SUNY Potsdam Welcomes NEH Distinguished Visiting Professor Boris Lanin

NEH Visiting Professor Dr. Boris Lanin to Deliver Lectures on 'Colors of Soviet and Post-Soviet Life' During Residency at SUNY Potsdam

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POTSDAM, NY (09/07/2018) SUNY Potsdam will welcome National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Visiting Professor Dr. Boris Lanin this semester. Lanin is a professor and the head of literature at the Russian Academy of Education in Moscow, and will teach in the College's Department of Modern Languages during his visit.

Lanin is set to deliver three public lectures on the theme, "A Russian Rainbow: Various Colors of Soviet and Post-Soviet Life," during his stay.

All lectures will be offered on Thursdays, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., in the Raymond Hall eighth floor lounge. The schedule is as follows:

  • Sept. 20: "Creating a New Literary Canon and Reading Culture in Post-Soviet Russia"
  • Oct. 18: "Chimps, Chess and Stalin's New Socialist Man"
  • Nov. 15: "Zamyatin and Orwell: Founding Fathers of Modern Russian Anti-Utopian Writing"

About the visiting scholar:

Dr. Boris Lanin is a well-known expert in Russian-Jewish literature, and has written important books and articles on the Russian-Jewish writers Grossman, Khazanov, Krymov, Daniel and many others. He was the first to publish a book on the "third wave" Russian emigre writers, including important research on Gorenshtein (the "Jewish Dostoevsky," who died in Berlin in 2002), Brodsky, Solzhenitsyn, and many other prominent writers whose works were prohibited in Soviet times. Lanin introduced Russian literary studies to the term "anti-utopia," which hadn't been in wide academic use until his doctoral dissertation. Since then, some 40 dissertations and books in this field have appeared. His books and articles explore great numbers of literary works that have never been treated in Slavic studies before. Lanin's works have been published in many languages, including Russian, Polish, Serbian, Ukrainian, Japanese, Korean, English, French and German. His comparative research of Slavic utopian and anti-utopian literature widens horizons, and opens a new perspective for generations of scholars. His book changed the understanding of the 20th century Russian literary process, helped scholars to understand the hidden mechanisms of totalitarian literature, and directly influenced the teaching of literature to students in Russia and abroad.

Lanin's wide knowledge in both modern theories of education and Russian literature of the 19th to 21st centuries became a foundation for his new national curriculum in literature, which was officially accepted by the State Academy of Education. This topic is passionately debated in post-Soviet Russian society, and Lanin was publicly attacked in Russian TV and other media for his "too modernized" approach toward literary studies. He has also been confronted with political accusations from the highest level of Russian political hierarchy. His curriculum introduced a number of once-banned writers (such as Solzhenitsyn, Zamyatin, Brodsky, Pasternak, Orwell, Golding and many others) to state schools, and has thus literally shaped the way how a generation of young Russians think about their literary heritage. It has also paved the way for the transformation of literary education in those countries that are on their way towards a more open society. Lanin's textbooks have become exemplary for the adaptation of modern methods in literary studies.

Lanin has been awarded prestigious grants and fellowships from universities and research institutes around the world, including Stanford University; the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Kennan Institute in Washington, D.C.; the Institute for Advanced Studies in Paris; Waseda University, the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science in Kobe and Saitama-Tokyo, and the Slavic Research Center at Hokkaido University, all in Japan; Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, and the Russian Institute for Advanced Studies in Moscow. He has been invited to give guest lectures at universities and research centers across the U.S., and in Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Argentina, Israel and Russia.

SUNY Potsdam's NEH Faculty Development Program has supported interdisciplinary study and scholarly exchange in the humanities for more than 40 years. To learn more about research and faculty development resources at SUNY Potsdam, visit

About SUNY Potsdam:

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America's first 50 colleges -- and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit