Priscilla H. Hunt, Ph.D.

Research Interests: My work examines the symbolic systems that  express the cultural identity of early Russia. I have examined a variety of texts, including hagiographical, iconographical and ritualized behavior to understand how poetic structure embodies culturally specific models of the self, the state, history and the world. My publications and conference papers reflect investigations of: the  autobiography and other writings of the Archpriest Avvakum in the 17th century; works from the age of Ivan IV— the Tale of Peter and Fevroniia, the Four-Part icon of the Kremlin Annunciation cathedral, the ritualized behavior and writings of Ivan IV himself;  Wisdom icons from the early 16th and  15th  centuries, —a Novgorod icon of the Last Judgement under the aegis of Wisdom, the Novgorod Sophia icon, Rublev’s Old Testament Trinity icon; the iconographic program of the cathedral of St. Sophia in Kievan Rus'; the Wisdom iconography of Light as it evolved from the fifth to the fourteenth century to reflect the symbolism of a sphere of light in the works of Dionysios the Areopagite and Neo-Platonic tradition. The way poetic structure expresses the theology of the Word has proven to be a key to the meaning and significance of elite texts in Byzantino-Slavic and especially Russian tradition. I am working on a fuller investigation of this relationship between poetics and theology that will result in two volumes entitled, “Wisdom Builds her House: A Study in the Poetics of Russian Identity.”
Dialectical approaches from symbolic and cultural anthropology and from the work of M. Bakhtin have also provided a language for addressing the function of symbolic texts to maintain cultural equilibrium. It is my hope that these studies of the theological and cultural motivations of poetic structure will elucidate the evolution of Russian cultural identity  and the specific way modern Russia assimilates western influence.  I  have had substantial training and teaching experience in 18th, 19th and 20th century Russian literature. I have also taught comparative literature and interdisciplinary courses
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