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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 31, 2006

UI Professor To Speak On Russian Nihilism As Part Of Kirkwood Festival

Russell Valentino, a University of Iowa associate professor of Russian and of cinema and comparative literature in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will present "Three Lectures on Russian Nihilism" as part of Kirkwood Community College's spring Festival of Russian Culture.

The first lecture, titled "Russian Nihilism from Critics to Revolutionaries," will be given at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, in Cedar Hall, Room 234, of the Kirkwood Community College's main campus in Cedar Rapids. Admission to this and two other lectures by Valentino are free and open to the public, as are other festival-related activities.

In Wednesday's lecture, Valentino will discuss the origins of the phenomenon of nihilism in Russian intellectual life, which he says are bound up with the publication of Ivan Turgenev's 1862 novel "Fathers and Sons" and the intense and varied reactions to it from within the Russian intelligentsia.

"Any exploration of the concept of nihilism on Russian soil must take thorough account of this episode and its immediate aftermath," Valentino argues. "We shall do this by placing the work within a social and historical context that helps to answer such basic questions as -- What was Russian nihilism? Where did it spring from? Who were its major representatives? What - if anything -- did they stand for?"

At 8 p.m. March 1 in 234 Cedar Hall, Valentino will lecture on "Dostoevsky & Philosophical Nihilism." And at 8 p.m. April 12 in the same location he will discuss "Tolstoy: Radical Nihilist & Anti-Nihilist."

The Kirkwood festival, titled "The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming," runs Jan. 30 through April 29, 2006 and celebrates the country's rich culture through films, lectures, musical performances and cultural connections. The events are supported by Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A full schedule of events is available online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,