During an unusually cold week in late February/early March of 2015, internationally renowned poet Polina Barskova visited Dickinson to read her poetry in both Russian and English. While on campus she also held workshops with students in several Russian Department classes, included "Workshop in Translation," a senior seminar, and "Russia and the West," a 100-level comparative civilizations course that investigates Russia's historically complicated relationship with various conceptions of "Western culture." Students in the course on translation worked together with Barskova to translate a cycle of her poetry from Russian into English, discussing the difficulty of translating historical references, Soviet terminology, and cultural allusions for an English-speaking audience.
Polina Barskova is a faculty member at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. She received her B.A. from St. Petersburg State University, after which she emigrated to the U.S. and completed her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. Her scholarly publications include articles on Vladimir Nabokov, the Bakhtin brothers, early Soviet film, and the aestheticization of historical trauma. Barskova is also the author of eight books of poetry in Russian and several volumes of her work have appeared in English translation. Her poetry is rich with historical references and linguistic and temporal play, touching on many of the themes she addresses in her scholarly research on the art and culture of the Siege of Leningrad.