Scholar to discuss the politics of the arts in Stalin’s Russia on Sept. 19

GRINNELL, Iowa — Joan Neuberger, a 1975 Grinnell College graduate and professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, will give the Scholars’ Convocation Lecture at Grinnell College on Thursday, Sept. 19. The lecture is free and open to the public.

WHAT:
The lecture is titled “This Thing of Darkness: Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible in Stalin’s Russia.” Neuberger studies modern Russian culture in social and political context, with a focus on the politics of the arts. She is the author of an eclectic range of publications and her new book, published earlier this year by Cornell University Press, has the same title as her lecture. 

Neuberger will discuss Russia’s foremost filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein and his creation of the unfinished trilogy “Ivan the Terrible.” Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin compelled Eisenstein to produce the three-part epic to glorify the Russian past and justify state terror. It was a dangerous assignment in a dictatorship that sent many authors to forced-labor camps.

Although controversial, Part I of “Ivan the Terrible” won the Stalin Prize – the highest honor given by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Stalin went on to personally ban the release of Part II and Eisenstein died before he finished Part III.

“In this master work about a master filmmaker, Neuberger shines a light on all three,” wrote C.P. Lesley in a book review. “In doing so she highlights the many decisions any author must make while balancing historical accuracy against dramatic potential and character motivation against a verifiable past.” 

WHEN:         
11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19

WHERE:
Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, 1115 Eighth Ave., Grinnell

WHO:
Joan Neuberger teaches classes about modern Russia, 19th century Europe, film and visual culture, as well as undergraduate and graduate courses in public and digital history. She also is editor of the history department’s public history website Not Even Past  and cohost of the history podcast series “15 Minute History.”

Neuberger also is the author of numerous publications, including “Hooliganism: Crime and Culture in St. Petersburg, 1900-1914)” and “Ivan the Terrible: The Film Companion” and co-author of “Europe and the Making of Modernity, 1815-1914.” In addition, she is coeditor of “Imitations of Life: Melodrama in Russia” and “Picturing Russia: Explorations in Visual Culture,” “Everyday Life in Russian History: Quotidian Studies in Honor of Daniel Kaiser” and “The Flying Carpet: Studies on Eisenstein in Honor of Naum Kleiman.” 

DETAILS:    
Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Information about parking and accessibility is available on the college’s website: www.grinnell.edu. Room 101 of the Rosenfield Center is equipped with an induction hearing loop system, which enables individuals with hearing aids set to T-Coil to hear the program. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or calendar@grinnell.edu.

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Information about parking and accessibility is available on the college’s website: www.grinnell.edu. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or calendar@grinnell.edu.

Minors under the age 18 need to be accompanied by an adult. Grinnell College is not responsible for supervision of minors on campus.

Joan Neuberger, class of 1975

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