September 23, 2002

Contact: Sarah Ray
Posted: September 23, 2002

MIDDLEBURY, VT - Mikhail N. Epstein, author of 15 books on Russian cultural theory and a new fictional work "Cries in the New Wilderness: From the Files of the Moscow Institute of Atheism," will speak at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1, on the Middlebury College campus. Epstein's talk, "The Varieties of Post-Atheist Experience: Minimal Religion and Sectarian Consciousness in Late Soviet Russia," will include readings from his new book. The event will take place in the conference room in the Robert A. Jones House on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125), and is free and open to the public.

Epstein is a leading figure in Russian-American literary and cultural criticism. He is the author of 15 books and hundreds of articles on Russian literature, religion and philosophy. Born in Moscow in 1950, he immigrated to the United States in 1990 and is presently the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Cultural Theory and Russian Literature at Emory University. His recent works include "After the Future: Paradoxes of Postmodernism and Contemporary Russian Culture," and "Transcultural Experiments: Russian and American Models of Creative Communication," co-written with Ellen Berry. Epstein is the recipient of several prizes, including the Liberty Prize, which is awarded to a prominent Russian cultural figure who has made an outstanding contribution to American society.

Epstein's new book, "Cries in the New Wilderness," has recently been published in English by Paul Dry Books in a translation by Eve Adler, professor of classics at Middlebury College. A unique "comedy of ideas," it is based on Epstein's experience of the new religious movements that sprang up in the latter days of the theoretically atheist Soviet regime. According to Adler, it illuminates the spiritual condition of the Soviet Union and also suggests unsuspected affinities between Russian and American culture. In the mirror of Soviet society, Americans recognize their own enthusiasm for alternative spiritual experience, their worship of technology, and their own domestic doomsday cults.

The talk is cosponsored by two College organizations-the Center for International Affairs and Atwater Commons. For more information, contact Charlotte Tate at the Middlebury College Center for International Affairs at or 802-443-5795.