Conceptualizing the Human in Slavic and Eurasian Culture

An Interdisciplinary Conference at Princeton University

About the Conference

Conceptualizing the Human is an interdisciplinary conference dedicated to the changing concept of the human in Slavic and Eurasian culture. While many scholars have recently devoted much attention to the “crisis in the humanities,” our conference will turn to the many ways in which “the human” has been perceived, re-imagined, interrogated, and critiqued.

The 1917 revolution induced a radical re-evaluation of what it meant to be human among Russian intellectuals. In the Soviet Union, writers like Platonov, Bulgakov, and Zamiatin envisioned how the human being might transform itself under changing social conditions. New technologies influenced Gastev’s and Vertov’s close scrutiny of the mechanics of human action. In the first Czechoslovak Republic, Karel Čapek posed the question of what it means to be human in physical and cognitive terms in his science-fiction prose, as well as in terms of ethical judgment and the pursuit of truth in his mid-1930s trilogy. Earlier, thinkers such as Fyodorov, Chernyshevsky, Dostoevsky, and the Decembrists incorporated fantasies or critiques of the “new man” into their thought, while contemporary writers like Sorokin and Pelevin have used images of physical violence to challenge traditional notions of human dignity.

Bringing together students and scholars from a range of disciplines and national focuses, “Conceptualizing the Human” seeks to advance a conversation addressing the humanities in their very essence.

Conference Format

The goal of the conference is to provide graduate students with the chance to present their work to senior scholars in the field and to receive as much constructive feedback as possible. All papers will be made available prior to the conference through the conference website. At the conference each presenter will be given 5-10 minutes to introduce his or her paper, followed by commentary by the panel discussant and open discussion.


This Conference is Sponsored by the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Center for Human Values, Council of the Humanities, Department of Art and Archaeology, Department of Comparative Literature, Interdisciplinary Program in the Humanities, Lewis Center, Program in European Cultural Studies, Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies



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