(Or Gasparov’s case against Bakhtin)

Friday, March 6th, 10 AM-NOON, East Pyne 245

Discussions of literary scholarship often reveal anxieties over the scientific validity of methods used in the field, as well as the ethical import of their findings. Such questions come into particularly stark relief in the recent polemic of the late Russian philologist Mikhail Gasparov against the scholarly legacy of Mikhail Bakhtin. By emphasizing the optimistic values of dialogue and co-creativity with the authors of great literature, Bakhtin offers an appealing alternative to the drab view of literary studies as a hermetic discipline, and his work has exerted a powerful influence on scholars of literature and culture across much of the world. For his part, Gasparov distinguished himself as one of the great Russian literary scholars of the twentieth century, and his writings on methodology offer not only a searing criticism of Bakhtin, but an impassioned defense of a traditional philological approach that challenges many current orthodoxies of U.S. universities (e.g. interdisciplinarity).

This seminar led by Caryl Emerson and Michael Wachtel will take this conflict between two giants of Russian literary scholarship as a point of departure for examining larger questions of the tasks of the literary scholar and the future of the field. To attend the seminar. please RSVP to Participants will be asked to read a few short articles in preparation.gasparov, c bakhtin - young