In 2013, Vladimir Medinsky, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, set his mind on reforming the entire system of academic research institutions and financial support.
Arguing for the reform, he brought up “Philosophy of Hare” as an example of ridiculous research topic and a complete waste of government funds. Medinsky, it was reported, was either misinformed, for no such project was running under the auspice of his department, or he came up with a fictitious project just to make his point.
The uproar in the academia was tremendous. Horror! Horror! How can the government official — even as senior as a minister — decide which subject is worthy of study and financial support and which isn’t.
Philosophy of a hare? A rabbit? A jackass or a bunny? Or Philosophy of Hare in the same sense we say Philosophy of Mathematics. And why the hell not? Might be as worthy a subject as any.
And — surprise, surprise! — it was. The St. Petersburg Institute of Russian Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences — nicknamed Pushkin House — announced an Interdisciplinary Scientific Conference “Philosophy of Hare: Unexpected perspectives in Humanities”.
The conference generated unprecedented interest in the scientific community. The organizing committee received more than 120 submissions from all over Russia as well as research institutions in Ulan-Ude and New York, Sofia and Jerusalem. 58 best papers were selected, touching on a broad range of topics.
The event, held on June, 2014, exceeded all expectations. Here is a partial list of presentations at the conference.
- “Sociology of being a jackass: Moral status of the academic profession and bureaucratic culture of suspicion,”
- “Fauna of morality. Russian classics and Russian hares.”
- “What’s up, Doc? Wisdom of a hare, based on Bugs Bunny cartoons.” L. Bugaev (SPSU)
- “The image of a hare from Villard de Honnecourt to Albrecht Dürer. Semantic consistency and iconological mutation.” F. Furtay (Leningrad State University))
- “Trickster Rabbit in Mayan mythology,” (D. Belyaev, A. Davletshina (Moscow State Humanitarian University)
- “Rabbit out of a hat and other stories of magic.” N. Kamelina (St. Petersburg, Pushkin House RAS)
- “Game as a gift: Bunny in the context of homosexual eroticism, based on an Attic vase painting VI-V centuries.” (C. Reshetnikova (Paris Graduate School of Social Sciences)
- “Scenes of hare mutilation by a raptor as theme of Roman armament adornment.” (A. Negin (Nizhny Novgorod State University)
- “Hare, rabbit and their ilk — lexical typology of leporidaes.”
- “Pedagogical experiments on hares in the children’s literature of the XIX century.” (O. Galanin, O. Luchkina (St. Petersburg State University))
- “Images of hare in Internet folklore.” (T. Suchanova (Moscow))
- “Man-Hare” in the concept of Charles Lebrun.” (Y. Belova (St. Petersburg Institute of Design))
- “Hare from Apicius to Dumas: Recipes, food and culinary symbolism, ” (C. Noses (St. Petersburg))
- “Insidious nihilists, tame hares and ravenous wolves in Russian literature of the 1860s.” K. Zubkov (Saint-Petersburg State University / Pushkin House RAS))
- “Lepus Cruentus: angry hares in pop culture.” (S. Komogorov, (Sofia.))
- “Catching rabbits” in English criminal pamphlets XVI – early XVII century: Alternative hierarchies, “rabbits” and the author between genres. (Kirill Zubkov, St. Petersburg State University / Pushkin House RAS)
- “A weak King. Heraldic Hare — a victim and a victor.
- “The March Hare and the White Rabbit: The dichotomy of natural and artificial in the works of Lewis Carroll and culture of the XIX century, “ (V.Degtyarev, (St. Petersburg, RIII))
- “Bunny and Hare: the problem of the addressee in the children’s poetry.” (D. Magomedov, A. Blok (Moscow State Humanitarian University))