“We seem to camp in our houses, we behave like strangers in our families; and in our cities we appear to be nomads…” Nineteenth-century Russian philosopher Petr Chaadaev’s startling assessment of Russian identity is a powerful metaphor for what he and others perceived as Russia's profound lack of national history and definition. His statement has reverberated in Russian literature and thought since its scandalous publication in his First Philosophical Letter in 1836. In this talk, Dr. Kleespies will examine how a discourse of uncertain national identity is explicitly articulated in symbolic terms of waywardness, nomadism, and errancy in Chaadaev’s Letter and consider the following questions: What are the origins and nuances of the imagery of errancy and itinerancy found in this text? How do both the persona of the author and his work lie at the center of a discourse in which wandering serves as a key metaphor for Russian national identity in the nineteenth century and beyond?
The Humanities Brown Bag Series features informal talks by the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere’s (CHPS) Rothman Summer Fellows. Faculty fellows will speak for 20-30 minutes in length about their summer work, leaving ample time for questions and discussion. Please feel free to bring your own lunch, and the CHPS will provide coffee and dessert.
Center for the Humanities
and the Public Sphere
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
200 Walker Hall
P.O. Box 118030
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611