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Past Maya Brin Residents

Learn about past Maya Brin residents.

Past Residents

2017-2018: Lev Lurie

The Maya Brin Residency Program is pleased to welcome the Russian historian, journalist, radio host, and the author of many books about Russian history Lev Lurie, who will be visiting the University of Maryland, College Park, from October 9 to October 20, 2017.

The theme for this year's residency is “Russia: Looking Backward and Forward.” Lev Lurie will participate in a roundtable on October 13 and visit classes with lectures. All events are free to students and the public.

Lurie's website:

Read articles by Lurie (in English):

  • Anna Akhmatova: the Poet Who Buried Stalin   
  • Old Ladoga

Read a few chapters from a book by Andrew Meier: “Black Earth: a Journey through Russia after the Fall”

Watch YouTube video (in Russian):

2016-2017: Valera and Natasha Cherkashin

“…Valera and Natasha work like sculptors: on an armature of historical structure, they drape layers of contemporary references. In a phrase: their images reveal the transparency of time…”–Steven Mansbach, Professor of the History of Twentieth-Century Art, University of Maryland, College Park

The Maya Brin Residency Program is pleased to welcome the Russian artists Valera and Natasha Cherkashin, who will be visiting the University of Maryland, College Park, from October 16 to October 30, 2016.

The theme for this year's residency is “Art into Public Spaces.” The Cherkashins will participate in a one-day conference on October 28, will visit classes with lectures and conduct workshops on creating collages and installations. All events are free to students and the public.

The Cherkashins’ website is

Read articles about Cherkashins:

Read a book by the Cherkashins: “Happenings, Actions, Art Performances 1962-2016”

2015-2016: Veniamin Smekhov

Veniamin Smekhov is a Russian actor, director and writer known for his work with the influential Taganka Theatre in Moscow as well as documentary and curatorial work for Russian television.

Under the direction of Yuri Lyubimov at the Taganka Theater, Smekhov performed in numerous pieces, including Brecht’s “The Good Person of Szechwan” and an adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov's novel “The Master and Margarita.” In film, he is famous for playing Athos in a Russian version of “The Three Musketeers.”

Russian speakers can learn more about Veniamin Smekhov through the documentary series “The Golden Age of Taganka,” which features reflections on the actor’s career with the Taganka Theater. In the following clips, Smekhov discusses his roles in “Hamlet” and “Master and Margarita.”

Smekhov’s screenwriting credits include “Twelve Months of Tango” (2011), “The Movie Star Between the Sickle and the Hammer” (2013), “Vladimir Tendriakov: Portrait Against Time” (2013) and “The Last Poet of the Great War” (2015). In 2009-2012, Smekhov was the host and curator of several popular cultural programs such as “Temnoe Delo” and “Talents and Admirers.”

Smekhov has also directed numerous operas for both the stage and television, including Bizet-Constant’s “The Tragedy of Carmen,” Tchaikovsky’s “Queen of Spades” and Verdi’s “Falstaff.”

In 2010, Smekhov’s collected work appeared in three volumes: “That Taganka,” “Ali Baba and Others”, and “In Life it Does not Happen.” He is also the author of “Theatre of my Memory” (2001), “The Golden Age of Taganka” (2012) and “I Come to You With Verses” (2014), a collection of poems, songs and skits composed in the Taganka Theater.

2014-2015: Masha Gessen

The Maya Brin Residency program is thrilled to be hosting Masha Gessen, the prominent Russian-American journalist and LGBT activist, from April 20-25, 2015. Gessen is the author of “Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot” (2014) and the national bestseller “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin” (2012). She recently edited a book called “Gay Propaganda: Russian Love Stories.” Her newest book, which will appear on April 7, 2015, is “The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy.”

Gessen's work has appeared in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Slate and the Guardian, and she frequently appears on American TV and radio. Her visit to the School of Languages, Literatures, and cultures will include a one-day conference on Freedom of Speech in Russia (Friday, April 24) and a public lecture on "Putin's War Against the West" (Wednesday, April 22). Gessen’s visit will also include visits to classes, a seminar, and an event at McKeldin Library, "Speaking of Books: A Conversation with Masha Gessen" (Monday, April 20).

2013-2014: Dmitry Bykov


Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the theme of the Soviet past has taken on new relevance. The authoritarian rule of Vladimir Putin, the return of a resource-based economy, the resurgence of repressive politics in relation to any group or individual deemed disloyal and the failure to reform the inhumane penal system together produce a striking sense of déjà vu and stimulate critical reflection about the Soviet legacy.
Dmitry Bykov, a journalist, poet, critic, radio personality, novelist and one of the few figures in contemporary Russia who can be called a public intellectual, is visiting campus as our first Maya Brin Resident. His strong opinions on politics, history, literature, film, education, and mass media resonate across a broad spectrum of reform-minded society and galvanize debates on a variety of topics. At the same time, his mischievously artistic personality is expressed in fizzy poetic improvisations in Moscow’s intellectual clubs. Bykov’s recent political satires in verse, “Poet and Citizen,” weave together civic traditions of pre revolutionary Russian intelligentsia and postmodernist cosmopolitan creativity. His book on Boris Pasternak, the author of “Dr. Zhivago,” is one of the longest best selling biographies to have come out in Russia in the last decade. In his fiction and journalism, Bykov promotes an original version of Russian history as a “cyclical matrix” – very persistent, but not unbreakable. In several public appearances, he will shed light on the question of the Soviet legacy in Russia today.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
4:30-6:00 pm
Francis Scott Key Hall, Room 0106
In Russian
Dmitry Bykov will read aloud from his poetry.
Friday, November 1, 2013
10:00 am – 4:00 pm
St. Mary’s Hall, Multipurpose Room
In English
Roundtable with Dmitry Bykov: How can the Soviet legacy in contemporary Russia be conceptualized?
List of Speakers
David Brandenberger, University of Richmond
Kate Brown, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Sarah Cameron, University of Maryland, College Park
Michael David-Fox, Georgetown University
Mikhail Dolbilov, University of Maryland, College Park
Serguei A. Oushakine, Princeton University
Kevin M. F. Platt, University of Pennsylvania
Peter Rollberg, George Washington University
Catherine Schuler, University of Maryland, College Park
Friday, November 1, 2013
5:00-7:00 pm
McKeldin Library Special Events Room (rm 6137)
Reception to Follow
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