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Fast Forward Cover

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Fast Forward

The Aesthetics and Ideology of Speed in Russian Avant-Garde Culture, 1910–1930

Tim Harte

Life in the modernist era not only moved, it sped. As automobiles, airplanes, and high-speed industrial machinery proliferated at the turn of the twentieth century, a fascination with speed influenced artists—from Moscow to Manhattan—working in a variety of media. Russian avant-garde literary, visual, and cinematic artists were among those striving to elevate the ordinary physical concept of speed into a source of inspiration and generate new possibilities for everyday existence.
    Although modernism arrived somewhat late in Russia, the increased tempo of life at the start of the twentieth century provided Russia’s avant-garde artists with an infusion of creative dynamism and crucial momentum for revolutionary experimentation. In Fast Forward Tim Harte presents a detailed examination of the images and concepts of speed that permeated Russian modernist poetry, visual arts, and cinema. His study illustrates how a wide variety of experimental artistic tendencies of the day—such as “rayism” in poetry and painting, the effort to create a “transrational” language (zaum’) in verse, and movements seemingly as divergent as neo-primitivism and constructivism—all relied on notions of speed or dynamism to create at least part of their effects.     
    Fast Forward reveals how the Russian avant-garde’s race to establish a new artistic and social reality over a twenty-year span reflected an ambitious metaphysical vision that corresponded closely to the nation’s rapidly changing social parameters. The embrace of speed after the 1917 Revolution, however, paradoxically hastened the movement’s demise. By the late 1920s, under a variety of historical pressures, avant-garde artistic forms morphed into those more compatible with the political agenda of the Russian state. Experimentation became politically suspect and abstractionism gave way to orthodox realism, ultimately ushering in the socialist realism and aesthetic conformism of the Stalin years.

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Febris Erotica

Lovesickness in the Russian Literary Imagination

by Valeria Sobol

The destructive power of obsessive love was a defining subject of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Russian literature. In Febris Erotica, Sobol argues that Russian writers were deeply preoccupied with the nature of romantic relationships and were persistent in their use of lovesickness not simply as a traditional theme but as a way to address pressing philosophical, ethical, and ideological concerns through a recognizable literary trope. Sobol examines stereotypes about the damaging effects of romantic love and offers a short history of the topos of lovesickness in Western literature and medicine.

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Finding the Middle Ground

Krestovskii, Tur, and the Power of Ambivalence in Nineteenth Century Russian Women's Prose

Gheith, Jehanne

Though among the most prominent writers in Russia in the mid nineteenth century, Evgeniia Tur (1815 92) and V. Krestovskii (1820? 89) are now little known. By looking in depth at these writers, their work, and their historical and aesthetic significance, Jehanne M. Gheith shows how taking women's writings into account transforms traditional understandings of the field of nineteenth century Russian literature. Gheith's analysis of these writers' biographies, prose, and criticism intervenes in debates about the Russian literary tradition in general, Russian women's writing in particular, and feminist criticism on female authors and authority as it has largely been developed in and for Western contexts.

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The First Epoch

The Eighteenth Century and Russian Cultural Imagination

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From the Shadow of Empire

Defining the Russian Nation through Cultural Mythology, 1855–1870

Olga Maiorova

As nationalism spread across nineteenth-century Europe, Russia’s national identity remained murky: there was no clear distinction between the Russian nation and the expanding multiethnic empire that called itself “Russian.” When Tsar Alexander II’s Great Reforms (1855–1870s) allowed some freedom for public debate, Russian nationalist intellectuals embarked on a major project—which they undertook in daily press, popular historiography, and works of fiction—of finding the Russian nation within the empire and rendering the empire in nationalistic terms.
    From the Shadow of Empire traces how these nationalist writers refashioned key historical myths—the legend of the nation’s spiritual birth, the tale of the founding of Russia, stories of Cossack independence—to portray the Russian people as the ruling nationality, whose character would define the empire. In an effort to press the government to alter its traditional imperial policies, writers from across the political spectrum made the cult of military victories into the dominant form of national myth-making: in the absence of popular political participation, wars allowed for the people’s involvement in public affairs and conjured an image of unity between ruler and nation. With their increasing reliance on the war metaphor, Reform-era thinkers prepared the ground for the brutal Russification policies of the late nineteenth century and contributed to the aggressive character of twentieth-century Russian nationalism.

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Gogol’s Afterlife

The Evolution of a Classic in Imperial and Soviet Russia

Moeller Sally, Stephen

Gogol's claim to the title of national literary classic is incontestable. An exemplar of popular audiences no less than for the intelligentsia, Gogol was pressed into service under the tsarist and Soviet regimes for causes both aesthetic and political, official and unofficial. In Gogol's Afterlife, Stephen Moeller Sally explores how he achieved this peculiar brand of cultural authority and later maintained it, despite dramatic shifts in the organization of Russian literature and society.

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Gombrowicz, Polish Modernism, and the Subversion of Form

by

as well as providing a commentary on his novels, plays, and short stories, this book sets Gombrowicz's writing in the context of contemporary cultural theory. The author performs a detailed examination of Gombrowicz's major literary and theatrical work, showing how his conception of form is highly resonant with contemporary, postmodern theories of identity.

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The Great War in Russian Memory

Karen Petrone

Karen Petrone shatters the notion that World War I was a forgotten war in the Soviet Union. Although never officially commemorated, the Great War was the subject of a lively discourse about religion, heroism, violence, and patriotism during the interwar period. Using memoirs, literature, films, military histories, and archival materials, Petrone reconstructs Soviet ideas regarding the motivations for fighting, the justification for killing, the nature of the enemy, and the qualities of a hero. She reveals how some of these ideas undermined Soviet notions of military honor and patriotism while others reinforced them. As the political culture changed and war with Germany loomed during the Stalinist 1930s, internationalist voices were silenced and a nationalist view of Russian military heroism and patriotism prevailed.

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Gustav Shpet's Contribution to Philosophy and Cutlural Theory

Edited by Galin Tihanov

This book offers original research by leading scholars from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Russia, which covers the central areas of Shpet's work on phenomenology, philosophy of language, cultural theory, and aesthetics and takes forward the current state of knowledge and debates on his contribution to these fields of enquiry.

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Herta Müller

Politics and Aesthetics

Bettina Brandt

Two languages—German and Romanian—inform the novels, essays, and collage poetry of Nobel laureate Herta Müller. Describing her writing as “autofictional,” Müller depicts the effects of violence, cruelty, and terror on her characters based on her own experiences in Communist Romania under the repressive Nicolae Ceauşescu regime.

Herta Müller: Politics and Aesthetics explores Müller’s writings from different literary, cultural, and historical perspectives. Part 1 features Müller’s Nobel lecture, five new collage poems, and an interview with Ernest Wichner, a German-Romanian author who has traveled with her and sheds light on her writing. Parts 2 and 3, featuring essays by scholars from across Europe and the United States, address the political and poetical aspects of Müller’s texts. Contributors discuss life under the Romanian Communist dictatorship while also stressing key elements of Müller’s poetics, which promises both self-conscious formal experimentation and political intervention.

One of the first books in English to thoroughly examine Müller’s writing, this volume addresses audiences with an interest in dissident, exile, migration, experimental, and transnational literature.

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