Inherit the World: Strategies of ‘translatio’ in the Soviet Literary Cosmopolis
Current debates over world literature/global literatures almost never pay attention to the project for world literature as conceived and developed in the USSR between 1917 and 1991, although it was the most ambitious, centralised, and best-resourced effort to date to transform the workings of literary production, circulation, and consumption both at home and worldwide. It is the task of our conference to examine the Soviet project for world literature—“Soviet multinational literature” being an important part of it—and thereby to contribute to the ongoing world literature debate. Current debates have increasingly substituted “the world” with “a global,” and “literature” is used almost exclusively in the plural to emphasize diversity. But does this new language eliminate the imperial origin of the notion? To lay claims on “the world”—even knowledge claims—has always been an imperial task. As an attempt to fashion a broad domestic and international community of writers and readers laying claim to world literary heritage, the Soviet project was certainly an imperial one. It needs to be studied as such and it needs to be put into a comparative perspective.
The conference will combine a historical approach with a contemporary focus. Together with studying Soviet multinational and world-literature paradigms, we will consider their effect on current literary developments in different regions of the former Soviet Union, including successor states where Russian is no longer the lingua franca, as well as on diasporic Russian-language communities.
Organized by Zaal Andronikashvili (ZfL), Susanne Frank (HU Berlin/EXC 2020), and Eugene Ostashevsky (NYU/EXC 2020).