Molly Thomasy Blasing, "Snapshots of the Soul: Photo-Poetic Encounters in Modern Russian Culture" (Cornell UP, 2021)


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Snapshots of the Soul: Photo-Poetic Encounters in Modern Russian Culture (Cornell UP, 2021) considers how photography has shaped Russian poetry from the early twentieth century to the present day. Drawing on theories of the lyric and the elegy, the social history of technology, and little-known archival materials, Molly Thomasy Blasing offers close readings of poems by Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetaeva, Joseph Brodsky, and Bella Akhmadulina, as well as by the late and post-Soviet poets Andrei Sen-Sen'kov, Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, and Kirill Medvedev, to understand their fascination with the visual language, representational power, and metaphorical possibilities offered by the camera and the photographic image.

Within the context of long-standing anxieties about the threat that visual media pose to literary culture, Blasing finds that these poets were attracted to the affinities and tensions that exist between the lyric or elegy and the snapshot. Snapshots of the Soul reveals that at the core of each poet's approach to writing the photograph is the urge to demonstrate the superior ability of poetic language to capture and convey human experience.

Molly T. Blasing holds degrees in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University (AB, 2002) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (MA, 2006; PHD, 2014). After teaching at Florida State University, Wellesley College, and Oberlin College, she joined the faculty of the University of Kentucky as Assistant Professor of Russian Studies in 2014 and was promoted to Associate Professor in July 2021.

Steven Seegel is Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at The University of Texas at Austin.

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