CFP: Culture of (Non-)Conformity: From the Late Soviet Time to the Present (Deadline: September 30, 2016)

Special Issue of the Journal Russian Literature, 2017
Guest Editors: Klavdia Smola, Mark Lipovetsky

Over its history Russia’s political system has created and fostered a culture of (non)conformity. Since the 1960s, one can observe a rapidly growing sphere of cultural underground. Its institutions and practices are studied as well as those within official culture of the period. Less explored is the sphere situated in-between the official and non-official cultures as well as transitions between them. This stratification became established in the late Soviet period and continues to “do its job” today. During its development it has passed through several periods of transformation, undergone important modifications, and experienced a lengthy interruption in the 1990s.

This special issue of Russian Literature will look at shifts in Russian culture along the continuum from conformity to non-conformity between the 1960s and the present day. Our focus is to analyse the structures and mechanisms of culture divided between the spheres of official/non-official/ and semi-official. The relevance of this approach is especially obvious in current political situation in Russia, when the growing ideological homogenisation of the public sphere and the resulting practices of (semi)tabooisation are today once again breaking the Russian intellectual domain up into the these three realms. Comparison between these spheres in late Soviet period and today are especially significant for our project. Papers may tackle either the trajectory of cultural assimilation or of dissent, as well as oscillations between these spheres. Attempts to place the phenomenon of (non)conformity in the context of cultural development and change since the late Soviet era to today’s split between conformist and countercultural practices are particularly welcome.

The editors of this issue would like to encourage submissions in the fields of Russian cultural studies, literary studies, history of art, theatre and film studies, and book and publishing research. Interdisciplinary work straddling the boundary between cultural studies and social and political science is likewise warmly encouraged. Papers addressing the topic from within a single discipline are however equally welcome.

Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

The cultural public sphere and its transformation from Khrushchev to Putin
Borders between the official and non-conformists: literature, art, theatre
Protest art and action art in the face of prohibition
Cultural practices and mechanisms of conformity/non-conformity in arts
Between conformity and non-conformity: spaces of cultural autonomy
Epideictics and panegyrics vs. subversion and satire
Conformity and non-conformity in the (human) sciences
Books and publishing (conformist and non-conformist)
Museums and exhibitions (conformist and non-conformist)
The cultural public sphere and cultural policy (awards and funding)
Censorship: strategies, impacts and transformations/development during the period under consideration
The Aesopian language of culture: smuggling the forbidden into the public domain

Submissions must be in English. Interested parties are asked to submit details of their proposed topic in an abstract (max. 2,000 characters), by email to and by 30 September at the latest. After approval of abstracts, the deadline for articles will be 10 January, 2016.

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