Now You Can Follow Pushkin: HSE – Nizhny Novgorod Students Create Instagram Account for Russia’s Most Famous Poet
Can a person who lived in the 19th century become a popular blogger? How do you get teenagers interested in poetry? What would Pushkin have posted about on Instagram? Students at HSE’s campus in Nizhny Novgorod provide answers to all of these questions in their ‘Pushkin the Blogger’ media project.
The February content plan of Russia’s most important poet has a lot of interesting things in store for his Instagram followers: notes on love, a post about nineteenth-century wedding traditions (on February 18, 1831, the poet married Natalya Goncharova – ed. note), and a selection of books and films about Russia’s most famous poet and founding father of the modern Russian literary language.
The main goal of the media project, according to its creators, is to tell readers about Pushkin’s work in a language that is understandable to young people. Furthermore, they are certain that ‘if the poet had lived in the 21st century, he definitely would have been the most popular blogger.’
The ‘Pushkin the Blogger’ team is international: it is comprised of two Anastasias (Anastasia Penkina and Anastasia Denisova) from Russia and one Stefan Penoshet from France. The three are first-year students in the Master’s Programme ‘Literature and Media’ at HSE – Nizhny Novgorod. According to the team, ‘Pushkin the Blogger’ resulted from their participation in the Space of Complicity Competition.
The Space of Complicity Competition is a competition organized by the Centre for Digital Cultures and Media Literacy with the support of the Vladimir Potanin Charity Fund. The goal of the competition is to increase collaboration between the University and social and cultural organizations. Master’s students from various fields participate in the competition by creating digital projects for libraries, museums, theaters, NGOs, and charitable organizations.
The students developed their project for the Boldino Museum-Reserve, and it took them a few months to complete it. Nastya Denisova worked on the concept of the Instagram account and created stickers for Telegram; Stefan made a prototype of an interactive Pushkin family tree; and Nastya Penkina updated the reserve’s official website and created an additional page with a 3D model of the poet’s life. ‘The most difficult thing was to finish everything by the deadlines (which we had set ourselves) and choose the best tools to implement our ideas,’ the students say.
Stefan, who came to Russia to learn Russian, was immediately inspired by the idea of the project.
This is a modern and innovative look at the image of the poet and his work
In addition, the project presented the Frenchman with the perfect occasion to study Russian literature, a big interest of his. ‘I learned about the Boldino autumn, an important period in the work of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin. He wrote a lot within this short amount of time!’
The authors of the project note that their work is ongoing. ‘We plan to form a group of philologists and historians who will help us with texts for the museum-reserve website as well as some apps. And along with Nastya we are running Pushkin’s Instagram account,’ says Anastasia Denisova.
Anastasia Penkina adds that the team would like to receive a grant (of any kind) to educate people about Pushkin. ‘We will use grant money for high-quality photographs and videos.’
Nastya admits that the project helped her see the poet from a new perspective — from the point of view of modern media. ‘He is truly a blogger. From his diaries, works, and letters, we learn about his time and its relation to everything that was happening around him. Though people back then couldn’t click “send” or “share”, they did have pens and ink.’