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Tulane University Professor and Guggenheim Fellow William Craft Brumfield, photographer and leading authority on Russian architecture in the West, takes a truly remarkable look at Russia’s architecture and landmarks.
World War 1 and the Bolshevik Revolution changed Russia — and the world — forever. There to capture Russia’s transformation was the brilliant, innovative photographer Sergey Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky. Criss-crossing the Russian Empire by train from 1909 to 1915, lugging his cumbersome glass plates with him, and eventually escaping an increasingly chaotic and violent Russian in 1918, it’s miraculous that nearly 2,000 of his glass negatives survived. The US Library of Congress acquired Prokudin-Gorsky’s collection in 1948, and it has since become a touchstone for understanding pre-revolutionary Russia.
William Brumfield began working with Prokudin-Gorsky’s photographs in 1985, curating their first public exhibition in the US. Brumfield spent decades traversing Russia and photographing buildings and landscapes in their various stages of disintegration or restoration. In his 2020 book, Journeys through the Russian Empire, he juxtaposes Prokudin-Gorsky’s images against those he took of the same buildings and areas. Through this five-lecture course, Brumfield examines the intersections between his own photography and that of Prokudin-Gorsky, assesses the state of preservation of Russia’s architectural heritage and calls into question the nostalgic assumptions of those who see Prokudin-Gorsky’s images as the recovery of the lost past of an idyllic, pre-Soviet Russia.
Drawing on Brumfield’s deep knowledge of Russia and its history, the course poses the questions “why did anything survive?” and “why do we need to know this today?” through these lectures:
October 25: The cultural legacy of the Russian heartland: why did anything survive?
November 1: Down the Volga River
November 8: Across the Urals and into Siberia: the fate of the Romanovs
November 15: Central Asia and the Great Game
November 22: The mystery of the Russian North: from forest shrine to Gulag and back
Purchase Journeys through the Russian Empire
This program will take place online on October, 25, November 1, 8, 15 and 22 from 3-4 pm ET. Sessions will be recorded for later viewing by those who register.
Online programs:An access link will be emailed to you after purchase
In-person programs:Adults and children ages 12+ must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to attend our in-person programs.
Masks must be worn at all times by everyone over the age of 2.
William Craft Brumfield is Professor of Slavic Studies, Sizeler Professor of Jewish Studies at Tulane University. Brumfield, who began photographing Russia in 1970, is the foremost authority in the West on Russian architecture. He is the author, editor, and photographer of numerous books, including Architecture at the End of the Earth: Photographing the Russian North and Lost Russia: Photographing the Ruins of Russian Architecture. Brumfield is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship and was a Fellow at the National Humanities Center. In 2002 he was el ...
William Craft Brumfield is Professor of Slavic Studies, Sizeler Professor of Jewish Studies at Tulane University. Brumfield, who began photographing Russia in 1970, is the foremost authority in the West on Russian architecture. He is the author, editor, and photographer of numerous books, including Architecture at the End of the Earth: Photographing the Russian North and Lost Russia: Photographing the Ruins of Russian Architecture. Brumfield is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship and was a Fellow at the National Humanities Center. In 2002 he was elected to the State Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences, and in 2006 he was elected to the Russian Academy of Fine Arts. He is also the 2014 recipient of the D. S. Likhachev Prize for Outstanding Contributions to the Preservation of the Cultural Heritage of Russia. In 2019 he was awarded the Russian state Order of Friendship medal — the highest decoration of the Russian Federation given to foreign nationals — for his study and promotion of Russia’s cultural legacy. Brumfield’s photographs of Russian architecture have been exhibited at numerous galleries and museums and are part of the Image Collections at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.