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Russian without Borders, October 29, 2021 12pm-1:30pm

Performing Friendship in Xinjiang: Sino-Soviet Cinematic Collaboration and the Socialist Silk Road, 1957–58
Berkeley Slavic Colloquium, September 20, 2021, 4-6pm PST
On Zoom:


Edward Tyerman, UC Berkeley


This talk reconstructs the history of a Sino-Soviet documentary film collaboration from 1957–58, named Under Ancient Desert Skies / Almaty–Lanzhou. The film recorded an expedition along the route of a planned railway link from Almaty in Kazakhstan, through Xinjiang, to Lanzhou in western China. At the height of the Sino-Soviet “honeymoon” in the 1950s, this 2,800km “Road of Friendship” was celebrated as a revival of the ancient Silk Road for an age of industrialized, international socialism. Foregrounding the film’s aesthetic affirmation of its own collaborative ideals, this reconstruction of the project reveals the aspirations and limitations of the performance of Sino-Soviet friendship in Xinjiang, a border region historically contested between the Russian and Chinese states.




DEPARTMENT COLLOQUIA (Department members will be provided with Zoom information prior to each lecture):

“Interpreting the South Slavic Traditional Voice: Linguistics, Folklore, and the Creativity of Performance”
Lecture by Professor Emerita Ronelle Alexander (UC Berkeley)
Monday, February 1, 12 pm (noon)

“News Media, Poetry, World Form”
Lecture by Professor Jacob Edmond (University of Otago, New Zealand)
Monday, March 8, 4pm

“The Rabbit and the Duck: Stanislavsky and Meyerhold in the 1930s”
Lecture by Senior Lecturer Anna Muza (UC Berkeley)
Monday, March 15, 4pm

“Personal Experience Narratives as a Folk Genre”
Lecture by Assistant Professor Jessica Merrill (Columbia University)
Monday, April 5, 4pm

Please also save the potential dates for the collective reading of Evgenii Shvarts’s “Golyi Korol’.” They are 4 pm on Mondays January 25, February 8, February 22, and March 1.


Townsend Center for the Humanities Summer Media:

Berkeley Book Chats #5, Anne Nesbet

Springdale Book Cover

In her book of historical fiction for younger readers (ages 10-14) The Orphan Band of Springdale, Anne Nesbet (Slavic Languages & Literatures and Film & Media) tells the story of 11-year-old Gusta. It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother in Springdale, Maine, after her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country. As Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school, and she finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a burning family secret.

Nesbet’s previous novel for children, Cloud and Wallfish, won the 2016 California Book Award gold medal in juvenile fiction. A scholar of Russian and Soviet film, she is the author of Savage Junctures: Sergei Eisenstein and the Shape of Thinking.

Nesbet is joined by Kristen Whissel (Film & Media) and Whissel’s daughter, Isla Hager.


Unless otherwise noted, all talks take place at 4pm in Dwinelle B-4.

March 2 Mikhail Shishkin (Russian author),
A Bilingual Reading and Conversation
Geballe Room at the Townsend Center (220 Stephens Hall)

April Ilya Kukulin (Higher School of Economics/Moscow)

FALL 2019

Unless otherwise noted, all talks take place at 4pm in Dwinelle B-4.

September 9 Stuart Goldberg (Georgia Institute of Technology), “The Sincere Voice, or How Sincerity is Written and Read in Russian (and not only Russian) Poetry”

September 30 Maxim Osipov (Tarusa/Moscow), Reading from Rock, Paper, Scissors, and Other Stories together with Sabrina Jaszi. Geballe Room @ the Townsend Center (220 Stephens Hall)

October 7 Screening: The Mysterious Wall (Tainstvennaia Stena, 1967)

October 14 Olga Matich (UC Berkeley), “Cities of the Dead: The Moscow and Paris Cemeteries”

October 21 Theater Panel, Presenters: Myrna Douzjian and Robyn Jensen; Respondents: Anna Muza and Edward Tyerman

October 29, October 31, November 5 Moshe Taub (Hebrew University) The Taubman Lectures: “The Cultural Legacy of the Pre-Ashkenazic Jews in Eastern Europe” (Easton Hall)

November 18 Screening: Lolita

November 22 Mini-Conference on Moscow Conceptualists, 1:30-6:30pm, Geballe Room @ the Townsend Center (220 Stephens Hall)

December 2 Igor Gulin (Moscow), Late-Soviet Cinema: Beyond Propoganda and Subversion