Carmel Institute of Russian Culture & History; Susan Carmel Lerhman, Founder.

Dostoevsky's Literary Partnership with Editor Mikhail Katkov Virtual Book Talk

Editing Turgenev Dostoevsky & Tolstoy book cover

To honor the bicentennial of Fyodor Dostoevsky's birth, the Carmel Institute invites you to a book talk with Dr. Susanne Fusso, Marcus L. Taft Professor of Modern Languages and Professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at Wesleyan University

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 4-5 pm EDT (GMT-4)

Moderated by Dr. Anton Fedyashin, Director, Carmel Institute

To register for the event, please RSVP by Noon on Monday, 19 April 2021 in an email to, including your name and organizational (university or employee) information. The link to join the book talk will be sent to you approximately 24 hours prior to the event.

Susanne Fusso is Marcus L. Taft Professor of Modern Languages and Professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at Wesleyan University. She is a specialist in nineteenth-century Russian prose, especially Gogol and Dostoevsky. She is the author of Designing Dead Souls: An Anatomy of Disorder in Gogol (Stanford University Press, 1993) and Discovering Sexuality in Dostoevsky (Northwestern University Press, 2006). Her most recent book is Editing Turgenev, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy: Mikhail Katkov and the Great Russian Novel (NIU Press, 2017). Her most recent translations are of Sergey Gandlevsky's autobiographical novel Trepanation of the Skull (NIU Press, 2014), his novel Illegible (NIU Press, 2019), and the short stories of Nikolai Gogol, The Nose and Other Stories (Columbia University Press, 2020). She has also published edited volumes on Gogol, Karolina Pavlova, and Russian writers' views of America, and a translation of the memoirs and hunting stories of Prince Vladimir Sergeevich Trubetskoi. She teaches nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian prose and poetry as well as Russian language.

The Image of Christ in Dostoevsky's Russia Virtual Book Talk

Givens and Book Cover

To honor the bicentennial of Fyodor Dostoevsky's birth, the Carmel Institute invites you to a book talk with Dr. John Givens, Professor of Russian, University of Rochester:

Friday, 19 March 2021 4-5 pm EDT (GMT-4)

Moderated by Dr. Anton Fedyashin, Director, Carmel Institute

To register for the event, please RSVP by Noon on Thursday, 18 March 2021 in an email to, including your name and organizational (university or employee) information. The link to join the book talk will be sent to you approximately 24 hours prior to the event.

John Givens is professor of Russian and chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Rochester. He is the author of The Image of Christ in Russian Literature: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Bulgakov, Pasternak; Prodigal Son: Vasilii Shukshin in Soviet Russian Culture; co-translator of Vasily Shukshin's Stories from a Siberian Village; and former editor of Russian Studies in Literature.

Black Skin in the Red Land: African American Experiences in Stalin's Russia Virtual Lecture

Russian teapot

Wednesday, March 10 at 6:30pm

The Hillwood Museum is hosting a virtual lecture from Kimberley St. Julian-Varnon and has made it free for students to attend.

The 1920s and 1930s represented one of the most repressive periods for African Americans in the United States because the threat of racial violence was coupled with a lack of economic and educational opportunities. Yet, on the other side of the world, the Soviet Union was going through rapid industrialization and forced collectivization to create a modernized, socialist society. It is at this unique time in Soviet history that dozens of African Americans traveled to the land of the Soviets to pursue the opportunities they were denied at home in the United States. In her talk, Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon will tell the stories of Black workers and artists who sought a better life without the specter of racial terror. She will also discuss why the African American presence in the Soviet Union at this juncture was a critical development in both Soviet and African American history.

Please see the museum's page for this event for more information and to register!

Journey into a Lost World Students learn about life in Soviet Jewish communities, January 2021

Cartoon of Russian village.

In January 2021, the Carmel Institute purchased a bloc of student tickets for the virtual American premier of Katya Ustinova’s documentary film Shtetlers (Штетл, 2020), which was part of Russian Film Week in New York City.

Shtetlers explores life of small Jewish towns in the former Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. Called shtetls, these towns were once home to the largest Jewish population in the world. Only a few survived the Holocaust, and those that did were all located in the territory of modern Ukraine and Moldova. Hidden from the world outside behind the Iron Curtain, traditional Jewish life continued for decades after it disappeared everywhere else. The tight-knit communities supported themselves by providing goods and services to their non-Jewish neighbors. Judaism, the Yiddish language and folklore, ritualized cooking and elaborate craftsmanship were practiced, treasured, and passed through the generations until very recently. 

The film follows nine people, most now scattered around the world, who once belonged to the Jewish and non-Jewish shtetl communities. Their memories are a farewell to the vanished world of the shtetl, a melting pot of cultures that many nations once called their home. 

Katia Ustinova, a New York-based filmmaker with a degree in Social Documentary from the School of Visual Arts in NYC, grew up in Moscow in what she calls a “literary family.” While her playwright grandfather was Jewish, her family did not engage with their Jewish identity much until her father, Sergei Ustinov, a businessman and art collector, founded the Museum of Jewish History in Moscow in 2012. Ms. Ustinova participated in a live Q&A after the screening.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky: a Life in Letters, Memoirs, and Criticism Virtual Book Talk

"Fyodor Dostoyevsky: A Life in Letters, Memoirs, and Criticism" book cover

To honor the bicentennial of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's birth, the Carmel institute explores the great writer with a book talk by Dr. Thomas Marullo, February 2021.

Moderated by Dr. Anton Fedyashin, Director, Carmel Institute of Russian Culture and History.

About the author:

Professor of Russian
PhD 1975, Cornell University; MBA 1989, Indiana University at South Bend

Beyond numerous articles, papers, and reviews, Professor Marullo is the author of Ivan Bunin: Russian Requiem (1885-1920) (1993); Ivan Bunin: From the Other Shore (1920-1933) (1995); If You see the Buddha: Studies in the Fiction of Ivan Bunin (1998); Cursed Days: Diary of a Revolution (1998); Ivan Bunin: Twilight of Emigre Russia (1934-1953) (2002); The Liberation of Tolstoy: A Tale of Two Writers (2003); About Chekhov: The Unfinished Symphony (2007); Petersburg: The Physiology of a City (2009); Heroine Abuse: Dostoevsky’s “Netochka Nezvanova” and Poetics of Codependency (2015); Fyodor Dostoevsky: In the Beginning (1821-1845): A Life in Letters, Memoirs, and Criticism (2016); and Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Gathering Storm (1846-1847): A Life in Letters, Memoirs, and Criticism (2020).

The Desert of Forbidden Art Virtual Film Screening, October 2020.

The Desert of Forbidden Art poster, with an image of Igor Savitsky and an artistic montage of Soviet avant garde art image fragments

A true story to save cultural treasures...

The Desert of Forbidden Art is a beautiful, poignant, award-winning documentary telling the remarkable story of how Igor Savitsky created one of the world's great collections of Russian avant garde art. The New York Times describes it as: "A gorgeous documentary. The filmmakers let the art do the talking, with loving, lingering shots of the brightly colored works." Filmmakers Amanda Pope and Chavdar Georgiev will introduce the film and be available for questions and comments after the screening. Zukhra Kasimova, historian of the museum he created, will also be available to answer questions after the film. 

Introduction and post-film Q&A with filmmakers Amanda Pope and Chavdar Georgiev. Zukhra Kasimova, the historian of the museum Savitsky created, will also join the post-film Q&A.

An Evening of Hot Jazz Igor Butman and the Moscow Jazz Orchestra concert

Hot Jazz with Igor Butman and the Moscow Jazz Orchestra

On 3 February 2020, the Carmel Institute for Russian Culture and History invited university students to enjoy an evening with Igor Butman and his Moscow Jazz Orchestra. Described as "an outfit of virtuosos" by DownBeat Magazine -- the jazz world's publication of note -- the 16-piece Moscow Jazz Orchestra is led by Russia's most popular and esteemed jazzman, saxophonist Igor Butman. Butman's collaborations read like a Who's Who of jazz superstars, including appearances and work with Wynton Marsalis, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Grover Washington, Jr., and Lionel Hampton. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton once called Butman "the greatest living jazz saxophone player, who happens to be a Russian."

Spring 2021 Events

  • Virtual Film Screening
    Russian Film Week virtual screening
    Q&A with Director 26 January
    24 January-26 January

    Virtual Book Talk
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky: a Life in Letters, Memoirs, and Criticism
    Professor Thomas Gaiton Marullo, author
    Zoom webinar
    16 February 2021, 4 pm EST (UTC-5)

  • Virtual Book Talk
    The Image of Christ in Russian LIterature
    Professor John Givens, author
    Zoom webinar
    19 March 2021, 4 pm EDT (UTC-4)

  • Virtual Book Talk
    Dostoevsky's Literary Partnership with Editor Mikhail Katkov
    Professor Susanne Fusso, author
    Zoom webinar
    20 April 2021, 4 pm EDT (UTC-4)

AU Summer Course 2019 "Pushkin's Russia"

The Carmel Institute sponsored students to attend Professor Anton Fedyashin's AU Summer Course. The course took ten students to St. Petersburg, Moscow and other Russian locations to explore Russian culture in person. Students walked the Russian capitals, visited museums, and attended cultural events to experience Russian culture first-hand.

Students combined readings with their museum and art gallery visits and concerts in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and beyond. They explored the formation of Russia's national identity through Alexander Pushkin's poetry and prose in the context of the Napoleonic Wars and the era of Romanticism.

An Evening with Fashion and Friends

Symposium at Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens

On 30 March 2018, guests explored a captivating picture of diplomatic life in early nineteenth-century St. Petersburg through forty-five portraits from an album assembled by the family of politician and statesman Henry Middleton. Carmel Institute Director Anton Fedyashin provided the historical and political context of American-Russian relations during Henry Middleton's post as American Minister to Russia in the 1820s and 30s and Dr. Rosalind Blakesley placed the portraits assembled in the Middleton album in the history of Russian portraiture during the era.

Lexo Toradze Performance and Lecture

World-Renowned pianist at American University

In Katzen Arts Center on March 22, 2018, world-renowned pianist Mr. Lexo Toradze performed and lectured about the revolutionary changes in Russian and Soviet music after 1917 -- the experimentalism of Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich, the evolution of Soviet jazz, and the role of music during the Second World War. The audience also enjoyed a question-and-answer discussion with the artist after his performance.

The Russian Experiment


The Carmel Institute partnered with the PostClassical Ensemble to present a concert-symposium with world-renowned pianist Vladimir Feltsman, October 19, 2017, at AU's Katzen Arts Center.

See more event highlights at Carmel Institute News.