Of Politics and Pandemics: Songs of a Russian Immigrant

Monday, November 23, 2020 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm

Writing in the vibrant voice of “A Russian Immigrant” and employing a rich variety of poetic forms, award-winning author and Boston College professor Maxim D. Shrayer offers thirty-six interconnected poems about the impact of election-year politics and COVID-19 on American society. Through a combination of biting satire and piercing lyricism, Of Politics and Pandemics delivers a translingual poetic manifesto of despair, hope, love, and loss.

Maxim D. Shrayer, born and raised in Moscow, is a bilingual author, scholar and translator. A Professor of Russian, English, and Jewish Studies at Boston College, Shrayer serves as Director of the Project on Russian and Eurasian Jewry at Harvard’s Davis Center. Shrayer authored and edited over fifteen books in English and Russian, among them the internationally acclaimed memoirs Leaving Russia: A Jewish Story and Waiting for America: A Story of Emigration, the double biography Bunin and Nabokov: A History of Rivalry, the Holocaust study “I SAW IT,” and the travelogue With or without You. Shrayer edited and co-translated four books of fiction by his father, the Jewish-Russian writer David Shrayer-Petrov. Maxim D. Shrayer won a 2007 National Jewish Book Award, and in 2012 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Shrayer’s Voices of Jewish-Russian Literature was published in 2018. His most recent book is A Russian Immigrant: Three Novellas. Shrayer's Of Politics and Pandemics: Songs of a Russian Immigrant is forthcoming. Visit Shrayer’s website at www.shrayer.com.

Sergei Kan was born in Moscow and studied at the History Department of Moscow State University between 1970 and 1973. He and his family emigrated to the United States in 1974. That same year he enrolled in Boston University’s undergraduate University Professors Program, receiving a B.A. in anthropology and religion in 1976. He then pursued graduate studies at the University of Chicago, receiving his Ph.D. in anthropology in 1982. The focus of Kan’s ethnographic and archival research for his dissertation was on the pre-Christian as well as Russian Orthodox mortuary and memorial rituals of the Tlingit, the indigenous people of southeastern Alaska. He is the author and editor of several books on Tlingit and Alaska Native history and culture, the impact of Orthodox missionization on Native Alaskans, Native American ethnology, and the anthropology of death and dying, including Symbolic Immortality: the Tlingit Potlatch of the Nineteenth Century (1989), Memory Eternal: Tlingit Culture and Russian Orthodox Christianity Through Two Centuries (1999) and Death in the Early Twenty-First Century: Authority, Innovation, and Mortuary Rites (2017). His research on the history of Russian and American anthropology resulted in the book Lev Shternberg: Anthropologist, Russian Socialist, Jewish Activist (2009) and numerous articles. Kan is currently working on an intellectual biography of Aleksandr A. Goldenweiser (1880–1940), a major figure in American anthropology, born in Russia to a prominent Jewish family.


Maxim D. Shrayer, Director, Project on Russian and Eurasian Jewry, Davis Center; Professor of Russian, English, and Jewish Studies, Boston College
Moderator: Sergei Kan, Professor of Anthropology, Dartmouth College

Sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

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