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When, in the 1650s, the Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi set out to describe Sofia, the capital of the largest and most important of the Ottoman Empire’s European provinces, he devoted five pages – roughly half of the text – to the city’s relationship with the natural environment. In Evliya’s Sofia, built fabric and nature were engaged in a dynamic interplay, most clearly expressed in the city’s historic center which was dominated by a thermal spring and the numerous facilities and customs related to the use of the spring’s healing waters. Problematizing the narrative of ruin and decay that underpins the national discourse on the Ottoman period in Sofia’s history, this talk will explore the intersection of natural and man-made space, the area where environmental and social forces met to negotiate the physical contours of urban life and the cultural meanings of place.
Stefan Peychev is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at the University of Illinois. He is a historian of the Ottoman Empire, its successor states and the wider world, with research and teaching interests in environmental history, urban history, social history, travel, scientific exploration, and cultural encounter. He will graduate in May 2019.
Refreshments will be served.
Traditionally, Russian symbolic geography has been governed by two major binary oppositions: ‘the provinces vs. the capital’ and ‘Russia vs. the West.’ I explore the semantic field in post-Soviet culture, where these binaries intersect, and the ‘provinces vs. the capital’ opposition emerges as a thematic and ideological alternative to Russia’s perpetually problematic relationship with the West. The emphasis on the provinces in the discourse of contemporary nationalism functions to redirect discussions of Russia’s national identity: from its loss of imperial might and prestige, and psychologically unsatisfying opposition to the West, to a hermetic national model, where the provinces replace the West – not as a superior Other, but as one more ambiguously defined.
Lyudmila Parts (PhD, Columbia University, 2002) is an Associate Professor of Russian in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at McGill University (Montreal). She is the author of In Search of the True Russia. The Provinces in Contemporary Nationalist Discourse. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2018; The Chekhovian Intertext: Dialogue with a Classic” (Ohio State UP, 2008) and the editor of The Russian 20th Century Short Story: A Critical Companion (Academic Studies Press, 2009). Prof. Parts’ research interests include post-Soviet culture, genre theory, and cultural representations of nationalism. She has published articles on Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Tolstaya, Petrushevskaya, Pelevin, and, more recently, on the provincial myth and national identity. Her current research project is on the Russian travelogue.
Journey to the Steppes with Sinfonia for our 35th season ender! Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote his Symphony No. 1 in G minor, “Winter Dreams,” just after he accepted a position at the Moscow Conservatory—it is the composer’s earliest notable work. Sinfonia da Camera will play the American premiere of Dilorom Saidaminova’s Double Concerto for Violin and Piano with concertmaster Igor Kalnin playing the solo violin part and principal keyboardist Rochelle Sennet on piano. Sinfonia will end its 35th season with Alexander Borodin’s energetic Polovtsian Dances.
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