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To mark 50 Years of Russian and Slavonic Studies at the University of Sheffield the following lecture was organised by the School of Languages and Cultures, The Prokhorov Centre and the Bakhtin Centre at the University of Sheffield.

Caryl Emerson

On Mikhail Bakhtin and Human Studies
(with continual reference to Moscow and Sheffield)

Professor Emerson’s lecture, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Russian and Slavonic Studies at the University of Sheffield, addresses some of the following questions:

• What human studies (and in particular the study of literary culture and value) can hope to do;
• How the thought of Mikhail Bakhtin can help us to do it;
• How scholars at Sheffield pursue a “philosophy of the human” through a Russian and Slavonic lens.

Every vital field that is perceived as failing to provide basic services or commercially viable goods is destined to be in a permanent “value crisis.” But repeating the mantra of a “crisis of the humanities” is a sorry way to approach the challenges of one’s job. The task, rather, is to argue for the absolute necessity of certain threatened virtues: serious study of world languages, human dignity as a cognitive value, organic as opposed to mechanical systems, and the empirical benefits of patience and real (deep) time.

About our speaker:

Caryl Emerson is A. Watson Armour III University Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literatures Emerita at Princeton University. She has written on the work of Mikhail Bakhtin in a number of prominent publications including her seminal book Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics (with Gary Saul Morson, 1990) and The First Hundred Years of Mikhail Bakhtin (1997) and translated texts such as Bakhtin’s Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (1984) and the collection The Dialogic Imagination (with Michael Holquist, 1981). She has also written widely on nineteenth-century Russian literature and opera, resulting in such works as The Cambridge Introduction to Russian Literature (2008) and All the Same the Words Don’t Go Away (Essays on Authors, Heroes, Aesthetics, and Stage Adaptations from the Russian Tradition) (2011).

The lecture took place at 4pm, Friday 28 October 2016
Followed by wine reception
Humanities Research Institute
Gell St. Sheffield.

An audio recording of the lecture is available here.

XVI International Bakhtin Conference

Bakhtin in the Post-Revolutionary Era
Shanghai, China 6-10 September 2017

In addition to The Complete Works of Mikhail Bakhtin (7 vols) published in Chinese in 2009, recently a new multi-volume publication on Bakhtin appeared in China (2014), featuring five volumes of classic and new research on the global afterlives of Bakhtin. A consummation of more than three decades of concerted investment in research on Bakhtin in China, the five titles include Chinese Scholars on Bakhtin; Russian Scholars on Bakhtin; Euro-American Scholars on Bakhtin; Bakhtin in Conversations; and Bakhtin in the Eyes of Contemporary Scholars. This five-volume publication confirms the special status of Bakhtin Studies in the Chinese academy, while also offering an occasion to take stock of the specific circumstances shaping the extraordinary appeal and impact of Bakhtin in China, not least by examining these in the context of similar developments elsewhere.

As the very place where Bakhtin Studies in China began in 1982, Fudan University is proud to host the 16th International Bakhtin Conference in Shanghai (September 6-10, 2017), under the aegis of its College of Foreign Languages and Literatures. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, and we are genuinely thrilled to provide a forum for reflection on the legacies of Bahktin in the post-revolutionary era. All scholars working on problems related to Bakhtin and history, language, literature, the arts, cultural studies and culture theory, philosophy, and other topics representing the broadest possible range of scholarly and artistic engagement, are warmly welcome to take part in this conference.

The relationship between a Chinese Bakhtin and other interpretations of Bakhtin in the post-revolutionary era features among the major themes we would like to explore at this conference. In addition, we have a few other priorities in mind (listed below, under a-c), though we would also welcome any other abstracts or panel proposals that deal in a focused manner with Bakhtin, the Bakhtin Circle, and the wider significance of their work.

a) Bakhtin and the history of the novel. While Bakhtin’s contribution to narratology has generated voluminous comments, his thoughts on the formal and cultural history of the novel, as articulated in The Dialogic Imagination and in other works, often go unnoticed. We encourage papers and panel proposals that study Bakhtin’s insight into the novel and its history as a literary genre, either on its own or in conjunction with works by other historians and theorists of the novel.

b) Bakhtin in comparative perspective, i.e. comparative explorations of Bakhtin and thinkers or cultural practices from other contexts. Does, for example, the carnivalesque resonate with, or differ from, the Nietzschean conception of tragedy? Or how would we re-think the notion of heteroglossia in relation to Chinese novels that employ multiple perspectives and voices? This is a wide-open area of inquiry; we hope that the proposals we receive would help us define it.

c) Bakhtin at the cutting-edge of literary and cultural studies today. Just a few examples in the form of questions: How would Bakhtin be of use in current discussions of the material turn in the humanities? How would he intervene in discussions of the anthropocene? How might we relate the “dialogic imagination” with Latour’s actor-network theory and inter-species studies undertaken by contemporary scholars? Is Bakhtin’s workd relevant to ‘world literature’ as a specific approach to literature and culture? Ultimately, can we unearth a Cultural Studies (re)turn in Bakhtin studies?

d) Bakhtinian Pedagogy and the present-day educational research, educational practice and its relationship with other types of dialogic and non-dialogic pedagogies. How would Bakhtinian concepts and views of human beings and their interaction with each other influence educational research and practice? How could one re-think and re-interpret present-day practical educational solutions and theories of learning and teaching basing on Bakhtin’s writings and interpretations of his views and concepts? How can one define and maintain the quality of Bakhtinian Dialogic Pedagogy and its relationship with measurement? How is Bakhtin’s work relevant for both educationalists and educational practitioners who use Dialogic Pedagogy today?

Drawing on the excellent contribution of previous International Bakhtin Conferences, we would also like to invite work that engages in interdisciplinary explorations of Bakhtin’s wor(l)d and its extensions into other discursive spheres. We hope to receive proposals from exhibition curators, artists, and editors who have worked on Bakhtin-related cultural projects.

Rules for Submission of Proposals

Academic scholars, artists and teachers within artistic research programs, art practitioners and curators, as well as creative writers, translators, critics, and publishers are welcome to submit their proposals for the conference, either as individual presentations or as proposals for panels.

Individual presentations should be submitted by 31 March, 2017, with names, titles, affiliations, and an abstract. Individual presentations will be peer-reviewed and the results will be communicated to the authors in due time for them to have time to apply for funding. The abstracts should not exceed 300 words. Full papers will be circulated between all the panel members one week before the conference. Send abstracts and papers to  bakhtinconference@outlook.com

Panel organizers are welcome to suggest scholarly panels, creative sessions and laboratories, and round table discussions by 31 March, 2017 at: bakhtinconference@outlook.com

Panel organizers are requested to submit a description of the panel, a list of participants with names, affiliations, and titles, and short abstracts of the presentations.

Sessions will last 1.5 hours each. The working languages of the conference are English, Russian, and Chinese. Any exceptions will only be considered in advance and in negotiation with the organizing and academic committees on an individual basis.

Each panel consists of 3 or 4 presentations and a discussion. Proposers should nominate a chair and, preferably, also a discussant. Panel organizers will peer-review the presentations they invite for their panels. However, in case of doubt as to the scholarly quality of the proposal, the academic committee will have the final say. The academic committee reserves the right to attach other presentations to an already formed panel if this fits the subject and the schedule.

Roundtable discussions should have a chair (this can be the organizer), a discussant, and 3 to 5 participants.

Presentations by artists, laboratories, and other sessions in artistic and curatorial research and practice are chosen by the proposers, but they have to meet the requirements of the schedule and take into account the mixed academic, artistic, and other audiences of the conference.

Important dates and deadlines:

Deadline for the submission of panel proposals: March 31st, 2017

Deadline for the submission of individual papers: March 31st, 2017

Notification concerning accepted papers: March-April, 2017

Conference dates: September 6th to 10th, 2017