Guest speaker: Elizabeth Blake (St. Louis University)
Dr. Elizabeth Blake is Assistant Professor of Russian at St. Louis University and the author of Dostoevsky and the Catholic Underground (Northwestern UP, 2014). Her monograph focuses on the literary, social, and cultural movements linked to lived Catholicism in Dostoevsky's major works, including Notes from House of the Dead, Crime and Punishment, Demons, The Brothers Karamazov, and Diary of a Writer. This lecture will explore how Dostoevsky draws on iconic Catholic historical and literary figures (e.g., Napoleon Bonaparte, Galileo Galilei, Don Quixote, and various inquisitors) that appeared in famous writings and agitational literature of his day to create ideals for his Russian characters. Connecting the rediscovery of Aristotle to the Renaissance, he describes a broadening of human thought in an age of faith (with Shakespeare, Raphael, and the Reformation) alongside the age of discovery (of America and the revolutions of heavenly bodies). At the same time, because Dostoevsky recognizes that in his age Catholics continued to brandish the sword, the lecture will also outline his real concerns about Jesuit intrigue, Polish revolutionaries, and papal infallibility.