es” – Resistance and Memories in the Eastern Bloc

Trinity College Dublin, Long Room Hub, 7 October 12.15-16.30

This one-day workshop aims to provide a forum for a comparative assessment of resistance movements in the Eastern bloc in 1956. Focusing mostly on the Polish and Hungarian events, the workshop will address the significance of popular discontent (a nascent civil society?) in challenging the authority of the Party and the State, and in gradually eroding the communist system. The workshop is organized on the 55th anniversary of the events of 1956 and thus the issue of the legacy of 1956 will also be addressed. The multiplication of diverse historical and political interpretations, the fragmentation of the ‘idea of ’56’, and the emergence of 1956-es in the collective consciousness of the respective societies will be in the limelight of discussions at the workshop.

12.15-12.30 Introduction
12.30-13.00 Clemens Ruthner (TCD), Contested memories in Central and Eastern Europe – A brief introduction
13.00-13.30 Kevin McDermott (Sheffield Hallam University), Resistance and Conformity in Stalinist Czechoslovakia
13.30-14.00 Gábor Gyáni (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Eötvös Loránd University), New approaches to the '56 Revolution in today's Hungarian historical scholarship
14.00-14.30 Coffee break
14.30-15.00 Ewa Stanczyk (TCD), Commemorating Poznan ‘56
15.00-15.30 András Mink (Open Society Archives, Central European University, Budapest), Meanings of an uprising: The changing images of 1956 in Hungary
15.30-15.50 Leila Hadj-Abdou (European University Institute, Florence), Collective memory and contemporary debates about immigrants in Austria. Does 1956 matter? (Discussion input)
15.50-16.20 General discussion 

The workshop is organised by the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies (TCD) and the Irish Association for Russian and East European Studies

For further information email Balazs Apor at

Friday, 30 September 2011

The Multicultural Culture of Russia

Extracts from a public lecture delivered in the Trinity Long Room Hub as part of the 'Dublin Festival of Russian Culture' from 1 - 7 March 2011.

Russia is a hugely diverse and multicultural nation, home to over 170 recognised ethnic groups, many indigenous, and four world religions: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism. As of 2007 over 1,350 newspapers and magazines, 300 TV channels and 250 radio stations were printed and broadcast in over 50 minority languages. For this reason, the Russian language has two words for 'Russian': 'russky', meaning 'ethnically Russian', and 'rossiysky', meaning 'of the Russian state'. But where are the boundaries of 'russky' culture? This extract discusses the many cultures that helped to shape the origins of the Russian state:

Following the Westernising reforms of Peter the Great, this extract discusses the multicultural origins of many of the leading figures of Russian culture, from the Golden Age of Russian literature to the present:

Trinity is offering a new evening course on 'The Milestones of Russian Culture'. View a schedule of the first term here  or download the application form here'The Multicultural Culture of Russia' public lecture was delivered by Brigit McCone, who currently lectures on the 'Milestones of Russia' evening course and 19th century Russian culture course for undergraduates. Click here to see a video of Brigit discussing reasons to study Russian.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Highlights of Last Year

Highlights of the Academic Year 2010 - 2011 at the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies

The Irish Association for Russian, Central and East European Studies (IARCEES) held its annual conference at the Long Room Hub in Trinity College this April, in collaboration with the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies. This year's theme was 'The Collapse of the Soviet Union: Twenty Years On'. With a keynote speech by the renowned political analyst Professor Victor Kuvaldin of Moscow State University and the Gorbachev Foundation, the lively conference hosted 16 papers by scholars from around the world on post-Soviet society, looking at issues such as identity, language, human rights, migration, social change and multiculturalism.

'The Weather Station' at the 2011 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

The 2011 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival screened 'The Weather Station', directed by John O'Reilly of Snapshot Films, a graduate of the Trinity Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies. A major international production with a Russian cast and crew,  'The Weather Station' is "a cracking psychological thriller. Inhabited only by two ageing meteorologists and a young teenage cook, three men share the remote outpost with swirling snowstorms and an elusive yeti. When a mysterious couple arrives to explore the caves in the area, their presence brings the underlying tensions to the surface. When the wife returns alone and injured, she reveals that she killed her husband in self defence. Her confession fractures the uneasy balance between the men and sets up each of them against each other." (source: JDIFF website)
We are delighted to report that the film was a sell-out hit of the festival!
Click here to see a video of John discussing his decision to study Russian, and a wider look at cultural career opportunities opened up by Russian.

Sarah Smyth awarded the Medal of Pushkin

  On 4th November 2010, Dr. Sarah Smyth was presented with the prestigious Medal of Pushkin by the Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in the Moscow Kremlin.
  This medal is awarded annually to no more than ten recipients in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the promotion of Russian language and culture in the world.
  Dr. Smyth of the Russian & Slavonics Department is also currently Head of the Trinity School of Languages, Literatures and Culture Studies, and the IRCHSS-funded 'Our Languages' project investigating Russian speakers in Ireland.
  Dr. Smyth says,  "the award highlights a significant shift in Irish-Russian relations and bodes well for future developments.”

'Exploring the Other Europe: Eastern Europe's Past and Present' Seminar series Michaelmas Term 2010

A special series of seminars by guest lecturers exploring the history and literature of East Europe:


l8 October 2010  László Kontler (Central European University, Budapest), 'The stakes of discovery in the Enlightenment: astronomy, language and ethnography in an Arctic expedition, l768-l769'

 l5 November 2010 Julia Eichenberg (University College Dublin), 'Fighting for peace and benefits. Poles and veterans' internationalism in the interwar period'

29 November 2010 Ewa Stanczyk (Trinity College Dublin), 'Culture and Identity in the Poetry of Jerzy Harasymowicz'

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Studying Abroad

No language-learning experience is complete without study abroad. As part of the ES and BSL degrees you will spend a year studying in the country of your major language, while TSM students are required to spend a minimum of two months in their target country, and advised to take a year out for complete immersion.


The Russian department has links with universities in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Saratov to which it regularly sends students. It is also possible for students (particularly TSM) to organise study in any part of Russia they wish, with the department's support. In the past, students have chosen to study in the Russian Academy of Theatrical Arts (Moscow), the Moscow Conservatoire and the Academy of Arts (St Petersburg), but if a remote Siberian town or a placement on the Arctic circle sounds more your style then be our guest!


The Baltic capital of Tsarist Russia, 'The Venice of the North' is a sophisticated European city of statues and canals, boasting the lush imperial treasures of the Winter Palace and Petrodvorets. Still regarded by many as the cultural capital of Russia, 'Piter' is home to 140 museums and around 100 theatres. See Pushkin's 'Bronze Horseman', stroll Nevsky Prospekt in the eternal twilight of the White Nights and see works by da Vinci, Michelangelo, Monet, Matisse, Gaugin and Van Gogh at the world's largest art and culture museum, the Hermitage.
Trinity College regularly sends students to the prestigious St.Petersburg State University,while business students attend the St.Petersburg State University, School of Management.


The centre of modern Russia, the seventh largest city in the world and the city with the most billionaires, Moscow features the epic architecture of the historic Kremlin and Red Square, the Soviet Seven Sisters and the gigantic mosaics and marbles of the 'people's palaces' of the metro stations, among a profusion of churches, museums, theatres and other attractions.  A year spent here is a brilliant way to get to the heart of modern Russian life in all its dynamism and contradictions.
Trinity College has an established exchange programme with Moscow State University, Russia's leading university which offers a wealth of programmes especially geared to foreign students learning Russian, and also sends students regularly to the Gorky Literary Institute.

For a slightly more relaxed pace in one of Russia's provincial capitals, why not try Saratov, a port town on the mighty Volga river? An important cultural and scientific centre, Saratov is also home to the Radishchev art gallery and one of Russia's oldest theatres, and has a welcoming attitude to foreign students. Trinity regularly sends students to the Saratov Technical University.

A trip on the Trans-Siberian railway in the summer is a rite of passage for many students finishing their year in Russia. Travelling platzkartny is very affordable, where sharing a carriage of 30 bunks with regular travellers allows students to get to know an amazing cross-section of the different cultures and nations of modern Russia in a friendly atmosphere of storytelling, food-sharing and conversation. The epic seven-day journey from Moscow to Vladivostok can by broken up by many stops: the ancient capital of the khans of the Golden Hoarde, Kazan; the burial place of the tsars in the Ural mountains at Ekaterinburg; the breathtaking natural beauty of Lake Baikal in its cradle of snow-capped peaks, the world's oldest and deepest lake; the windswept Buddhist monastery near Ulan Ude or the Russian Jewish culture of Birobidzhan. Adventurous students may take an alternate route: through Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia, to finish in Beijing; grabbing a ferry from Vladivostok to Japan; or taking a detour through the ancient capitals of the Silk Road and the birthplace of Sufism in Central Asia (note: the above pictures are all just the Russian leg of the journey...).


As a member of the EU, Poland participates in the Erasmus programme for years abroad. Trinity College has links with a number of Polish institutions.

One of the most beautiful cities of Central Europe, Trinity Polish students are invited to spend a year at Krakow's historic Jagiellonian University where Copernicus, the inventor of modern astronomy, trained. Wander the churches and market squares of the old quarter (one of the first UNESCO heritage sites), Wawel castle or the gigantic Underground Salt Cathedral and spectacular rock-salt statuery of the 900-year-old Wieliczka salt mines. Or catch up on your culture at Poland's oldest museum, the Princes Czartoryski, or Tadeusz Kantor's world-famous avant-garde Cricot 2 theatre.


Time spent in Poland's capital at the University of Warsaw allows students to get to know the economic, political and social hub of the country. A varied city, where palaces, churches and mansions jostle with the communist architecture of the Eastern bloc and a large variety of parks and green spaces, Warsaw is the centre of Polish science, theatre, media and music, the city of Chopin, Marie Curie and the Art Deco artist Tamara de Lempicka.