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DePaul remembers the good and bad of the Russian Revolution

Hector Cervantes

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DePaul students and staff came together to remember the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution  Wednesday, Nov. 9 at the Humanities center.

In November of 1917, Bolshevik workers and soldiers successfully overthrew the provisional government that had been established in Russia and dismantled the Tsarist autocracy and established a communist government under the Soviet Union.

The Russian Revolution was brutally violent. Over the course of the uprising and the instability that followed, nine million people died from violence and famine.

Images of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov and Karl Marx greeted people in the entrance where people took selfies with their portraits.

“The Russian Revolution is a big anniversary,” director of the DePaul Humanities Center Howard Peter Steeves said. “It is also an important moment in history and I think we have a lot to learn from it right now.”

Russian music, a live orchestra quartet and guest speakers were present to honor the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

Communist party supporters marched in Moscow on the 100th anniversary of the revolution.
(Photo courtesy of The Associated Press)

Helena Goscilo, the chair of the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures at  Ohio State University spoke about new women’s identity. Also, artist, writer and curator at the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry Zachary Cahill spoke about the status of The Parapsychology Initiative.

“I am happy since this day marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. There was good spirit in the room, and I liked how in the foyer we had our exhibition of posters that really come together,” Steeves said.

Steeves noted how numerous people asked questions at this event, and he was pleased that many students came out.

“I hope it is impacting DePaul students,” Steeves said. “They are the future and that was what Russia was all about on who was going to take charge in the future and not just give us a better version of what we already have but think radically.”

The Humanities Center has been planning this over the last year. The first person Steeves contacted was William Nickell from the University of Chicago who is a cultural historian specializing in mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century Russia.

Nickell has been working on a new project relating to Sochi Olympics from 2013-2014, documenting its transformation from a model Soviet city into an elite resort and Olympic site.

Nickell also published a few books called “The Death of Tolstoy. Russia on the Eve, Astapovo Station, 1910” as well as “A Companion to Tolstoy’s War and Peace”.

Steeves and Nickell  invited speakers and took months to coordinate this event.

“Planning was very collaborative,” Nickell said. “We had several meetings where we sat all around a table and tried to think about what would be the best way where we commemorate the revolution.”

Freshman Kay Smith attended this event for an extra credit assignment for her philosophy class and enjoyed listening to the orchestra quartet.

“I would highly recommend that people should have came to this event because it was an informational session and I feel a lot of students can learn something new. I walked out of the presentations knowing more about why the Russian Revolution is important to celebrate,” Smith said.

Steeves wanted to make people in this event participate. At the end of each presentation, people were allowed to ask questions.

Near the end of the event, a toast was given for the special occasion.

“I wanted students to participate in the event by partaking in the toast and have students enjoy some of the candy,” Steeves said.

Nickell wanted people to be aware that the revolution is a celebration.

“I think the problem of how to remember the revolution is an interesting one. People tend to only think about the bad in a revolution and we wanted to take the moment to think about the amazing things that happened after the revolution,” Nickell said.

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DePaul remembers the good and bad of the Russian Revolution