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Report by Alexey Vdovin at Humboldt University of Berlin

On November 11th,  Alexey Vdovin, Associate Professor at the School of Philology presented a report ‘Between Hegel and George Sand: How Russian Critics and Writers Invented Peasants in the 19th Century Fiction’ at the Institute for Slavic Studies. 

He presented the results of a study into the image of peasants in Russian literature in the 1840-1860s. Vdovin focused on the emergence and existence of ideas about the impossibility of adequately representing peasant consciousness in literature in Russian and European aesthetics.

Using an article by P.V. Annenkov about the stories and novels of vernacular life written in 1854, Vdovin reconstructed some European sources of the critic’s aesthetic ideas and criticism, bringing them to the theoretical constructs of George Sand in her peasant stories of the 1840s and to Hegel's aesthetics.

In the second part of the report, the researcher showed how the strict aesthetic laws of Hegel and Annenkov could be broken down in practice. Vdovin analyzed the famous Turgenev story ‘Khor and Kalinich’ in which the peasants and their consciousness are consistently shifted from low to high culture. The report was presented as part of the Aurora Erasmus Mundus internship programme.