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Case Research & Writing Group
Established in November 1999, the Case Research & Writing Group (CRG) grew out of Harvard Business School’s commitment to increase the diversity, impact, and visibility of its international and domestic research efforts. CRG case researchers work closely with HBS faculty members, supporting the development of cases and other course materials including case supplements, abridgements, background notes, teaching notes, and multimedia products. Part of the Division of Research and Faculty Development, the CRG also supports other HBS departments, the HBS Global Initiative and its off-campus centers, and provides RA training services.
CRG case researchers have contributed to over 1,900 projects across all the HBS academic units. Field cases (which involve interviews at the host organization) account for nearly one third of these products. Library cases, supplements, rewrites, revisions, abridged cases, teaching notes and teaching plans, and multimedia supplements make up the balance.
The CRG team currently has 15 members. While all CRG case researchers are generalists, covering all HBS intellectual disciplines, they come from diverse industry backgrounds. Prior to joining the CRG, case researchers have had successful careers in finance, engineering, education, international development, academia, consulting, politics, journalism, green real estate, and policy. CRG case researchers have a combined 100+ years of case writing experience, some of it at other academic institutions. Members of the CRG hold diverse academic credentials. Five case researchers hold BAs, four hold MBAs, four hold MAs (History, Government, Law & Diplomacy, International Administration), and two hold PhDs. Undergraduate concentrations include art history, East Asian studies, electrical engineering, finance, government, history, political science, public policy, and sociology. Additionally, members of the CRG are fluent in Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Spanish and have considerable experience living and working overseas. The professional and academic background of CRG case researchers allows us to take on diverse projects internationally and domestically. Carin Knoop heads the CRG ( [email protected] ).
Working as a case researcher at the CRG is exciting and challenging. We visit companies all over the world, drawing on interviews with organizational leaders, data, field observations, and published sources to create educational and effective classroom cases. The group also writes background, industry, and teaching notes and contributes to many other types of course material. Unlike HBS RAs who are dedicated to one or a group of faculty members, CRG case researchers are paired with faculty members on an individual project basis and typically work simultaneously with multiple HBS faculty supporting the diverse intellectual disciplines at HBS. More information about working at HBS and the RA experience is available .
While challenging, the opportunity to contribute to the intellectual capital of HBS is greatly rewarding. Additionally, case researchers are encouraged to take part in the broad range of activities at HBS and the greater Harvard community.
CRG case researchers have the following qualities:
- Ability to develop and write HBS cases (in support of faculty) on a variety of business subjects, usually in print, though sometimes in media such as web-based video. In addition to writing text, case researchers also produce charts, graphs, and tables as appropriate.
- Strong writing and academic research skills, as well as excellent analytical, communications, and interviewing skills.
- Understanding of current management and business issues.
- Flexibility, adaptability, and the ability to multitask, focus, and write quickly and effectively.
- Desire to work collaboratively and independently at the highest level of academic rigor while establishing strong working relationships and taking direction from one or more project leaders.
- Comfort in both academic and business settings, and with interviewing top corporate executives.
- Proven business writing and case writing experience.
- Language fluency, regional familiarity, or sector expertise.
- Knowledge of HBS structure, systems, and processes.
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Harvard Griffin GSAS students conduct innovative research every day—in libraries and archives, research centers, labs, and at fieldwork sites around the world. Communicating that research to an audience is what brings it alive, and writing remains the essential platform through which we share ideas, big and small, with our interlocutors.
Harvard Griffin GSAS is dedicated to helping students from all disciplines hone their writing and communication skills, as they move from seminar papers to fellowship proposals, articles, dissertation chapters, and everything in between. Articulating complex ideas eloquently, precisely, and confidently is an immense challenge that all academics face. We strive to work with students—on both the individual and group levels—to help them accomplish this feat in their own writing. Ultimately, strong writing and presentational skills are crucial both for completing graduate degrees and achieving professional success in academia and beyond.
See our menu on the left for details about all of our services. And for a wonderful additional resource, check out Harvard Library's Writing Toolkit , created specifically for graduate students.
Fellowships & Writing Center
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Notes From a Writer's Desk: Managing Time and Research While Teaching
The Fellowships & Writing Center, along with the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning and the Academic Resource Center, recently held a panel discussion on how to manage time when both researching and teaching during the graduate school years.
Notes From a Writer's Desk: Overcoming Writing Obstacles
Last week, the Fellowships & Writing Center presented a workshop on “Overcoming Writing Obstacles.”
Notes from a Writer's Desk: Drawing a Blank
One of the most difficult tasks of writing is getting started.
Notes From a Writer's Desk: Pumpkin Spice Makes Writing Nice
When the FWC team was brainstorming a potential topic for this post, an unexpected, spirited debate erupted around the idea of “pumpkin spice season.”
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The Harvard College Writing Program designs the curricula and pedagogy for four important undergraduate skills and critical thinking courses :
- the required expository writing course Expos 20 , which is the one academic experience required of all Harvard students since 1872;
- Expos Studio 10 and Expos Studio 20 , two elective introductory analytical writing courses designed to help students who would benefit from additional intensive instruction;
- Expos 40 , an elective public speaking practicum, which focuses on developing and strengthening the skills necessary for successful public speaking.
In addition to teaching the fundamentals of analytical argument to first-year students, the Writing Program extensively supports undergraduate writing beyond Expos . We publish writing guides , create digital learning tools , provide individual writing tutorials through our undergraduate peer-staffed Writing Center and graduate student-staffed Departmental Writing Fellows Program, and help professors and Teaching Fellows in departments and programs deliver excellent writing instruction. The Writing Program's Engaged Scholarship courses and Writing and Public Service Initiative encourage students to explore the application and impact of effective communication beyond the College.
Writing Group: Technology Law and Policy - Fall 2023 - Spring 2024
This writing group will meet on six selected Thursdays throughout the Fall and Spring term. Please note, this will be split in 4 – 5 dates in the Spring Term on Thursdays at 3:45 p.m. and 1 – 2 dates in th Fall at a TBD that works for everyone. Exact dates TBD.
For more information visit the Harvard Law School Course Catalog .
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This course helps business professionals improve their writing so they are better equipped to accomplish their educational and professional goals
Advanced Fiction: Writing Horror
Seeing Nature in the Twentieth Century
In this course, students survey important American contributions to modern American environmental nonfiction
Introduction to Fiction Writing
A workshop for writers with little or no experience in writing fiction
Advanced Fiction: Writing Suspense Fiction
Learn how techniques used in suspense fiction—structure, pace, tension, and plot—can be applied to your own writing
Writing the screenplay for the next box office smash or successful independent film requires inspiration; it also requires knowledge of the screenwriter's craft.
Fundamentals of Fiction
This intensive, immersive course is designed for graduate-credit students with strong writing skills and an interest in becoming fiction writers but little formal experience, students who would like to develop a solid foundation in story and scene structu
Writing the Coming-of-Age Film
This advanced screenwriting course explores the inevitable process of growing up, including the adolescent's path toward adulthood and their new understanding of themselves and the world around them.
The Art of the Pitch
You have an idea, or you've created a brilliant piece of work: a novel, a screenplay, a concept for a TV series—maybe even a scripted nonfiction podcast
Fundamentals of Dramatic Writing
This course is designed for students with strong writing skills who have an interest in writing plays and/or screenplays, but little formal experience.
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Writing Can Help Us Heal from Trauma
- Deborah Siegel-Acevedo
Three prompts to get started.
Why does a writing intervention work? While it may seem counterintuitive that writing about negative experiences has a positive effect, some have posited that narrating the story of a past negative event or an ongoing anxiety “frees up” cognitive resources. Research suggests that trauma damages brain tissue, but that when people translate their emotional experience into words, they may be changing the way it is organized in the brain. This matters, both personally and professionally. In a moment still permeated with epic stress and loss, we need to call in all possible supports. So, what does this look like in practice, and how can you put this powerful tool into effect? The author offers three practices, with prompts, to get you started.
Even as we inoculate our bodies and seemingly move out of the pandemic, psychologically we are still moving through it. We owe it to ourselves — and our coworkers — to make space for processing this individual and collective trauma. A recent op-ed in the New York Times Sunday Review affirms what I, as a writer and professor of writing, have witnessed repeatedly, up close: expressive writing can heal us.
- Deborah Siegel-Acevedo is an author , TEDx speaker, and founder of Bold Voice Collaborative , an organization fostering growth, resilience, and community through storytelling for individuals and organizations. An adjunct faculty member at DePaul University’s College of Communication, her writing has appeared in venues including The Washington Post, The Guardian, and CNN.com.
Back to Course Catalog
Spring 2024 • Course
Writing Group: After Affirmative Action – Paths to Access and Success in Education in the 21st Century
Students enrolling in Spring groups are required to submit a signed Writing Group Registration Form to the Registrar’s Office.
The Harvard Gazette
How to translate a nobel-winning author (and 700-page sentence), ‘still caught in a system that makes us smaller than we could be’.
Arts & Humanities
Damion Searls ’92 (left) with author Jon Fosse at the National Book Awards last year.
Alum Damion Searls — English ‘gateway’ for Jon Fosse and other writers — discusses Harvard roots, elevating new voices, and his multilingual ‘Matrix’ moment
By Eileen O’Grady Harvard Staff Writer
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When Damion Searls ’92 first read a novel by 2023 Nobel Prize-winning writer Jon Fosse more than 20 years ago, he had to read a German edition because he didn’t know Norwegian.
An American publisher had asked Searls to do a reader’s report of Fosse’s “ Melancholy ,” a fictionalized account of the life of a 19th-century Norwegian painter. But when the publisher ultimately decided not to pursue the project, Searls — who had found the book “absolutely brilliant and genius” — decided it was time to learn Norwegian, enlist the help of a Norwegian-born co-translator, and do the project himself.
Today Searls, who was a philosophy concentrator during his time at Harvard, has translated 10 of Fosse’s works, including his three-volume masterpiece “ Septology I-VII .” His translation of “ A New Name ,” the third volume, was shortlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize .
“I’m someone who believes that what a translator does is read really well and then write in English,” Searls explained. “You don’t have to be a fluent speaker of the language you’re reading. You don’t have to be able to interpret at the U.N. or order a meal in a restaurant, because that’s not the skill. The skill is reading a written book.”
Distinguished Writer in Residence at Wesleyan University, and a translator from German, Norwegian, French, and Dutch, Searls has translated many modern classic writers including Proust, Rilke, Nietzsche, Thomas Mann, Max Weber, and Ingeborg Bachmann. He also writes his own books in English, including “ The Inkblots ,” about the Rorschach test and its creator.
Searls wasn’t always multilingual. It wasn’t until he was a Harvard College senior, working on his thesis on German philosophers, that he began studying the language he now knows best besides English. And it wasn’t until the former Adams and Dunster House resident returned to campus in 2004 to teach in the Harvard Writing Program that he enrolled in an entry-level French course.
“It was like in ‘The Matrix’ where you hear all this clicking and everything fits together, from my past experience of seeing French movies with subtitles and thinking about language in general,” Searls said. “The second day, I transferred from French 1 to French 3.”
Searls believes the key to a good translation is being able to write well in English, so the piece’s tone — whether it’s humor, sharpness, or anger — comes across in a natural way.
“When I tell people that I’m a writer — what I do is write books in English — it kind of blows their mind because they never think of translation that way,” Searls said. “But when you were 3 years old hearing stories about Cinderella or Poseidon, that’s translation. It’s just a story that happens to have been written in another language first.”
For years, Searls’ only communication with Fosse was via email, as the Norwegian writer and playwright was often busy traveling for his work. Fosse gave Searls free rein with most of the earlier books, but worked more closely with his draft translation of “Septology,” comparing it to the Norwegian text and making comments. The two met in person for the first time at the 2022 International Booker Prize ceremony in London.
“We had an email friendship, which I really treasure,” Searls said. “He’s very kind and wise and friendly and responsive and great.”
Searls believes Fosse’s books are universally beloved because they offer an experience that casts a spell over the reader. The books are also accessible, he added, due to their straightforward vocabulary and relatable characters.
Readers shouldn’t feel intimidated by the books’ reputation — especially “Septology,” which is known for its “slow prose” style and one single sentence lasting over 700 pages, he said.
“Some people are like, ‘Oh, I thought it would be difficult because I read all these reviews, but I read it straight through, it wasn’t hard at all,’” Searls said. “It’s not some incredibly difficult puzzle. There are a lot of sentences, they’re just divided by commas and ‘ands’ instead of periods. It’s just a different rhythm of putting the thoughts together.”
Searls says English is the most important gateway language in translation. Books will often spike in popularity after being published in English, and the ones that become most famous tend to be the ones that appeal the most to Americans.
Knowing the impact English translation can have, Searls has taken on some recent translation projects that introduce new, young, female voices, such as Norwegian writer Victoria Kielland, author of “ My Men ,” to the English-speaking world.
“Sure, retranslating Thomas Mann is introducing readers to a new voice and it opens him up to a lot of people who hadn’t read him before, but that’s different from a young living person getting to debut in English while they’re alive and it making a difference in their career,” Searls explained.
When asked if he feels a weight of responsibility being a “gateway” to the English-speaking world for many authors, Searls says he actually feels more pleased than pressured.
“I read the book and thought it was great and now, thanks to me, there are lots of other people who get to read this great book and think it’s great,” Searls said. “When I translate books that I really love and I hear from readers who are like, ‘Oh, my God, I love this book,’ I’m glad. I feel like I did my job, and I got to share this experience, which was meaningful for me.”
New chapter for ‘The Odyssey’
Emily Wilson, first woman to translate the ancient epic into English, explains her milestone
In translation, he found his raison d’être
Arthur Goldhammer looks back on a life bringing the work of Thomas Piketty and others to readers of English
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What this handout is about.
Whether in the academic world or the business world, all of us are likely to participate in some form of group writing—an undergraduate group project for a class, a collaborative research paper or grant proposal, or a report produced by a business team. Writing in a group can have many benefits: multiple brains are better than one, both for generating ideas and for getting a job done. However, working in a group can sometimes be stressful because there are various opinions and writing styles to incorporate into one final product that pleases everyone. This handout will offer an overview of the collaborative process, strategies for writing successfully together, and tips for avoiding common pitfalls. It will also include links to some other handouts that may be especially helpful as your group moves through the writing process.
Disclaimer and disclosure
As this is a group writing handout, several Writing Center coaches worked together to create it. No coaches were harmed in this process; however, we did experience both the pros and the cons of the collaborative process. We have personally tested the various methods for sharing files and scheduling meetings that are described here. However, these are only our suggestions; we do not advocate any particular service or site.
The spectrum of collaboration in group writing
All writing can be considered collaborative in a sense, though we often don’t think of it that way. It would be truly surprising to find an author whose writing, even if it was completed independently, had not been influenced at some point by discussions with friends or colleagues. The range of possible collaboration varies from a group of co-authors who go through each portion of the writing process together, writing as a group with one voice, to a group with a primary author who does the majority of the work and then receives comments or edits from the co-authors.
Group projects for classes should usually fall towards the middle to left side of this diagram, with group members contributing roughly equally. However, in collaborations on research projects, the level of involvement of the various group members may vary widely. The key to success in either case is to be clear about group member responsibilities and expectations and to give credit (authorship) to members who contribute an appropriate amount. It may be useful to credit each group member for his or her various contributions.
Overview of steps of the collaborative process
Here we outline the steps of the collaborative process. You can use these questions to focus your thinking at each stage.
- Share ideas and brainstorm together.
- Formulate a draft thesis or argument .
- Think about your assignment and the final product. What should it look like? What is its purpose? Who is the intended audience ?
- Decide together who will write which parts of the paper/project.
- What will the final product look like?
- Arrange meetings: How often will the group or subsets of the group meet? When and where will the group meet? If the group doesn’t meet in person, how will information be shared?
- Scheduling: What is the deadline for the final product? What are the deadlines for drafts?
- How will the group find appropriate sources (books, journal articles, newspaper articles, visual media, trustworthy websites, interviews)? If the group will be creating data by conducting research, how will that process work?
- Who will read and process the information found? This task again may be done by all members or divided up amongst members so that each person becomes the expert in one area and then teaches the rest of the group.
- Think critically about the sources and their contributions to your topic. Which evidence should you include or exclude? Do you need more sources?
- Analyze the data. How will you interpret your findings? What is the best way to present any relevant information to your readers-should you include pictures, graphs, tables, and charts, or just written text?
- Note that brainstorming the main points of your paper as a group is helpful, even if separate parts of the writing are assigned to individuals. You’ll want to be sure that everyone agrees on the central ideas.
- Where does your individual writing fit into the whole document?
- Writing together may not be feasible for longer assignments or papers with coauthors at different universities, and it can be time-consuming. However, writing together does ensure that the finished document has one cohesive voice.
- Talk about how the writing session should go BEFORE you get started. What goals do you have? How will you approach the writing task at hand?
- Many people find it helpful to get all of the ideas down on paper in a rough form before discussing exact phrasing.
- Remember that everyone has a different writing style! The most important thing is that your sentences be clear to readers.
- If your group has drafted parts of the document separately, merge your ideas together into a single document first, then focus on meshing the styles. The first concern is to create a coherent product with a logical flow of ideas. Then the stylistic differences of the individual portions must be smoothed over.
- Revise the ideas and structure of the paper before worrying about smaller, sentence-level errors (like problems with punctuation, grammar, or word choice). Is the argument clear? Is the evidence presented in a logical order? Do the transitions connect the ideas effectively?
- Proofreading: Check for typos, spelling errors, punctuation problems, formatting issues, and grammatical mistakes. Reading the paper aloud is a very helpful strategy at this point.
Helpful collaborative writing strategies
Attitude counts for a lot.
Group work can be challenging at times, but a little enthusiasm can go a long way to helping the momentum of the group. Keep in mind that working in a group provides a unique opportunity to see how other people write; as you learn about their writing processes and strategies, you can reflect on your own. Working in a group inherently involves some level of negotiation, which will also facilitate your ability to skillfully work with others in the future.
Remember that respect goes along way! Group members will bring different skill sets and various amounts and types of background knowledge to the table. Show your fellow writers respect by listening carefully, talking to share your ideas, showing up on time for meetings, sending out drafts on schedule, providing positive feedback, and taking responsibility for an appropriate share of the work.
Start early and allow plenty of time for revising
Getting started early is important in individual projects; however, it is absolutely essential in group work. Because of the multiple people involved in researching and writing the paper, there are aspects of group projects that take additional time, such as deciding and agreeing upon a topic. Group projects should be approached in a structured way because there is simply less scheduling flexibility than when you are working alone. The final product should reflect a unified, cohesive voice and argument, and the only way of accomplishing this is by producing multiple drafts and revising them multiple times.
Plan a strategy for scheduling
One of the difficult aspects of collaborative writing is finding times when everyone can meet. Much of the group’s work may be completed individually, but face-to-face meetings are useful for ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Doodle.com , whenisgood.net , and needtomeet.com are free websites that can make scheduling easier. Using these sites, an organizer suggests multiple dates and times for a meeting, and then each group member can indicate whether he or she is able to meet at the specified times.
It is very important to set deadlines for drafts; people are busy, and not everyone will have time to read and respond at the last minute. It may help to assign a group facilitator who can send out reminders of the deadlines. If the writing is for a co-authored research paper, the lead author can take responsibility for reminding others that comments on a given draft are due by a specific date.
Submitting drafts at least one day ahead of the meeting allows other authors the opportunity to read over them before the meeting and arrive ready for a productive discussion.
Find a convenient and effective way to share files
There are many different ways to share drafts, research materials, and other files. Here we describe a few of the potential options we have explored and found to be functional. We do not advocate any one option, and we realize there are other equally useful options—this list is just a possible starting point for you:
- Email attachments. People often share files by email; however, especially when there are many group members or there is a flurry of writing activity, this can lead to a deluge of emails in everyone’s inboxes and significant confusion about which file version is current.
- Google documents . Files can be shared between group members and are instantaneously updated, even if two members are working at once. Changes made by one member will automatically appear on the document seen by all members. However, to use this option, every group member must have a Gmail account (which is free), and there are often formatting issues when converting Google documents back to Microsoft Word.
- Dropbox . Dropbox.com is free to join. It allows you to share up to 2GB of files, which can then be synched and accessible from multiple computers. The downside of this approach is that everyone has to join, and someone must install the software on at least one personal computer. Dropbox can then be accessed from any computer online by logging onto the website.
- Common server space. If all group members have access to a shared server space, this is often an ideal solution. Members of a lab group or a lab course with available server space typically have these resources. Just be sure to make a folder for your project and clearly label your files.
Note that even when you are sharing or storing files for group writing projects in a common location, it is still essential to periodically make back-up copies and store them on your own computer! It is never fun to lose your (or your group’s) hard work.
Try separating the tasks of revising and editing/proofreading
It may be helpful to assign giving feedback on specific items to particular group members. First, group members should provide general feedback and comments on content. Only after revising and solidifying the main ideas and structure of the paper should you move on to editing and proofreading. After all, there is no point in spending your time making a certain sentence as beautiful and correct as possible when that sentence may later be cut out. When completing your final revisions, it may be helpful to assign various concerns (for example, grammar, organization, flow, transitions, and format) to individual group members to focus this process. This is an excellent time to let group members play to their strengths; if you know that you are good at transitions, offer to take care of that editing task.
Your group project is an opportunity to become experts on your topic. Go to the library (in actuality or online), collect relevant books, articles, and data sources, and consult a reference librarian if you have any issues. Talk to your professor or TA early in the process to ensure that the group is on the right track. Find experts in the field to interview if it is appropriate. If you have data to analyze, meet with a statistician. If you are having issues with the writing, use the online handouts at the Writing Center or come in for a face-to-face meeting: a coach can meet with you as a group or one-on-one.
Immediately dividing the writing into pieces
While this may initially seem to be the best way to approach a group writing process, it can also generate more work later on, when the parts written separately must be put together into a unified document. The different pieces must first be edited to generate a logical flow of ideas, without repetition. Once the pieces have been stuck together, the entire paper must be edited to eliminate differences in style and any inconsistencies between the individual authors’ various chunks. Thus, while it may take more time up-front to write together, in the end a closer collaboration can save you from the difficulties of combining pieces of writing and may create a stronger, more cohesive document.
Although this is solid advice for any project, it is even more essential to start working on group projects in a timely manner. In group writing, there are more people to help with the work-but there are also multiple schedules to juggle and more opinions to seek.
Being a solo group member
Not everyone enjoys working in groups. You may truly desire to go solo on this project, and you may even be capable of doing a great job on your own. However, if this is a group assignment, then the prompt is asking for everyone to participate. If you are feeling the need to take over everything, try discussing expectations with your fellow group members as well as the teaching assistant or professor. However, always address your concerns with group members first. Try to approach the group project as a learning experiment: you are learning not only about the project material but also about how to motivate others and work together.
Waiting for other group members to do all of the work
If this is a project for a class, you are leaving your grade in the control of others. Leaving the work to everyone else is not fair to your group mates. And in the end, if you do not contribute, then you are taking credit for work that you did not do; this is a form of academic dishonesty. To ensure that you can do your share, try to volunteer early for a portion of the work that you are interested in or feel you can manage.
Leaving all the end work to one person
It may be tempting to leave all merging, editing, and/or presentation work to one person. Be careful. There are several reasons why this may be ill-advised. 1) The editor/presenter may not completely understand every idea, sentence, or word that another author wrote, leading to ambiguity or even mistakes in the end paper or presentation. 2) Editing is tough, time-consuming work. The editor often finds himself or herself doing more work than was expected as he or she tries to decipher and merge the original contributions under the time pressure of an approaching deadline. If you decide to follow this path and have one person combine the separate writings of many people, be sure to leave plenty of time for a final review by all of the writers. Ask the editor to send out the final draft of the completed work to each of the authors and let every contributor review and respond to the final product. Ideally, there should also be a test run of any live presentations that the group or a representative may make.
Entirely negative critiques
When giving feedback or commenting on the work of other group members, focusing only on “problems” can be overwhelming and put your colleagues on the defensive. Try to highlight the positive parts of the project in addition to pointing out things that need work. Remember that this is constructive feedback, so don’t forget to add concrete, specific suggestions on how to proceed. It can also be helpful to remind yourself that many of your comments are your own opinions or reactions, not absolute, unquestionable truths, and then phrase what you say accordingly. It is much easier and more helpful to hear “I had trouble understanding this paragraph because I couldn’t see how it tied back to our main argument” than to hear “this paragraph is unclear and irrelevant.”
Writing in a group can be challenging, but it is also a wonderful opportunity to learn about your topic, the writing process, and the best strategies for collaboration. We hope that our tips will help you and your group members have a great experience.
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Cross, Geoffrey. 1994. Collaboration and Conflict: A Contextual Exploration of Group Writing and Positive Emphasis . Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
Ede, Lisa S., and Andrea Lunsford. 1990. Singular Texts/Plural Authors: Perspectives on Collaborative Writing . Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.
Speck, Bruce W. 2002. Facilitating Students’ Collaborative Writing . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
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Activist Group Our Harvard Can Do Better Expands Focus, Rebrands as Harvard Feminist Coalition
Our Harvard Can Do Better, an undergraduate campus group advocating against rape culture at Harvard, has rebranded as the Harvard Feminist Coalition, the organization announced on Oct. 30.
The shift follows group members’ desire to expand their focus beyond direct action and address a wider set of gender-based issues.
Our Harvard Can Do Better was founded in 2012 to “dismantle rape culture at Harvard” and to advocate for “a policy under which survivors are supported and abusers face commensurate sanctions,” according to the group’s website.
Members of the group spearheaded protests against Harvard’s sexual misconduct policies in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against professor John L. Comaroff, including walkouts , email campaigns , and a University Hall sit-in . The group has called for Comaroff’s resignation.
The coalition intends to focus on a more diverse set of issues in line with its newly broadened mission.
"It was very focused, kind of just siloed in on sexual violence and focused on direct action in a way that we thought didn’t properly address the need for a greater feminist community and also a more holistic, intersectional approach towards advancing gender justice on campus,” said Rosie P. Couture ’26, a member of the group.
“Sexual violence is absolutely still a priority. Also, we’re thinking about abortion access and access to reproductive health care on campus. We’re also thinking about queer and trans students on campus and how to make them feel safe,” she added.
Rachael A. Dziaba ’26, one of the organizers of the coalition, said despite expanding their efforts to be more intersectional, the group is still focused on gender equity and “continuing to advocate against this culture of sexual assault.”
Anya X. Zhang ’27, the freshman representative of the Feminist Coalition, said the coalition seeks to convey the message to sexual assault and microaggression victims that “there’s a community behind them that is able to support them and help them seek justice in any way, shape, or form.”
Zhang said conversations about issues the Feminist Coalition is focused on are often occurring “in the ivory tower and within seminar classrooms.”
“When we actually see these injustices happen and people we know exhibit these kinds of behaviors, that’s when we start to get uncomfortable,” she said. “We need to normalize these kinds of conversations and hold each other accountable for actions that are not okay.”
“Being able to discuss these kinds of topics surrounding feminism, sexual assault culture, that sort of thing is really important and integral towards changing our campus culture for the better,” she added.
—Staff writer Charlotte P. Ritz-Jack can be reached at charl[email protected] . Follow her on X @charrittzjack .
—Staff writer Hana Rostami can be reached at [email protected] .
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Dear Members of the Harvard Community, The past few weeks have been marked by pain and fear for many of us. Harvard rejects all forms of hate, and we are committed to addressing them. I am writing today to share updates on the ongoing work to combat antisemitism in our community, as well as to describe the hard work still in front of us. As President, I affirm our commitment to protecting all members of our community from harassment and marginalization, and our commitment to meeting antisemitism head-on, with the determination it demands. Let me reiterate what I and other Harvard leaders have said previously: Antisemitism has no place at Harvard. While confronting any form of hatred is daunting, the challenges we face tackling antisemitism are made all the more so by its pernicious nature and deep historical roots. But we are committed to doing the hard work to address this scourge. As I announced in a speech on October 27, I have assembled an Antisemitism Advisory Group of trusted voices, including faculty, alumni, students, and leaders of Harvard’s Jewish community. They are: Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine, AB ’92, MPP ’96, and Vice Chair of the Harvard Board of Overseers; Thomas Dunne, Harvard College Dean of Students; Dara Horn, AB ’99, PhD ’06, former Gerard Weinstock Visiting Lecturer of Jewish Studies in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Kevin J. Madigan, Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity School, and Eliot House Faculty Dean; Martha L. Minow, EdM ’76, former Dean of Harvard Law School, and 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University; Eric M. Nelson, AB ’99, Robert M. Beren Professor of Government in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Nim Ravid, Harvard College Class of ’25; and David Wolpe, Visiting Scholar at Harvard Divinity School, and the Max Webb Emeritus Rabbi of Sinai Temple. This group’s wisdom, experience, and moral conviction will help lead us forward. The Advisory Group will work closely with me, guided by Provost Alan Garber and with the help of the School deans, to develop a robust strategy for confronting antisemitism on campus. Some of the specific steps we are implementing in connection with our ongoing work with the Advisory Group are as follows.
- We have started the process of examining how antisemitism manifests within our community and crafting a plan that addresses its complex history, including acknowledging this specific form of prejudice in Harvard’s past, in a comprehensive manner.
- We will implement a robust program of education and training for students, faculty, and staff on antisemitism broadly and at Harvard specifically. As part of this program, we will provide education about the roots of certain rhetoric that has been heard on our campus in recent weeks, and its impact on Jewish members of our community, to help us all better recognize antisemitism in daily life and interrupt its harmful influence.
- We are redoubling our efforts to make students aware that appropriate avenues exist to report feelings of fear or incidents causing harm, including through our anonymous reporting hotline for incidents of bias, to ensure that all members of our community have access to and feel comfortable voicing their concerns.
- We are working diligently to ensure the physical, as well as psychological, safety of all members of our community. The Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) continues to detect, assess, and respond to any threats made against any members of our community, including those that are made online. This monitoring is carried out by the HUPD, including through a hotline that is monitored 24/7 to assess and address online harassment and threats.
- The Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging has convened several community support sessions over the past month in collaboration with Harvard Hillel and Counseling and Mental Health Services, and a newly formed Inclusion and Belonging Student Leadership Council has broad representation, including from the Jewish community. In addition, we have been working to increase education around antisemitism and Jewish history—the Harvard Heritage Month workgroup voted unanimously this year to include both Holocaust Remembrance Day and Jewish American Heritage Month observations as part of the official University-wide calendar.
- We are seeking to identify external partnerships that will allow Harvard to learn from and work with others on our strategy.
The concrete steps above represent only the starting point for our work. In the coming days and weeks, various of our Schools will be announcing their own efforts and commitments in this regard. We will also work with the Advisory Group to explore areas such as how we can foster broader student and community engagement; how we can build on the initial steps taken by the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging to more fully integrate antisemitism into the work of that office; and how we might strengthen scholarship at Harvard on antisemitism, bringing our teaching and research mission to this effort. Combating antisemitism and hate speech demands a sustained commitment across every facet of University life, including being responsive to input from the full Harvard community. If you have thoughts, feedback, or other suggestions, please share them with us via email at [email protected] . We are grateful for the work of the Advisory Group members, who are giving their time and energy to help us tackle these critical issues. While success may not come quickly or easily, we know that we must continue to press forward in combating antisemitism, and the efforts and expertise of our Advisory Group members are crucial to achieving our goals. I also want to reiterate Harvard’s absolute commitment to the safety and wellbeing of every member of our community. Harvard has been and is a place of civil behavior and civil discourse. We do not condone—and will not ignore—antisemitism, Islamophobia, acts of harassment or intimidation, or threats of violence. I have heard from many community members about the incident on the Harvard Business School campus on October 18. That incident is being investigated by the FBI and the Harvard University Police Department. Consistent with our standard practice, once law enforcement’s inquiry is complete, the University will address the incident through its student disciplinary procedures to determine if University policies or codes of conduct have been violated and, if so, take appropriate action. Finally, I have heard concerns from some about how this important work relating to antisemitism will bear on Harvard’s vital commitment to free expression. Combating antisemitism and fostering free expression are mutually consistent goals. We are at our strongest when we commit to open inquiry and freedom of expression as foundational values of our academic community. At the same time, our community must understand that phrases such as “from the river to the sea” bear specific historical meanings that to a great many people imply the eradication of Jews from Israel and engender both pain and existential fears within our Jewish community. I condemn this phrase and any similarly hurtful phrases. Harvard was founded to advance human dignity through education. We inherited a faith in reason to overcome ignorance, in truth to surmount hate. Antisemitism is destructive to our mission. We will not solve every disagreement, bridge every divide, heal every wound. But if we shrink from this struggle, we betray our ideals. Sincerely, Claudine Gay President
Join the Graduate Student Journal Article Writing Group
Posted in: Events , Homepage Features
Are you a graduate student working on a journal article for publication? Learn more about the Graduate Student Journal Article Writing Group!
This writing group will run during the Spring semester ( January 22 – April 19, 2024 ). Weekly topics will include:
- Publication venues
- Selecting a journal
- Writing your argument
- Literature review
- Citation management
Participants can participate mostly asynchronously, though a weekly synchronous meeting will be convened. We will use Wendy Laura Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks to guide the discussions and work.
Attend one of the upcoming Zoom information sessions where we will discuss how the program will run, the expected time commitment, and answer any other questions you may have. If you want to sign up without attending an information session, or if you have questions, contact [email protected] . Information Session Dates – Please Register Below
Wednesday, November 22nd, 12:30-1 p.m.
Wednesday, November 29th, 2:30-3 p.m.
Tuesday, December 5th, 8-8:30 p.m.
Monday, December 11th, 7-7:30 p.m .
Thursday, December 14th, 5-5:30 p.m.
Sponsored by the Center for Writing Excellence and the University Libraries.
Three decades after the Soviet era, this Moscow street echoes what was.
And hints where russia is heading., welcome to tverskaya street.
MOSCOW — Thirty years ago, the Soviet Union ceased to be. The flag was lowered for the last time on Dec. 25, 1991. That moment still raises deep questions for the U.S.S.R.’s heirs: “Who were we as Soviets, and where are we going as Russians?”
Many of the answers can be found on Moscow’s main thoroughfare — named Gorky Street, after writer Maxim Gorky, from 1932 to 1990, and renamed Tverskaya Street, a nod to the ancient city of Tver, as the Soviet Union was awash in last-gasp reforms.
It was the Soviet Union’s display window on the bright future that Kremlin-run communism was supposed to bring. It was where the KGB dined, the rich spent their rubles, Vladimir Lenin gave speeches from a balcony, and authorities wielded their power against one of the most famous Soviet dissidents, Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
In the 1990s, Tverskaya embodied the fast-money excesses of the post-Soviet free-for-all. In later years, it was packed with hopeful pro-democracy marchers. And now , under President Vladimir Putin, it is a symbol of his dreams of reviving Russia as a great power, reliving past glories and crushing any opposition to his rule.
Join a tour of Moscow’s famed Tverskaya Street.
Hotel National: Where the Soviet government began
The window in Room 107 at the Hotel National faces Red Square and the Kremlin. It offers a perfect view of Lenin’s tomb — fitting, since he was Room 107’s most famous guest.
The Kremlin was damaged during the Russian Revolution in 1917. So Lenin and his wife moved into Room 107 for seven days in March 1918, making the hotel the first home of the Soviet government.
The Hotel National in Moscow, from top: Artwork in the Socialist Realist style — which artists were ordered to adopt in the 1930s — still adorns the hotel; Elena Pozolotina has worked at the hotel since 1995; the hotel, which contains a restaurant, was built in 1902; the National has hosted notable guests, including Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and actor Jack Nicholson. (Photos by Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post)
The National, built in 1902 during the era of Imperial Russia, also accommodated other Soviet leaders, including Leon Trotsky and Felix Dzerzhinsky, chief of the secret police. The building continued to be used by the Soviet government as a hostel for official party delegates and was renamed First House of Soviets in 1919.
Guests can now stay in the same room Lenin did for about $1,300 a night. In more recent years, the hotel has hosted notable guests including Barack Obama (when he was a senator) and actor Jack Nicholson.
“This hotel feels a little like a museum,” said Elena Pozolotina, who has worked at the National since 1995.
“We have rooms that look onto Tverskaya Street, and we always explain to guests that this is the main street of our city,” Pozolotina said. “This corner of Tverskaya that we occupy, it’s priceless.”
Stalin’s plan: ‘The building is moving’
When Soviet leader Joseph Stalin demanded a massive redevelopment of Moscow in 1935, an order came to transform modest Gorky Street into a wide, awe-inspiring boulevard.
Engineer Emmanuel Gendel had the job of moving massive buildings to make way for others. Churches and monasteries were blown up, replaced by newspaper offices and a huge cinema.
The Moscow Central Eye Hospital was sheared from its foundation, rotated 97 degrees, jacked up, hitched on rails and pushed back 20 yards — with surgeons operating all the while, or so official media reported at the time.
Gendel’s daughter, then about 8, proudly stood at a microphone, announcing: “Attention, attention, the building is moving.” Tatiana Yastrzhembskaya, Gendel’s granddaughter and president of the Winter Ball charity foundation in Moscow, recalls that Gendel extolled communism but also enjoyed the rewards of the elite. He drove a fine car and always brought the family the best cakes and candies, she said.
The largest Gorky Street building Gendel moved was the Savvinskoye Courtyard. The most difficult was the Mossoviet, or Moscow city hall, with a balcony where Lenin had given speeches. The building, the former residence of the Moscow governor general, had to be moved with its basement. The ground floor had been a ballroom without central structural supports.
Moving buildings on Gorky Street in 1940, from left: A mechanic at a control panel regulates the supply of electricity while a house is being moved; a postal worker passes a moving house; a specialist unwinds a telephone cable during a building move to maintain uninterrupted communication; 13 rail tracks were placed under a house, on which 1,200 metal rollers were laid. (Photos by RGAKFD)
Gendel’s skills were used all over the U.S.S.R. — straightening towers on ancient mosques in Uzbekistan, inventing a means to drag tanks from rivers during World War II and consulting on the Moscow Metro.
Like many of the Soviet Union’s brightest talents, Gendel found that his freedom was tenuous. His ex-wife was called by the KGB internal spy agency in 1937 and asked to denounce him. She refused, and he avoided arrest.
“I believe he was not arrested and sent to the camps because he was a unique expert,” said Yastrzhembskaya. World War II, known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War, interrupted the Master Plan for Gorky Street.
Aragvi restaurant: A haunt of the KGB
In the 1930s, the head of the elite NKVD secret police, Lavrenty Beria, one of the architects of the Stalin-era purges, ordered the construction of a state-owned restaurant, Aragvi, to showcase food from his home republic of Georgia.
One night, NKVD agents descended in several black cars on a humble Georgian canteen in Moscow that Beria had once visited. The agents ordered the chef, Longinoz Stazhadze, to come with them. The feared NKVD was a precursor to the KGB.
Stazhadze thought he was being arrested, his son Levan told Russian media. He was taken to Beria, who said that he had agreed with “the Boss” (Stalin) that Stazhadze would run Aragvi. Stazhadze had grown up a peasant, sent to work in a prince’s kitchens as a boy.
Aragvi opened in 1938. It was only for the gilded set, a reminder that the “Soviet paradise” was anything but equitable. The prices were astronomical. It was impossible to get a table unless the doorman knew you or you could pay a hefty bribe.
Aragvi, at No. 6 Tverskaya, was a favorite of the secret police; government officials; cosmonauts and pilots; stars of theater, movies and ballet; directors; poets; chess masters. Beria reputedly dined in a private room. Poet Sergei Mikhalkov said he composed the lyrics of the Soviet national anthem while sitting in the restaurant in 1943.
It was privatized in the 1990s and struggled, before closing in 2002. It reopened in 2016 after a $20 million renovation. But the new Aragvi closed abruptly in 2019 amid reports of a conflict between its owner and the building managers.
“You put your entire soul into cooking,” said the former head chef, Nugzar Nebieridze, 59, celebrated for his khinkali, a meaty dumpling almost the size of a tennis ball. He was devastated to find himself unemployed. But other doors opened. He now prefers to travel, giving master classes around Russia.
Stalin’s funeral: A deadly street crush that never officially happened
On March 6, 1953, the day after Stalin died of a stroke, an estimated 2 million Muscovites poured onto the streets. They hoped to catch a glimpse of his body, covered with flowers and laid out in the marbled Hall of Columns near Red Square.
Yulia Revazova, then 13, sneaked from her house with her cousin Valery without telling their parents. As they walked toward Pushkin Square, at one end of Gorky Street, the procession turned into a scene of horror. They saw people falling and being trampled. Some were crushed against metal fences. Valery, who was a few years older, grabbed Yulia by the hand and dragged her out of the crowd.
“He held my hand really tight and never let it go, because it was pure madness,” she recalled recently. “It took us four or five hours to get out of there. People kept coming and coming. I couldn’t even call it a column; it was just an uncontrollable mass of people.”
“I still have this feeling, the fear of massive crowds,” added Revazova, 82. “To this day, if I see a huge group of people or a really long line, I just cross the street.”
Neither Revazova nor her cousin knew about Stalin’s repressions.
“People were crying. I saw many women holding little handkerchiefs, wiping away tears and wailing,” she recalled. “That’s the psychology of a Soviet person. If there is no overarching figure above, be it God or Lenin, life will come crashing down. The era was over, and there was fear. What will we do without Stalin?”
Officials never revealed how many people died that day. The Soviet-approved archival footage of the four days of national mourning showed only orderly marches and memorials.
No. 9: The ruthless culture minister
The Soviet culture minister, the steely Yekaterina Furtseva, was nicknamed Catherine the Third, after the forceful Russian Empress Catherine the Great. Furtseva destroyed writers, artists or anyone else who challenged Soviet ideas. She lived at an elite 1949 apartment building for government officials at No. 9 — an ultra-prestigious address with a view of the Kremlin.
Furtseva, a former small-town weaver, made sure that No. 9 was only for the cream of party officials and other notables, such as famous Soviet actress Natalia Seleznyova, scientists, conductors and architects.
Riding the coattails of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Furtseva was the only woman in the Politburo and later became the Soviet Union’s cultural gatekeeper despite her provincial sensibilities. She once infamously mixed up a symphony with an opera, and critics were quick to notice.
“She had little in common with the artistic leaders of her country except a liking for vodka,” Norwegian painter Victor Sparre wrote in his 1979 book on the repression of dissident Soviet writers, “The Flame in the Darkness.”
Furtseva was famous for previewing performances and declaring anyone even subtly critical of Soviet policies as being anti-state. Director Yuri Lyubimov described one such visit to Moscow’s Taganka Theater in 1969, when she turned up wearing diamond rings and an astrakhan coat. She banned the play “Alive,” depicting a cunning peasant’s struggle against the collective farm system. She “was livid, she kept shouting,” he told L’Alternative magazine in 1984. She stormed out, warning him she would use her influence, “up to the highest levels,” against him.
He was expelled from the party and in 1984 was stripped of his citizenship. She vehemently denounced Solzhenitsyn, and banned the Bolshoi Ballet’s version of “Carmen” in 1967 over prima ballerina Maya Plisetskaya’s sensual performance and “un-Soviet” costumes that did not cover enough leg.
“The ballet is all erotica,” she told the dancer. “It’s alien to us.” But Plisetskaya, whom Khrushchev once called the world’s best dancer, fought back. The ballet went on with some excisions (the costumes stayed) and became a legend in the theater’s repertoire.
Furtseva was nearly felled by scandal in 1974, ordered to repay $80,000 spent building a luxurious dacha, or country home, using state labor. She died months later.
Where Solzhenitsyn was arrested
The Nobel Prize-winning Solzhenitsyn exposed the Soviet system’s cruelty against some of its brightest minds, trapped in the gulag, or prison camps.
Solzhenitsyn was given eight years of hard labor in 1945 for privately criticizing Stalin, then three years of exile in Kazakhstan, a Soviet republic at the time. His books were banned. After release from exile in 1956, he was allowed to make only 72-hour visits to the home of his second wife, Natalia, at 12 Gorky St., Apt. 169. Solzhenitsyn had to live outside the city.
“People knew that there were camps, but not many people, if any, knew what life was like in those camps. And he described it from the inside. He had been there himself, and that was shocking to a lot of people,” said Natalia Solzhenitsyna during a recent interview at the apartment, which became a museum in 2018.
“Many people say that he did make a contribution to the final fall of the Soviet Union.”
Solzhenitsyn, who died in 2008, called Russia “the land of smothered opportunities.” He wrote that it is always possible to live with integrity. Lies and evil might flourish — “but not through me.”
The museum displays tiny handwritten copies of Solzhenitsyn’s books, circulated secretly; film negatives of letters smuggled to the West; and beads made of compacted bread that he used to memorize poems in prison.
“He spent a lot of time here with his children. We were always very busy. And we just enjoyed ourselves — being together,” Solzhenitsyna said. They had three sons.
No. 12 Gorky St., from top: Natalia Solzhenitsyna lived in the apartment for years, and her husband, Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, was allowed only short visits; the site now houses a museum displaying items connected to him, such as negatives containing a copy of a novel he wrote; another exhibit includes Solzhenitsyn’s clothes from when he was sent to the gulag and beads made of compacted bread that he used to memorize poems; the Nobel Prize-winning writer’s desk is featured at the museum. (Photos by Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post)
Because of KGB bugs, if the couple were discussing something sensitive, they wrote notes to each other, and then destroyed them. Two KGB agents usually roosted in the stairwell on the floor above, with two more on the floor below.
“The Soviet authorities were afraid of him because of his popularity among intellectuals, writers, people of culture and the intelligentsia.”
Her favorite room is decked with black-and-white photos of dissidents sent to the gulag, the Soviet Union’s sprawling system of forced labor camps. “It’s dedicated to the invisibles,” she said, pointing out friends.
Sweden planned to award Solzhenitsyn’s 1970 literature prize in the Gorky Street apartment, but the writer rejected a secret ceremony. A Swedish journalist in Moscow, Stig Fredrikson, was Solzhenitsyn’s smuggler. He carried Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel lecture on tightly rolled film disguised as a battery in a transistor radio, and he took other letters to the West and transported photos taped to his back.
“I felt that there was a sense of unfairness that he was so isolated and so persecuted,” Fredrikson said in a recent interview. “I got more and more scared and more and more afraid every time I met him.”
In 1971, the Soviet Union allegedly tried to poison Solzhenitsyn using a secret nerve agent, leaving him seriously ill. Early 1974 was tense. The prosecutor subpoenaed him. State newspapers railed against him.
The morning of Feb. 12, 1974, the couple worked in their study. In the afternoon, he walked his 5-month-old son, Stepan, in the yard below.
“He came back here, and literally a minute later, there was a ring at the door. There were eight men. They immediately broke the chain and got in,” his widow said. “There was a prosecutor in his prosecutor’s uniform, two men in plainclothes, and the rest were in military uniform. They told him to get dressed.”
“We hugged and we kept hugging for quite a while,” she recalled. “The last thing he told me was to take care of the children.”
He was deported to West Germany. The couple later settled in Vermont and set up a fund to help dissident writers, using royalties from his book “The Gulag Archipelago.” About 1,000 people still receive money from the fund, according to Solzhenitsyna.
When the writer and his wife returned to Russia in 1994, they traveled across the country by train. Thousands of people crushed into halls to hear him speak.
Solzhenitsyn abhorred the shock therapy and unchecked capitalism of the 1990s and preferred Putin’s tough nationalism. He died of heart failure at 89 in August 2008, five months after a presidential election in which Putin switched places with the prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, in a move that critics saw as a ploy to get around constitutional term limits.
No. 6: ‘Feasts of thought’
Behind a grand Stalin-era apartment block at 6 Gorky St. sits an ornate 1907 building famous for its facade, art nouveau glazed blue tiles, elegant arches and baroque spires. Once a monastery dormitory, it was a staple of pre-Soviet postcards from Moscow. But in November 1939, the 26,000-ton building was put on rails and pushed back to widen the street.
Linguists Lev and Raisa Kopelev lived in Apt. 201 on the top floor. Their spacious dining room became a favored haven for Moscow’s intelligentsia from the 1950s to the 1980s.
“People gathered all the time — to talk. In this apartment, like many other kitchens and dining rooms, at tables filled more often than not with vodka, herring and vinaigrette salad, feasts of thought took place,” said Svetlana Ivanova, Raisa’s daughter from another marriage, who lived in the apartment for nearly four decades.
Solzhenitsyn and fellow dissident Joseph Brodsky were Kopelev family friends, as were many other artists, poets, writers and scientists who formed the backbone of the Soviet human rights movement of the 1960s.
As a writer and dissident, Kopelev had turned his back on the Communist Party and a prestigious university position. The onetime gulag prisoner inspired the character Lev Rubin in Solzhenitsyn’s novel “In the First Circle,” depicting the fate of arrested scientists.
“The apartment was a special place for everyone. People there were not afraid to speak their mind on topics that would be considered otherwise risky,” Ivanova said. “A new, different spirit ruled in its walls.”
Eliseevsky: Pineapples during a famine
The Eliseevsky store at No. 16 was a landmark for 120 years — born in czarist Russia, a witness to the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, a survivor of wars, and a bastion during eras of shortages and plenty. It closed its doors in April.
Eliseevsky fell on hard times during the coronavirus pandemic, as international tourists dwindled and Russians sought cheaper grocery-shopping alternatives.
In the palace-like interior, two chandeliers hang from an ornate ceiling. Gilt columns line the walls. The front of the store, looking out at Tverskaya Street, has a row of stained glass.
The Eliseevsky store, which opened in 1901, is seen in April, with a few customers and some archival photos, as it prepared to close as an economic victim of the coronavirus pandemic. (Photos by Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post)
Denis Romodin, a historian at the Museum of Moscow, said Eliseevsky is one of only two retail spaces in Moscow with such pre-revolutionary interiors. But Eliseevsky’s level of preservation made it “one of a kind,” he said.
The building was once owned by Zinaida Volkonskaya, a princess and Russian cultural figure in the 19th century. She remodeled the house into a literary salon whose luminaries included Russia’s greatest poet, Alexander Pushkin.
St. Petersburg merchant Grigory Eliseev opened the market in 1901. It quickly became a hit among Russian nobility for its selection of European wines and cheeses.
Romodin said it was Russia’s first store with price tags. Before Eliseevsky, haggling was the norm. And it was also unique in having innovative technology for the time: electric-powered refrigerators and display cases that allowed goods to be stored longer.
Even in the Soviet Union’s hungriest years, the 1930s famine, Eliseevsky stocked pineapples.
“One could find outlandish delicacies here, which at that time seemed very exotic,” Romodin said. “It was already impossible to surprise Muscovites with wine shops. But a grocery store with luxurious interiors, and large for that time, amazed and delighted Muscovites.”
The First Gallery: A glimpse of openness
In 1989, in a dusty government office by a corner of Pushkin Square, three young artists threw off decades of suffocating state control and opened the Soviet Union’s first independent art gallery.
That April, Yevgeny Mitta and two fellow students, Aidan Salakhova and Alexander Yakut, opened First Gallery. At the time, the Soviet Union was opening up under policies including glasnost, which gave more room for public debate and criticism.
Artists were ordered to adopt the Socialist Realist style in 1934, depicting scenes such as happy collective farmworkers. Expressionist, abstract and avant-garde art was banned. From the 1970s, underground art exhibitions were the only outlets to break the Soviet-imposed rules.
The First Gallery, from top: Yevgeny Mitta, Aidan Salakhova and Alexander Yakut opened the Soviet Union’s first independent art gallery in 1989 and received media attention; Mitta works on a painting that he displayed at his gallery; Mitta recalled recently that he “felt we had to make something new”; an undated photo of Mitta at his gallery in Soviet times. (Photos by Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post and courtesy of Yevgeny Mitta)
“I just felt we had to make something new,” recalled Mitta, 58, who kept his interest in contemporary expressionism a secret at a top Moscow art school in the 1980s.
“It was like nothing really happened in art history in the 20th century, like it stopped,” he said. “The Socialist Realism doctrine was invented and spread to the artists as the only one, possible way of developing paintings, films and literature.”
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, artists had to “learn how to survive, what to do, how to work and make a living,” he said.
McDonald’s: ‘We were not used to smiling’
In the Soviet Union’s final years, a mania raged for all things Western. Estée Lauder opened the first Western-brand shop on Gorky Street in 1989, after meeting Raisa Gorbachev, the wife of reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in December 1988.
The Soviet Union’s first McDonald’s, located across Pushkin Square on Gorky Street, opened on Jan. 31, 1990 — a yellow-arched symbol of Gorbachev’s perestroika economic reforms. Pizza Hut opened later that year. (In 1998, Gorbachev starred in a commercial for the pizza chain.)
Karina Pogosova and Anna Patrunina were cashiers at the McDonald’s on opening day. The line stretched several blocks. Police officers stood watch to keep it organized.
The Soviet Union’s first McDonald’s opened in 1990 and eager customers lined up to enter; Karina Pogosova, left, and Anna Patrunina were cashiers at the fast-food restaurant on Gorky Street then, and they are senior executives with the company today. (Photos by Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images and Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post)
“The atmosphere was wonderful. The first day I had to smile the entire day and my face muscles hurt,” Patrunina said. “This is not a joke. Russians do not smile in general, so we were not used to smiling at all, not to mention for more than eight hours straight.”
Pogosova and Patrunina were students at the Moscow Aviation Institute when they learned McDonald’s was hiring through an ad in a Moscow newspaper. Interview questions included: “How fast can you run 100 meters?” It was to gauge if someone was energetic enough for the job.
Pogosova and Patrunina are still with the company today, as senior vice president of development and franchising and vice president of operations, respectively.
“I thought that this is the world of opportunities and this new world is coming to our country, so I must be in this new world,” Patrunina said.
The smiling staff wasn’t the only culture shock for customers. Some had never tried the fountain sodas that were available. They were unaccustomed to food that wasn’t eaten with utensils. The colorful paper boxes that Big Macs came in were occasionally saved as souvenirs.
McDonald’s quickly became a landmark on the street.
“I remember very well that the street and the entire city was very dark and McDonald’s was like an island of light with bright signage,” Pogosova said. “The street started to change after McDonald’s opened its first restaurant there.”
Wild ’90s and a missing ballerina
The end of the Soviet Union uncorked Moscow’s wild 1990s. Some people made instant fortunes by acquiring state-owned enterprises at throwaway prices. Rules were being written on the fly. The city was pulsing with possibilities for those with money or those desperate to get some.
“It was easy to get drunk on this,” said Alex Shifrin, a former Saatchi & Saatchi advertising executive from Canada who lived in Moscow from the mid-1990s until the late 2000s.
It all was on full display at Night Flight, Moscow’s first nightclub, opened by Swedish managers in 1991, in the final months of the Soviet Union, at Tverskaya 17. The club introduced Moscow’s nouveau elite to “face control” — who merits getting past the rope line — and music-throbbing decadence.
The phrase “standing on Tverskaya” made its way into Russian vernacular as the street became a hot spot for prostitutes. Toward the end of the 2000s, Night Flight had lost its luster. The club scene in Moscow had moved on to bigger and bolder venues.
Decades before, No. 17 had been famous as the building with the dancer: a statue of a ballerina, holding a hammer and sickle, placed atop the cupola during Stalin’s building blitz.
Muscovites nicknamed the building the House Under the Skirt.
“The idea was to have Gorky Street as a museum of Soviet art. The statues represented a dance of socialism,” art historian Pavel Gnilorybov said. “The ballerina was a symbol of the freedom of women and the idea that, before the revolution, women were slaves. It is as if she is singing an ode to the regime.”
The crumbling statues were removed by 1958. People forgot them. Now a group of Muscovites, including Gnilorybov, are campaigning for the return of the ballerina.
“It’s an idea that we want to give the city as a gift. It’s not political,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”
Pushkin Square: For lovers and protesters
Pushkin Square has been Moscow’s favorite meeting place for friends, lovers and political demonstrations.
In November 1927, Trotskyist opponents of Stalin marched to the 27th House of Soviets at one end of Tverskaya Street, opposite the Hotel National, in one of the last public protests against the Soviet ruler.
In December 1965, several dozen dissidents gathered in Pushkin Square to protest the trials of two writers. It became an annual event. People would gather just before 6 p.m. and, on the hour, remove their hats for a minute.
In 1987, dissidents collected signatures at Pushkin Square and other locations calling for a memorial to those imprisoned or killed by the Soviet state. The movement evolved into Memorial, a leading human rights group. Memorial was declared a “foreign agent” in 2016 under Putin’s sweeping political crackdowns.
In January 2018, left, and January 2021, right, protesters gathered at Pushkin Square. (Photos by Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post)
Protests in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny were held at Pushkin Square earlier this year. And it is where communists and liberals rallied on a rainy September night to protest 2021 parliamentary election results that gave a landslide win to Putin’s United Russia party despite widespread claims of fraud.
Nearly 30 years after the fall of the U.S.S.R., Putin’s Russia carries some echoes of the stories lived out in Soviet times — censorship and repressions are returning. Navalny was poisoned by a nerve agent in 2020 and later jailed. Many opposition figures and independent journalists have fled the country. The hope, sleaze and exhilaration of the 1990s have faded. Tverskaya Street has settled into calm stagnation, waiting for the next chapter.
Arthur Bondar contributed to this report.
Correction: A map accompanying this article incorrectly spelled the first name of a former Soviet leader. He is Vladimir Lenin, not Vladmir Lenin. The map has been corrected.
About this story
Story editing by Robyn Dixon and Brian Murphy. Photos and videos by Arthur Bondar. Archival footage from the Russian State Documentary Film and Photo Archive at Krasnogorsk; footage of Joseph Stalin’s funeral from the Martin Manhoff Archive, courtesy of Douglas Smith. Photo editing by Chloe Coleman. Video editing by Jason Aldag. Design and development by Yutao Chen. Design editing by Suzette Moyer. Maps by Dylan Moriarty. Graphics editing by Lauren Tierney. Copy editing by Melissa Ngo.
2018 Primetime Emmy & James Beard Award Winner
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A History of Moscow in 13 Dishes
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