Northern Vermont University Hosts Solzhenitsyn Conference Sept. 7-8

U.S., Chinese and Russian Scholars to Present

LYNDON, VERMONT — Northern Vermont University will host a conference on the writings, impact and ways to teach the literature of the late Russian author and dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Vermont resident for 18 years.

The Reading Solzhenitsyn conference at NVU-Lyndon is being organized by Alexandre Strokanov, who teaches world history at the Lyndon campus and directs the campus Institute of Russian Language, History and Culture. The event will bring together Solzhenitsyn scholars from China, Russia and the U.S. to share their research on the Nobel Prize-winning writer. The conference also will be a Vermont Agency of Education professional development event for English language arts and social studies teachers.       

“We want to remind people about a great Russian writer who spent years of his life in exile in Vermont and found here a temporary home…a person considered by many a classical writer in the same line as Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and others Russia gave to the world,” Strokanov says. “For the whole Western world, he’s one of the major authors of the 20th century.”

The conference is believed to be the only such event planned in the U.S. to commemorate the centennial of Solzhenitsyn’s birth Dec. 11, 1918. The multidisciplinary conference, supported by a grant from the Moscow-based Russkiy Mir Foundation, will include linguists, literature specialists, historians, political scientists, a theologian, philosophers and psychologists.

On Sept. 7, the event, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Alexander Twilight Theatre, is open to the public. The conference fee of $75 includes lunch. The day will feature talks by NVU-Lyndon literature professors and others on methods to teach Solzhenitsyn’s work; his time in Cavendish, Vermont, from 1976-1994; Russian history in his writings and additional topics; and discussions by visiting scholars.        

Conference presenters will include:

  • Richard Tempest of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champlain
  • George Krasnow of the Russian-American Goodwill Association
  • Natalia Kovtun of Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University in Russia
  • Svetlana Kozyreva of the Perm City Department of Education in Russia
  • Igor Kondakov of the Russian State University for Humanities
  • Wang Jiaxing of Nanjing University in China
  • Li Xinmei of Fudan University in China 

Sept. 8, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., will include more discussions by Solzhenitsyn experts — which are free and open to the public — and, for conference presenters, a trip to Cavendish. “For many researchers from other parts of the world, it will be their first visit to the place where Solzhenitsyn spent his exile,” Strokanov says.

In Vermont, “He wanted to devote all his time to writing,” Strokanov says. “He called his time in Vermont the most productive time in his life.” 

Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia in 1994 and died there in 2008.

To register for the conference, visit NorthernVermont.edu/Solzhenitsyn. For more information, email Alexandre.Strokanov@NorthernVermont.edu or call 802.249.7587.