Humanities on Demand

Jul 17 2014

John Ward: Teach Me Now To Listen, a Retrospective on Seamus Heaney


In this episode we join John Ward at the Jackson Memorial Library in Tenant’s Harbor for “Teach Me Now to Listen: A Retrospective on Seamus Heaney.” This talk was held on   April 9, 2014 as a Taste of the Humanities event.

Scholar John Ward, formerly of Centre College and Kenyon College, discusses the Irish poet whose death in 2013 was a blow to poets and literature lovers alike. He explores Heaney’s ranging subjects and styles, from personal and familial to political and cultural.

“He’s gone, and I feel an obligation to keep his voice and music alive to the degree that we can,” Ward says.

May 22 2014

Raymond Miller: An “Unhappy Wanderer” on the Streets of St. Petersburg: Raskolnikov as Superfluous Man

This talk was delivered on March 8th as part of Winter Weekend 2014, Crime and Punishment. In it, Raymond Miller discusses the phenomenon of the superfluous man in Russian literature, and the ways in which Crime and Punishment’s Raskolnikov does and does not fit with his predecessors in that category.

Raymond Miller is recently retired from Bowdoin College, where he taught Russian language and literature for 30 years. He has lectured and written extensively on Pan-Slavism and the history of Romanticism in East Central Europe. His current projects include an intellectual biography of the Slovene scholar and Pan-Slav ideologue Jernej Kopitar and Dostoevsky’s relationship to his early inspiration, Nikolai Gogol. He holds a BA in Russian literature from Harvard and is president of the Society for Slovene Studies.

Apr 28 2014

Julie Buckler: Dostoevsky’s St. Petersburg

Julie Buckler is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature at Harvard University. She specializes in the cultural heritage of Imperial Russia. Buckler is author of The Literacy Lorgnette: Attending Opera in Imperial Russia and Mapping St. Petersburg: Imperial Text and Cityscape. Her new book project is titled Cultural Properties: The Afterlife of the Imperial in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia.

 In this talk, delivered on March 8 as part of Winter Weekend 2014, Buckler takes us on a tour through the historical and the literary city of St. Petersburg. She begins with its construction in the early 1700s, traces the forces that influenced its growth, and takes the listener through the centuries with both the city’s critics and its defenders.

“I’m very happy to share with you some of the history of St. Petersburg,” Buckler says, “which is neither a backdrop nor a setting for Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, but the medium of the novel—the air. The kind of petri dish, if you will, in which a creature like Raskolnikov grows.”



Apr 10 2014

Gregory Freeze: Dostoevsky and Russian Orthodoxy

In this talk, delivered on March 8th as part of Winter Weekend 2014, Gregory Freeze presents Dostoevsky and Russian Orthodoxy. Freeze is a professor of history at Brandeis, where he teaches courses on 19th and 20th-century Russian and German history.

He is currently preparing two volumes, one a study of Church and Believers in Imperial Russia, 1750-1917, and a sequel for the Yale Series on the Annals of Communism, Bolsheviks and Believers, 1917-1941.

Freeze discusses the background of religious belief that surrounded Dostoevsky’s world, even when it does not appear directly in his novels.  According to Freeze, “If you’re going to study the Russian people, that means you study the Russian Church.” 

Mar 28 2014

William Todd: Literature as a Profession in Dostoevsky’s Russia

Welcome to another of the Maine Humanities Council’s Humanities on Demand podcasts. Here, Professor William Todd gives a talk during Winter Weekend 2014 entitled Literature as a Profession in Dostoevsky’s Russia.

Todd is Harry Tuchman Levin Professor of Literature at Harvard University, where he has taught Russian and Comparative Literature since 1988. His publications include The Familiar Letter as a Literary Genre in the Age of Pushkin, Fiction and Society in the Age of Pushkin, and Literature and Society in Imperial Russia.

Though the “professional” makes few positive appearances in Dostoevsky’s work, Todd argues that Dostoevsky himself “became a consummate professional in the course of his writing career. In so doing he not only participated in the transformation of Russian literary culture, but also took part in one of the salient phenomena of modernization, of post emancipation Russian society: the gradual rise of the professions.”

Mar 19 2014

Bruce Bourque: The Swordfish Hunters

Dr. Bruce Bourque is the chief archaeologist and curator of ethnography at the Maine State Museum. He has published many books on Maine’s native cultures, the most recent of which is The Swordfish Hunters: The History and Ecology of an Ancient American Sea People.  He is also a professor of Anthropology at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

This talk was held on November 13, 2014 as part of the Portland Public Library’s Brown Bag Lecture series.




Please be aware that the content in these audio files does not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Maine Humanities Council or any organization with which the Maine Humanities Council is affiliated. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the podcast do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.