Taylor Lecture 2020
Professor Jonathan Bolton (Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University) will be giving the 2020 Taylor lecture, on the subject of Literature and Politics in the Twentieth Century.
Pathways of the Political Novel in Eastern Europe
How have novels from Russia and Eastern Europe contributed to our sense of what a “political novel” should look like? Professor Bolton’s lecture will investigate the feedback mechanisms between East and West that shaped our sensibilities about the possibilities for the political novel during the Cold War. He will consider some of the classic political novels from the Communist bloc (including works by Milan Kundera and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn), while also looking at “missed encounters” with novels by Ludvík Vaculík, Zdena Salivarová, and Lenka Procházková that did not acquire the same emblematic status. How did novels enter into discussions of human rights and repression, and what role did the novel play in shaping our understanding of the forms of political freedom during the Cold War?
Jonathan Bolton is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University, where he teaches Czech and Central European culture, as well as courses on political dissent, the political novel, samizdat and underground culture, and the Cold War. His research crosses back and forth between literary studies and history, and his book Worlds of Dissent: Charter 77, the Plastic People of the Universe, and Czech Culture under Communism (2012) combines approaches from both disciplines to offer a new approach to the dissident movements in East Central Europe under Communism. He has also edited and translated In the Puppet Gardens: Selected Poems, 1963–2005 (2007) by the Czech poet Ivan Wernisch, and his translations of Czech prose and poetry have appeared in Dalkey Archive’s Best European Fiction 2018, as well as in Circumference: Poetry in Translation, BODY: Poetry, Prose, Word, and elsewhere.