Dr Georgina Barker, University of Edinburgh
Postdoctoral Fellow June - December 2018
Project: Elena Shvarts and Princess Dashkova
My research explores Russian responses to ancient Greek and Roman history, literature, and culture. I am especially interested in how classical antiquity shapes contemporary Russian society – and vice versa.
My PhD research, generously supported by the Wolfson Foundation, investigated the phenomenon of classical reception during the decline and fall of the Soviet Union. It focused on three Russian poets writing from 1963 to the present, Elena Shvarts, Il’ia Kutik, and Polina Barskova. I found that they use classical antiquity to estrange Soviet/Russian reality, facilitating veiled dissidence and escapism, and making the ancient world an alter ego of Russia.
At IASH I am researching Elena Shvarts’ reception of Princess Dashkova, the first woman Director of the Russian Academy of Science, whom Edinburgh hosted between 1776 and 1782. Shvarts’ poem ‘Princess Dashkova’s Old Age’ gives an unconventional view of the second most prominent woman of the Russian Enlightenment; it will be staged as part of my ‘Dashkova Through Time’ event at the Princess Dashkova Russian Centre. I am also writing my monograph USSR Meets SPQR: Classical Antiquity in the Poetry of Elena Shvarts.