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Svetlana Boym: Exile and Imagination - A film by Judith Weschler

  • New York Institute for the Humanities 20 Cooper Square New York, NY, 10003 United States (map)
Svetlana Boym

Svetlana Boym

On Friday, December 8th please join us for “Svetlana Boym: Exile and Imagination”: A film by Judith Wechsler. The screening will be followed by a discussion between Wechsler and Anne Lounsbery, Associate Professor of Russian Literature and Chair of the Department of Russian & Slavic Studies at New York University. This event is co-sponsored by the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and the NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia.

This one hour documentary film is about the life and work of Svetlana Boym, literary and cultural critic. In 1980, age 21, Svetlana left the USSR for the US. After graduate studies at Boston University and Harvard, she became the Carl Hugo Reisinger Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature at Harvard University.

A brilliant writer of ambitious scope and great imagination, combining personal memoir with philosophical essay and historical analysis, she explored motifs of exile, nostalgia, the diasporic imagination and different forms of freedom in Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Mandelstahm, Akhmatova, Nabokov, Brodsky, and many others, in a total of six books, with two more about to appear.

Through videos of her lectures and interviews, together with photographs since her childhood, and her own photographs, and photomontages, we convey this remarkable person and her scholarly, critical, and artistic contributions. Interviews with family, teachers, colleagues, students and friends provide different perspectives. Much of the text of the film is drawn from Svetlana Boym’s writings and lectures.

Exuberant, ironic and witty, Boym was a charismatic critic and teacher until her untimely death from cancer, at age of 56.

The film is distributed by the Circulating Film Library of the Museum of Modern Art, NY

Judith Wechsler is an art historian and filmmaker.   She has written and directed 28 films, predominantly on art, for the Louvre, with the Comèdie francaise, for the Metropolitan Museum and others. Her most recent films include “The Passages of Walter Benjamin” and “Aby Warburg: Exile and Imagination”. Wechsler is the National Endowment for the Humanities Professor in art history Emerita at Tufts University, taught for many years at MIT and was visiting professor at Harvard, The Ecole normale supèrieure in Paris and The Hebrew University, Jerusalem. She is the author of A Human Comedy, Physiognomy and Caricature in 19th Century Paris, and books on Cézanne and Daumier as well as numerous articles and essays on 19th and 20th century art. Wechsler was a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, at Bogliasco, and at the van Leer Foundation in Jerusalem. The French government named her a Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres.