Guest speaker, Arkady Kovelman (Professor of Talmud at the Moscow State University)
The Brezhnev period—usually labeled as the Stagnation period—witnessed, paradoxically, the popularity and flourishing of the humanities in the Soviet Union in which the interpretation of culture effectively served the role of a counter-culture and through which humanities scholars used “doublespeak” to “expound” upon classical texts. “Philology” (which united literary criticism with history and philosophy) mutated into secular religion. In the Post-Soviet era, the scholars who began the new centers and departments of Jewish Studies in Russian universities were primarily Classicists and Hebraists who had been educated outside the borders of traditional Jewish learning, but they combined their newly acquired qualifications with the subversive legacy of the humanities as it had developed in the Soviet era. That legacy included not just perverted “Marxism” but a synthesis of neo-Kantianism andneo-Hegelianism, which makes Russian Jewish Studies unique in understanding the development of Jewish civilization.
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Sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Jewish Studies Program Kutchin Seminar Series, the Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations department, and the Slavic Languages and Literatures department.
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