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Russian Culture and Literature Before and After the Revolution: a Comparative Aspect

Priority areas of development: humanitarian
2018
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Goal of research

The main goals of the research were 1) to reconsider the repertoire of theoretical approaches and perspectives on the studies in literature  and culture of the pre- and post-Revolutionary Russia and to work out the new such approaches and 2) to obtain the new empirical data in the field. To achieve the goals, the objectives of research were set as follows: 1) to study specific aspects of literary and cultural (theatre, cinema,etc.) life in pre-Revolutionary Russia; 2) to analyze patterns in transformation of specific aesthetic categories, genres and movements (the metamorphosis of Russian modernism was of specific interest for the group); 3) to consider the results and conclusions obtained in the comparative perspective; to analyze the new data in the  context of European  literature and  culture. 

Methodology

In a multidisciplinary project as it is, the participants employed a variety of scholarly methods from more traditional instruments of literary criticism to the novel approaches of digital humanities to “paper reconstruction” (reconstruction of the  early films based on the remaining textual pieces). The methodological landmarks for the project as a whole are the works of such authors as Sheila Fitzpatrick, David Brandenberger and Evgeny Dobrenko.

Empirical base of research

The object of the study is a variety of phenomena in the literary and cultural life of Russia before and after the two Russian revolutions of 1917, which determined the heterogeneity of the material: the first film scripts and texts of the early Soviet and Russian émigré literature; texts and materials of the Soviet literature of the 20th century, materials of foreign, specifically Spanish literature.

Results of research

The broad and interdisciplinary approach taken by the research group made it possible to accumulate empirical data in different fields. Thus, it made the important phenomena of pre-Revolutionary Russian cinema, such as the first Russian cinematographic journal, “Cine-phono”, the object of consideration and scholarly evaluation. Another important product of the study is a first detailed research into a significant source of knowledge in the history of Russian emigration, the Chamber-fourrier journal [Kamer-furierski jurnal] by VladislavKhodasevich. The research into the legacy of Sabit Mukanov made it possible to change the understanding of the Kazakh literary canon and its formation. A most significant event for literary critics and scholars in the humanities as well as those interested in Russian literature was publication of the first scholarly biography of Venedict Erofeev that also came as part of the project.

The research project theoretical contribution is also quite noticeable. As the scope of participants’ themes was rather wide, they did not rely on one and the same methodology. So the project produced separate independent methodological discoveries that seem quite promising. Thus, in the studies of the early Russian cinema, the method of “paper reconstruction” was fully employed for the first time. The publication in the leading peer-reviewed journal makes it possible to suggest that the method will be used by the cinema-study scholars. Another important theoretical contribution into the filed of the humanities is the digital method used in the research of the Chamber-fourrier journal [Kamer-furierski jurnal] by Vladislav Khodasevich, which broadened the applicability of the digital methods in the humanities, especially in literary studies.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results

The results of the project can be used in the further studies of the mechanisms of the pre- and post-Revolutionary literature and culture, while the new methods and theoretical approaches that were conceived in the project can be applied to other literary and cultural materials. Thus, the digital method that was worked while studying the Chamber-fourrier journal [Kamer-furierski jurnal] by Vladislav Khodasevich can be applied to other texts. At present, this kind of research in being undertaken in the projects of the School of Philology. On the other hand, the results obtained can be used in teaching courses on Russian literature – which is being done in the bachelor’s program “Philology” and the master’s program “Russian and comparative literature”. The method of “paper reconstruction”, making it possible to reconstruct the long lost works of the early Russian cinema, can be applied to reconstruction of other films and at the moment is employed by the academic study group “The early Russian cinematic prose”. And the first scholarl y biography of Venedict Erofeev can be used as a basis for the further study into the work of the author.

Publications:


Лекманов О. А., Свердлов М. И., Симановский И. Г. Венедикт Ерофеев: посторонний. Биография. / Науч. ред.: Е. П. Шубина. М. : АСТ, редакция Елены Шубиной, 2018.
Kovalova A. ‘I shall show you the right path’: Samuil Lur’e and the first Russian film journal, Sine-Fono / Пер. с рус. // Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema. 2018. Vol. 12. No. 2. P. 92-113. doi
Харитонова Н. Ю. "Призраки истории" Хулиана Горкина (1961): события русской революции глазами оппозиционера и эмигранта" // В кн.: Литература и революция. Век двадцатый Вып. 4: серия "Литература. Век двадцатый". М. : Литфакт, 2018. С. 270-278.
Kovalova A. "Anna Karenina" (1914): Reconstructing and Interpretiong a Lost Russian Film / Пер. с рус. // Film History: An International Journal. 2018. Vol. 30. No. 2. P. 35-78. doi