Panel Discussion to Explore Russian Feminist Punk-Rock Collective Pussy Riot

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: Noelle.Lemoine@williams.edu

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., February 12, 2013—A panel discussion at Williams College will explore the Russian Feminist Punk-Rock Collective Pussy Riot on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The panel members are Eliot Borenstein of New York University, Ksenia Gorbenko of Penn State, Mark Lipovetsky of the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Jennifer Suchland of the Ohio State University. The panel will take place at 4 p.m. in Griffin Hall, room 3. The event is free and open to the public.

Pussy Riot was founded in August 2011 and has a variable membership of about 11 women.  The group stages unauthorized, provocative guerilla performances, which take place in unusual public locations. The lyrical themes of the collective’s music include feminism, LGBTQ rights, and opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In February 2012, five group members staged a performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The protest resulted in the arrest and later conviction of three of the group members on charges of hooliganism. The trial and sentence of the three members have attracted much criticism, especially in the West. The case has been adopted by human rights groups including Amnesty International, and it has gained the support of a wide range of musicians such as Madonna, Sting, and Yoko Ono. The panel discussion will explore the public protests that brought the Pussy Riot members to prominence and will look into the ideology behind the punk-rock group and the repercussions of their guerilla performances in Russia and around the world.

Borenstein is a professor and chair of the department of Russian & Slavic studies at New York University. He works primarily on 20th and 21st century Russian literature and culture. He received his B.A. from Oberlin College and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Gorbenko is a research associate on the University of Pennsylvania team at the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality Improvement at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She received her a diploma from Vologda State Pedagogical University in Vologda, Russia, and her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Lipovetsky is a professor in Russian studies in the department of Germanic and Slavic languages and literatures at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He is a Russian literary, film, and cultural critic and the author of five books and numerous articles. He received his B.A. and Ph.D. from Ural State University in Russia. Suchland is an assistant professor in the departments of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and Slavic studies at the Ohio State University. She studies human rights, law, and political discourses, with a specific interest in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas in 2000 and 2005.

The event is sponsored by the departments of Theatre; Anthropology & Sociology; Romance Languages; History; Leadership Studies; Legal Studies; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; German; and Russian. The event is also supported by the Oakley Center and Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, the Gaudino Fund, and the Lecture Committee.

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