The twentieth-century Russian poetry canon at the BASSEES / ICCEES Congress ‘Europe: Crisis and Renewal’

Throughout the course of the project, we have been exploring the ways in which the canon of twentieth-century Russian poetry has changed since 1991 and asking such questions as: ‘have all the Soviet-era approved poets been entirely removed from the post-Soviet canon?’; ‘are the poets in the post-1991 canon only those who were not approved by the Soviet leadership?’; and ‘have there been attempts to reconcile approved poetry with the unapproved of the Soviet period, and how does it fit with the poetry of pre-1917 and post-1991?’, so when we saw the theme of this year’s joint BASEES / ICCEES European Congress, it seemed appropriate to submit a proposal for a panel.

Thanks to colleagues Emily Lygo and Ursula Stohler, we were able propose two panels addressing different aspects of the canon forming process. In the first of the two panels, ‘The Russian Twentieth-Century Poetry Canon in the Post-Soviet Period: Changing Narratives’, Alexandra Smith’s paper demonstrated that the Romantic myth of the poet as martyr and hero continues to play an important role in the canonisation of Russian poets. Emily Lygo discussed the canon of Thaw poetry in the post-Soviet era, examining the versions of the canon of works and poets of the Thaw poets that have emerged since the fall of the USSR. Aaron Hodgson finished the session with his paper entitled ‘From the margins to the mainstream: Joseph Brodsky and the 20th century poetic canon in the post-Soviet period’, in which he explored how Brodsky has risen to fame from almost near obscurity in the post-Soviet period.

In the second of the two panels, ‘Canon formation in Russian and Eastern European literature: the influence of institutions’, Joanne Shelton explored the extent to which the Nobel Prize for Literature had guaranteed Ivan Bunin and his poetry a more prominent place in the canon of twentieth-century Russian literature. Katharine Hodgson discussed the ways in which the repertoire of poetry generally identified as belonging to ‘official’ culture has been reproduced in post-Soviet publications. In particular it will look at the use of allusion and quotation in the poetry of Timur Kibirov, arguing that that his work demonstrates above all the continued vitality of the ‘official’ poetry canon, as something that enabled readers (and poets) to create what Gronas describes as ‘meaningful and memorable patterns’ out of the real life around them. Ursula Stohler’s paper on domestic and foreign women writers in Czech literature textbooks (1948-2007) discussed the ways in which works by women writers were included in secondary school textbooks and how their inclusion has changed over time, in particular, during the post-socialist period.

The project team would like to thank Emily Lygo and Ursula Stohler for their papers, conference organisers for allowing us the opportunity to present the work of the project at the 2013 conference; and the audience for their helpful comments and questions.

Comments are closed.

Staypressed theme by Themocracy

Skip to toolbar