CFP: Dumpster Diving and Sustainability: Managing the Limited Resources of Culture (Princeton University, October 17-18, 2014

Annual Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference, Princeton University

Submissions deadline: August 5, 2014.

Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

Keynote Speaker: Catriona Kelly (University of Oxford)

“You can't imagine how stupid the whole world has grown nowadays. The things that scribblers write.” ― Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls

"Dumpster Diving and Sustainability: Managing the Limited Resources of Culture" is an interdisciplinary conference dedicated to marginal and outmoded art in all of its manifestations and returns in Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian cultures. The conference aims at exploring our repeated turn to the afterlives of ‘bad’ or exhausted cultural forms as a way to cope with and interpret artistic and social changes.

In his literary studies, Iurii Tynianov famously pointed out a particular tendency of literary evolution: a literary or artistic fact that appears worthless at one historical moment may, at another, become a productive element of an aesthetic order. Taking Tynianov’s observation as a point of our departure, we want to understand the overall function and impact of ‘bad art’ on contemporary artists and societies, as well as on our own disciplines, both as a fetishized avant-garde commodity and as a recontextualization of historical forms/norms.

Our contention is that ‘bad art’ is a ubiquitous feature of artistic production with its own intrinsic laws. With this in mind, this conference proposes a critical interrogation of the ‘bad.’ The goal is not so much to deconstruct or vindicate ‘bad art’ but rather to acknowledge the ‘bad’ as an inalienable value that continues to sustain itself through various means of cultural recycling.

We invite submissions from humanities and social science scholars. A short selection of sample topics below indicates some potential areas of inquiry:

• On the Invention of Bad Writing (Vasilii Rozanov, Valentin Kataev)

• Art as Commodity: Lubok, Feuilleton, Pulp

• The Aesthetic Education of Men: The Prostitute as Guardian in Literature and Film (Crime and Punishment, Resurrection, Interdevochka, Wiktor Grodecki’s Czech Films)

• Gastronomical Phenomenology (Mikhail Bakhtin, Soldier Chonkin, Soldier Švejk)

• Author as ‘Holy Fool’ from Venedikt Erofeev to Kirill Medvedev

• Authorship and Pastiche (Dmitry Prigov, Ilia Kabakov)

• The Importance of Being Earnest: Gogol’s “Selected Passages from Correspondence with Friends”

• Serialized Novels, TV Series, and the Epic

• Eurovision, Balkan Beats, and the Construction of National Identity in Post-Socialist Europe

Conference Format

The goal of the conference is to provide graduate students with the chance to present their work to senior scholars in the field and to receive as much constructive feedback as possible. All papers will be made available prior to the conference through the conference website. At the conference, each presenter will be given 15-20 minutes to present his or her paper, followed by commentary by the panel discussant and open discussion.

Submission Details

We welcome submissions from graduate students across disciplines. Please submit abstracts (200 words or less) to In addition, please attach a short CV including current departmental affiliation, name, and e-mail. The deadline for submissions is August 5, 2014. Please submit all files as Word documents.

We will be able to provide travel subsidies for the conference participants, as well as lodging for the nights of October 16 and 17.

Any questions should be addressed to

Organizing Committee:

David Hock
Philip Gleissner
Elizabeth Stern

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