In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Symposium on Russian Postmodernism


Jerome McGann, Department of English, University of Virginia (jjm2f@lizzie.engl.Virginia.EDU)

Vitaly Chernetsky, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania

Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, St. Petersburg, Russia (atd@HM.SPB.SU)

Mikhail Epstein, Department of Slavic Languages, Emory University

Lyn Hejinian, (70550.654@COMPUSERVE.COM)

Bob Perelman, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania (bperelme@SAS.UPENN.EDU)

Marjorie Perloff, Department of English, Stanford University (0004221898@MCIMAIL.COM)

[Editor’s note:

This symposium brought together several people working in the field of Russian Postmodernism. Discussions took place in the month of October 26–November 25, 1992.

The genre of this symposium is unusually mixed. You will find here, among other things, lengthy set pieces, conversational responses, poems previously published and unpublished, draft essays, papers from conferences, and excerpts from published work. Instead of a flow of short entries, we received fewer, longer messages.

We have chosen not to regularize the form of these entries or their mechanics, and not to revise or edit messages, in order to preserve the occassional nature of the discussion. You might refer the work found here to a transcription from an oral symposium, with printed text incorporated, and not to the dialogue of essays and replies often published in journals.]

Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1992 11:09:14-0500

From: “Jerome J. McGann”

Subject: Re: record

Perhaps it will be useful to begin the discussion with a set of topics and questions that seem to me to be pertinent — given what various people involved have already said or written.

Marjorie Perloff’s draft essay on “Russian Postmodernism”, sent for this symposium, focusses a central problem: how does one talk about the relations that have been made and pursued between agroup of contemporary Russian writers and certain western writers (are they a “group”? how?) who have been seen as their counterparts?

Let me say that the (local) history of the emergence of each”group” — both have constructed themselves outside given and traditional institutions — is a telling fact. (Though of course “samizdat” and “small press”/private printing/desktop publishing ventures have in each culture, by now, been fairly well-established.)

The problem may be seen in various forms. Perloff traces out some differences in conceptualist programs and ideas. In _Leningrad_ the same problem appears, I think, in the recurrent preoccupation with the question of the poetic “object”, as well as with the (perhaps related) question of the status of “objects-as-such” in two very different types of societies. (The problem —perhaps it is reciprocal — of the “subject” also arises repeatedly.)

For example: I read Perloff’s essay and I wonder: why did she write this? what is the point of pointing out such differentials? Or I read Watten’s essay on “Post-Soviet Subjectivity. . .” and wonder: is this essay “about” Drogomoshenko and Kabakov and “post-soviet” writing, or is it about — somehow, for some reason —contemporary American writing?

I think it would be useful if everyone in the symposium addressed these issues at the beginning. You might want to respond to Prigov or to Perloff or to Watten specifically, or to pick up from any of the other related texts in _Leningrad_ or _The Third Wave_ or _Poetics Journal_ no. 8.

For myself, I would find it helpful if — in addressing these issues — a person would also explain why they take their chosen approach (e.g., through social and institutional history; through questions of aesthetics, or stylistics; through a consideration ofthe relation of poetry and ideology; or of writing and language and “the person”; etc.).

At some point the more general cultural and social question also needs to be taken up. How to frame the question is itself a question? Well, there are different imaginable ways: why has this intercourse begun? what function does it serve the individuals, their societies, the practise of writing and art? Most immediately, what are we doing in this very symposium, what are we after?

Jerome McGann

Mon, 26 Oct 92 15:37:42

From: Lyn Hejinian <70550.654@CompuServe.COM>

Subject: first response

Dear Colleagues and Friends, I have just received Jerome McGann’s opening message, and I am as astounded at the format of...

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