Ukraine in new electronic resources

A tranche of funding from the UKRI and other sources earlier this year has allowed Cambridge University Libraries to buy large amounts of electronic material that had been flagged for purchase but had not previously been feasible for us to buy.  This blog post looks at Ukraine in some of these resources (but you can also see a summary of all the resources available here:

Banner of issue one of the Kharkiv anarchist periodical Khlieb i volia

There are three obvious candidates to search for Ukraine and Ukrainian material in amongst these new purchases:

  • Russian Anarchist periodicals of the early 20th century (Brill)
  • Soviet Woman Digital Archive (1945-1991) (East View)
  • Soviet Cinema Online. Archival Documents from RGALI, 1923-1935 (Brill)

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Waiting for Swan Lake : the war against Ukraine and awaiting the end of Putin

“Every day we wake up and hope that they will be showing Swan Lake on TV.”

The ICC arrest warrant issued yesterday for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian children’s rights commissioner, for the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children may make some Russians tentatively more hopeful that Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake will appear on their screens at some point.  While the UK is alerted to serious news by non-stop all-main-channels coverage complete with news alert banners and presenters in sombre dress, Russia has traditionally been alerted to significant changes by the replacement of ordinary programmes by ballet. Continue reading

Marianne Werefkin: a pioneering modernist

Self-portrait on the cover of S950.b.201.5000

I was interested to hear about the Making Modernism exhibition which opened at the Royal Academy in November and continues until 12 February. It is described as “the first major UK exhibition devoted to pioneering women working in Germany in the early 1900s” and highlights four women in particular. Three of these, Kӓthe Kollwitz, Paula Modersohn-Becker and Gabriele Münter, were familiar names to me and indeed have been mentioned previously in our blog post on German Expressionism in Leicester. But I had not heard of Marianne Werefkin (1860-1938) and she seemed worthy of further exploration.

She was born into Russian nobility, and as a young woman her artistic talents were recognised and encouraged, with lessons from the renowned artist Ilya Repin. In the 1890s she moved to Munich with her partner Alexej von Jawlensky who was also an artist. At this time she was probably the more skilled painter of the pair but chose to allow her art to take a back seat for a time in order to support his development. She embraced a more expressionist style of painting in the early 1900s and was one of the founders of the Neue Künstlervereinigung München which was a forerunner of the important Der Blaue Reiter movement. Continue reading

The war on Russian writers against the war on Ukraine

A blurry Leonid Parfenov at an event in London in 2011

Next week will see the launch of collaborative work to bring some of the UL’s Ukrainian material together into a pop-up exhibition.  This week, we will focus briefly again on the effect Russia’s war on Ukraine is having on its own country, this time through the prism of the leaked list of authors that the Moscow Dom Knigi bookshop network have apparently banned their staff from putting on display (a full ban is thankfully not in place); an article in Russian about this can be found here.  The ban largely relates to the authors’ appearance on the list of ‘foreign agents’ (inoagenty) this blog has mentioned before, which ultimately boils down to their stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Mogilizatsiia and Pugacheva

The news about Russia’s war against Ukraine gives us each week new names and/or new vocabulary.  This week, we’ve heard a lot in Russian about mobilizat︠s︡ii︠a︡ (mobilisation) but some of us might also have seen the rise of the term mogilizat︠s︡ii︠a︡, a grimly wry portmanteau of the words mobilisation and – mogila (the grave).  The name for a call-up paper is simply povestka, a word related to “telling” (eg povestʹ means a story).  Judging by news coming from Russia, povestki are arriving in huge numbers and not only to those within the parameters Putin set out that; the scale of mobilisation is far greater than the president will openly admit.

The cover of ‘Alla Pugacheva’ by Alekseĭ Beli︠a︡kov (C202.d.4981)

In terms of names, Alla Pugacheva will either have been abundantly known to you already or also a new thing this week.  Pugacheva was an absolutely huge music star in Soviet times and has remained so in modern Russia (she gets her own two chapters in David MacFadyen’s Red Stars : Personality and the Soviet Popular Song, 1955-1991; you can find other Cambridge library books, not all of them, admittedly, highly academic, about her here).  Earlier this week, Pugacheva wrote an open letter to the Russian authorities requesting that she be added to the list of inoagenty (from inostrannye agenty – foreign agents) to which her husband, Maksim Galkin, a consistent opponent of the “special military operation”, had just been added.  Pugacheva’s dramatic stand against the war may have come over 6 months after Russia invaded Ukraine, but it was pretty seismic.  Until, that is, Putin outdid her with his address about “partial” mobilisation, about the referenda that (properly stage-managed) will allow him to claim parts of Ukraine under Russian control as parts of sovereign Russia, and about the possibility of using a nuclear bomb (no ‘blef‘, he said – no bluff)…

We should end on a light note.  Alla Pugacheva’s husband, Maksim Galkin, became famous as a comedian, singer, and much more around the year 2000.  He won my delighted respect in 2002 when, in response to the rather self-admiring singer Nikolaĭ Baskov’s release of an album called ‘I’m 25!’, Galkin released a rather less earnest album named ‘Well, I’m 26!’  Not many images can be found of the latter, sadly, but here is Baskov’s.

Mel Bach