Call for Papers

BASEES 19th Century Study Group, Department of Russian at the University of St Andrews and the c19c Nineteenth Century Research Centre are pleased to issue a call for papers for a one-day conference held at the University of St Andrews, Parliament Hall, on 17 June 2019.

When the aesthetic hierarchy of Soviet literary studies that took primacy of realism for granted collapsed in the 1990s, investigations of this literary phenomenon sank to the bottom of the list of urgent scholarly concerns. This loss of critical interest led to an almost thirty years hiatus in high-profile studies of literary realism in Russia, and a limited interest in this subject abroad. One of the immediate consequences of this trend was a loss of theoretical vocabulary that described narrative mechanics of Russian realism: Marxist-Leninist definitions of ‘critical realism’ clashed with approaches developed by Marxist critics abroad, whereas other transnational theories of realism struggled to adapt their findings to accommodate examples from the Russian literary canon. Another consequence was, until very recently, the relative lack of intersections between studies of Russian realism and critical approaches that gained momentum in the last few decades, such as gender and queer theory, post-colonial theory, post-humanism, eco-criticism, digital humanities, etc. Recently, a new wave of scholarship emerged both in Russia and abroad, aiming to address these issues.

This one-day conference intends to establish how these recent trends in Slavic Studies were informed by the shared academic and public assumptions, or ‘critical fantasies’ (Brunson, 2016) about the nature of Russian realism. We suggest to make use of the concept of ‘invented tradition’ (Hobsbawm, Ranger, 1983) to describe this gap between the critical perception of the theory and the actual literary practice of realism in nineteenth-century Russian literature and other arts. Professor Hilde Hoogenboom (Arizona State University) will address this issue in a keynote lecture on Russian sentimental realist novels. The discussion will continue at a keynote roundtable with invited speakers from the UK, North America, Russia and Europe.

The conference is supported by the School of Modern Languages at the University of St Andrews and the British Association for Slavic and Eastern European Studies. Papers presented at the conference will be considered for publication as a cluster of articles and/or in print format.

We welcome abstracts for papers discussing topics including but not limited to:

  • existing misinterpretations of Russian realism in transnational theories of literary movements and the novel
  • the impact of the recent inclusion of previously neglected women writers to the Russian canon on studies of European realism
  • adopting recent methodologies, such as post-colonial studies, for re-evaluations of Russian imperial ‘realisms’ in the works of Ukrainian and Belarusian writers
  • Russian realism and styles/genres of popular literature such as gothic, romance, crime and sensationalist fiction
  • Russian realism and the narrative theory of mimesis, fictionality and/or subjectivity
  • the interdisciplinary study of Russian realism in literature, art, history, cultural anthropology and archaeology of knowledge

Conference languages: English and Russian

A limited number of travel bursaries is available, with preference given to supporting postgraduate students residing outside of the UK. To apply for a bursary, please include a short explanation (150 words) of how attending this conference will help you develop your own research project.

Please send abstracts (200 words), along with your name, academic affiliation and a short summary of research interests to by 1 May 2019. Proposals are particularly welcome from early career researchers and postgraduate students. We will aim to notify successful applicants by 6 May. If you are applying for one of the bursaries, please consider sending your application as soon as possible.