Ilia Efimovich Repin (1844 1930) Volga Boatmen (1870 1873)

Where Gogol Got Souls: Slavery and Society in 19th-Century Russia

One key fact of Russian history is mostly absent from our Western take on the country: enslaved people (known as “souls” in Gogol’s time) made up the vast majority of the Russian population right up until their Emancipation in 1861. Stemming from the legacy of a slave trade that took root in the 10th century, enslaved people were the most lucrative export of the Slavic lands.

In large measure, Russian society was later structured around this fundamental economic fact. Gogol’s Dead Souls is both a product and a critique of these social and economic structures, and understanding it requires a basic familiarity with what Russian society looked like in his time. Join Joe Peschio, Associate Professor of Russian at UW-Milwaukee, to learn the basics needed to understand Gogol’s masterpiece and its resonance in Russian culture.

DATE: Tuesday, June 18, 2024
TIME: 7:00 – 8:15 p.m.
LOCATION: Jewish Museum Milwaukee
COST: Members $5 | Nonmembers $10*

*Nonmembers can purchase an add-on admission ticket ($5) to view the exhibit before the program. Add-on admission tickets are valid for the day of the program from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Member admission is always free!

Joe Peschio received his PhD in Russian Literature from University of Michigan in 2004 and soon thereafter came to UW-Milwaukee, where he is currently Associate Professor of Russian. Peschio has published two books and numerous articles on Russian literary and cultural history of the early 19th century and is the editor of the bilingual scholarly journal Pushkin Review: Пушкинский вестник. His current research explores the early history of the Russian censorship system in the 1820s by studying manuscripts in the censors’ archives.

Repin, Ilya “Barge Haulers on the Volga or Burlaki,” 1870–1873 oil-on-canvas (Russian Virtual Public Museum)

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