Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


Art Deco: A Literary Style?

02 June 2021, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Art Deco: A Literary Style

Maria Rubins, Professor in Russian and Comparative Literature, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, delivers her Inaugural Lecture: 'Art Deco: A Literary Style?'.

This event is free.

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UCL Joint Faculties Office

About the lecture:

Despite its name, Art Deco was much more than a style in applied arts and architecture of the Jazz Age. Indeed, it could be seen as the first truly global, comprehensive cultural phenomenon, informing nearly all spheres of life, including social practices, fashion, cinematography, music, visual arts, ideological preferences, gender roles, and automobile design. Could literature have escaped its pervasive influence?

In her lecture, Professor Maria Rubins will explore Art Deco fiction and its distinctive narrative strategies, genres and thematic repertoire, shaped by new conceptions of commercial success. She will discuss interwar writers’ ironic and ambivalent response to the ethos of hedonism, consumerism, the cult of speed, and the apparent dominance of cinema over other artistic media. Finally, she will consider why no subsequent style has achieved the same degree of cultural supremacy.

With a welcome and introduction from Professor Diane P. Koenker, UCL SSEES Director and Professor of Russian and Soviet History, and response from Professor David Bethea, Professor Emeritus in Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Read on for a sneak preview: 60 seconds with... Maria Rubins

About the speaker:

Maria Rubins is Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature at University College London. She received her B.A. from Saint-Petersburg State University (Russia) and Ph.D. from Brown University (USA). Before joining the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, she taught at Russian State Institute of Performing Arts, Brown University, Rice University and the University of Georgia. She has been the recipient of grants from Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Slavic-Eurasian Research Center of the University of Hokkaido, and Kennan Institute in Washington. Her research interests include modernism, exile and diaspora, bilingual writing, Russian-French cultural relations, and the interaction between Hebrew, Arabic and Russophone literatures in the geopolitical context of the Middle East.

Professor Rubins is the author of several books, including Crossroad of Arts, Crossroad of Cultures: Ecphrasis in Russian and French Poetry (2000) and Russian Montparnasse: Transnational Writing in Interwar Paris (2015), and over one hundred articles and book chapters. She has edited many volumes for academic and general audiences, most recently Redefining Russian Literary Diaspora, 1920-2020 (2021). She is also a translator of fiction from English and French into Russian, including books by Elizabeth Gaskell, Judith Gautier, Arnaud Delalande and Irène Némirovsky.

Inaugural Lecture Series 2020/21

This lecture is part of the 2020/21 series for UCL's Faculty of Arts & Humanities and Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences. The series provides an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our professors who are undertaking research and scholarship of international significance, and offers an insight into the strength and vitality of the arts, humanities and social sciences at UCL.

All our lectures are free to attend and open to all. You don't have to be a UCL staff member or student to come along.

For information on previous and upcoming lectures please visit: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/social-historical-sciences/news-events/inaugural-lectures 


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