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BODY PRACTICES: KINAESTHETICS

In the intellectual background of myriad engagements with touch is the claim (which has a long history as well as continuing exponents) that touch gives deeper access to reality than other senses. Roger Smith's (Lancaster University) article "Kinaesthesia and metaphors of reality" draws attention to the 19th century emphasis on the sense of movement in the psycho-physiology of touch. This was the context in which the term "kinaesthesia" became current. Touch and movement were linked in the arts, as well as in scientific writing and philosophy, in relation to claims that touch is the deepest sense.

In her article "The sixth sense of the avant-garde", Irina Sirotkina (Institute for the History of Science and Technology) examines the term "sixth sense". The term here stands for kinaesthesia or muscular sense, that is, the feeling of one's body moving or maintaining a posture. In a way, the sixth sense is the primary and basic sense upon which we build our self-awareness and our knowledge of the world. The article argues that the artists of the Russian avant-garde, and the Russian Formalists especially, made good use of kinaesthesia, being young, dynamic and energetic. In fact, they were the first to discover, both in theory and practice, the value of muscular sense for what philosophers would later term "tacit knowledge," "know-how" or "savoir-faire." It can be argued that Viktor Shklovsky's concept of "device" [приём] is synonymous with this kind of knowledge. By legitimizing practical knowledge (of which kinaesthesia is an important part), the Russian Formalists put themselves as much in the avant-garde of philosophical thought as in the artistic avant-garde.

Hilary Fraser's (The University of London) "The Language of Touch in Victo­rian Art Criticism" argues that Victorian-era art criticism demonstrated a close connection between the tactile and the visual, and that one of the works crucial to the formation of this connection was Bernard Berenson's Florentine Painters of the Renaissance(1896). Berenson was not, however, the only Victorian art critic interested in the tactile: the haptic was a key component of visual experience and aesthetic sensibility for other authors writing on art during the second half of the 19th century. Thus a new discourse on the tactile gradually took shape in art-criticism — a new "language of touch" that responded to the appearance of new media and new trends in art (first and foremost, photography and impressionism), and was influenced both by psychology (for instance, the works of William James) and physiological aesthetics, with its language of motor sensation and speed. Furthermore, the role of desire played a significant role in the appearance of this new language. Having materialized out of a corporeal-sensual apprehension of art, this language carried erotic potential and was closely intertwined with the emerging discourses of sexuality.

 

ANTHROPOLOGY AND THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE VISUAL: THEORIES OF TRAUMA AND THE VISUAL

An article from Oksana Moroz (RSUH; RANEPA) and Ekaterina Suverina(The University of Manchester; RSUH), "Trauma studies: history, representation, witness" addresses trauma studies, which as a discipline has been long since recognized in worldwide research practice as a legitimate and valid method of investigating painful historical experience, nevertheless maintains a dual status in Russian analytic practice. On the one hand, "Russian-style trauma studies" have become an important method for writing and talking about the tragic past. On the other hand, the pathetic note inherent to this kind of utterance often hides mere lamentation, rather than a profound grasp of methods with which one might ex­pand the range of uncomfortable but socially necessary questions of identification. Without aspiring to provide a definitive description of the problem, we have tried to present a context that makes the development of such an analytical position possible, as well as the totality of theories and views that have formed the interdisciplinary space of trauma studies.

Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina has been filmed more than twenty times for both the big and small screens. Meanwhile, all of these films feature one striking image not present in Tolstoy's narrative, which produces numerous reverberations if analyzed against the background of international and, especially, Russian cine­matic history. Namely, this is the image of an eye. Yuri Leving's (Dalhousie University, Canada) "The Eye-deology of Trauma: Killing Anna Karenina Softly" attempts to read this carefully inserted frame as an homage to the Russian cine­matic tradition of Dziga Vertov's Cine-eyes movement. By examining the suicide of Anna in several recent film adaptations, Leving suggests that a new cinematic hypertext with visual references to Vertov and Russian avant-garde cinema has emerged, one that make us question our own eye-deas about Tolstoy's novel.

 

IN MEMORIAM

Viktor Markovich Zhivov (05.02.1945, Moscow — 17.04.2013, Berkeley)

This section is dedicated to the memory of Viktor Zhivov, a major Russian phi­lologist, linguist and expert in the history of Russian language and culture of the medieval, 18thcentury and early modern period, as well as a member of the NLO editorial board. Dr Zhivov's colleagues and students from Russia, Europe and the United States have contributed remarks on his character and his role in Slavic Studies in Russia and worldwide: they include S.A. Ivanov (Moscow Higher School of Economics, RAS Institute of Slavic Studies, SPbSU, RSHU), A.M. Moldovan (RAS Vinogradov Institute of the Russian Language), Marina Bobrik (Potsdam University Slavic Institute),Aleksei Gippius (Moscow Higher School of Econo­mics, RAS Institute of Slavic Studies, RSHU), Olga Matich (UC Berkeley), Werner Lefeldt (Georg-August Universitat Gottingen) and Dmitri Sichinava (RAS Vino­gradov Institute of the Russian Language). The section closes with a bibliography of selected works by Zhivov, compiled by Dmitri Sichinava.

 

ANN ARBOR IN RUSSIAN LITERATURE

Olga Maiorova (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), the compiler of this collection of papers and convener of the symposium, "Ann Arbor in Russian Literature: Revisiting Carl R. Proffer and the Ardis Legacy" (Ann Arbor, Michigan, Septem­ber 2013) emphasizes that the significance of Ardis cannot be reduced to opposition to the Soviet regime; their work cannot be perceived as just another Cold War confrontation. She also explores the different roles that Ardis played for the English-speaking and Russian worlds. She analyzes the role of the periodical Ardis published — Russian Literature Triquarterly — and suggests that its liminal nature was an attempt to respond to the crisis of the humanities that was explicitly articulated in the 1980s but was clearly already being felt in the 1970s when the Proffers initiated their project. Ellendea Proffer Teasley, in her article "The 'Why' of Ardis," traces how Carl Proffer, a Midwestern boy and high school basketball star, raised in a technically-inclined family, fell under the spell of Rus­sian literature as an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan and came to read writers no one in his family had ever heard of. She explains the "why" of Ardis by recalling her and Carl's trip to the Soviet Union, where they met amazing writers, poets, and scholars and learned to understand Russia from their perspective, but were shocked to see how the Soviet regime crippled those intellectuals by depriving them of what to the young American academics seemed elementary freedoms. The article offers insightful glimpses into Carl Proffer's interactions with Russians, his self-confidence and leadership qualities, and the inclusive attitude that made it possible for him to make Ellendea an equal — and invaluable — partner in their publishing enterprise.

Alexander Dolinin (University of Wisconsin, Madison), in his article "Carl Proffer and Vladimir Nabokov: Toward a History of Their Dialogue," focuses on Proffer's book "Keys to Lolita" and demonstrates that Proffer's interpretation of the novel is underestimated and ought to be revisited. As Dolinin argues, Proffer's research was ground-breaking in three respects. First, it revealed and proved the importance of literary allusions for understanding Nabokov's texts. Second, Proffer was among the first scholars to discover the series of thematic echoes— recurring patterns for the reader to decode— which are the basis of Nabokov's poetics. Finally, Proffer uncovered the workings of Nabokov's "brilliant" style, which relied on puns and various forms of paronomastic play. Dolinin also explores Nabokov's reaction to "Keys to Lolita" and argues that the writer was, in fact, the main addressee of Proffer's research. Their dialogue, Dolinin claims, explains why the Proffers became the exclusive publishers of Nabokov's Russian texts and served as mediators between Nabokov and his Soviet audience.

Mark Lipovetsky (University of Colorado, Boulder), in his paper "The Ardis Vision of Contemporary Russian Literature: Thirty Years After," emphasizes the resonance the Ardis publications had in the Soviet Union and abroad and argues that the Proffers' aesthetic taste, influenced by Moscow and Leningrad liberal circles, in turn deeply influenced the post-Soviet cultural mainstream. Lipovetsky explores how and to what extent Ardis publishers contributed to the formation of the Russian prose canon. The article focuses in particular on the expectations that Vasily Aksenov's novels aroused for the Proffers, who saw them as harbingers of Russian literature's new aesthetic potential. His grotesque style, with its elements of humor and fantasy, would, they hoped, resurrect Bulgakov's legacy and under­mine the conventional realism that governed Russian prose both in the Soviet Union and among the emigre writers (Solzhenitsyn first of all). Although, as Lipovetsky highlights, Aksenov ultimately failed to meet these expectations, Ardis'stendency to promote his prose reveals Carl Proffer's belief that Russian culture could be more open to avant-garde aesthetics and thus reconnect with its own modernist literature from the turn of the 20th century — the literature that had been marginalized or banned by Soviet censorship.

In his article "Mission, Omissions, Missive to the Future: The Ardis Atlas of Contemporary Russian Poetry," Andrew Reynolds (University of Wisconsin, Madison) discusses the close overlap between the Ardis canon and most contem­porary Russian versions of the canon. Reynolds raises philosophical questions about canon formation and argues that none of the existing models of canon-formation (institutionally-imposed versus aesthetically-determined) can comple­tely explain how Ardis helped to shape the contemporary literary scene. Reynolds focuses on the crucial role that the Ardistranslations played in the formation of the Russian modernist canon in the English-speaking world and highlights how Ardis publications of modernist writers encouraged late Soviet society to embark on its own rediscovery of that literature. The article asks the difficult question of why Ardis's publications promoted a rather restricted list of contemporary poets.

Denis Kozlov (Dalhousie University, Canada), in his article "The Legacy of the Thaw: Soviet Literature and Society during the Late 1960s," traces some of the mechanisms and effects of intellectual change as it took place in Soviet society during the Thaw. The article provides a few important glimpses of the legitimate literary landscape at the end of the 1960s, the moment when the Proffers traveled to the Soviet Union. The climate for official literature, argues Kozlov, evolved through a process of reciprocal relationships with underground literature. The article explores the official cultural politics of the 1960s, the ambivalent reaction of Russian educated society to the Daniel and Siniavsky trial, and the crucial developments around the foremost Soviet literary journal, Novyi mir. Kozlov's re­search reveals the broad intellectual context of the late 1960s that immediately preceded the foundation of Ardis.

 

INTERPRETATIONS

In his article "Regarding the Visual Subtexts of Lines on the Unknown SoldierEvgeniy Soshkin (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) offers a close reading of one of the most obscure poems by Osip Mandelstam, suggesting that the poet may have been prompted to write this poem by the "Scylla and Charybdis" episode in "Ulysses" that reminded him of "Stories of Infinity" by Camille Flammarion and made him refresh in his mind the text of "Hamlet" and certain facts of the Bard's biography.

Konstantin A. Bogdanov (Pushkin House) in his article "Masters' Heels, the Memory of Serfdom and the Meme Theory" argues that the history of serfdom in Russia can serve as an example of construction and conflict existing between official techniques of «politicization of memory» (G. Hartman) and non-official discourses of its social actualization. Among the literary motifs of the second half of the 19th century "reminding" of the suppressed sides of serfdom, the motif of serf girls compelled to "scratch the heels" of their masters was extremely widespread. Today, such a motif, or a «precedential text», of Russian literary tradition, could find its analogy in the notion of meme — a unit of cultural information able to replicate ideas and images justifying «anthropomorphization» or even «somatization» of social representations as «collective memory».

 

NONCONFORMISM REVISITED: UNDER THE AEGIS OF TRAUMATOLOGY

This section is devoted to the ongoing discussion around non-official Soviet poetry and the post-Soviet poetry that continues the nonconformist tradition, in a broad — historico-cultural, linguistic and philosophical — context.

Vladimir Feshchenko (RAS Institute of Linguistics, Moscow), "Between the poverty of language and the abyss of speech. The disintegration of logos as poetic process." Feshchenko examines various forms of linguistic deformation and the disintegration of normative communication in the poetry of Russian Futurists, zaumniks and OBERIU poets through the lens of glossolalia and the myth of the Babylonian mixing of languages, on the one hand; and on the other hand, as a reaction to catastrophic historical events that up-ended ordinary life and the system of meanings. The transitional figure, acting as a sort of mediator between the "de(ideo)logicized" word of Khlebnikov, Mandelstam and Vvedensky and the post-war, post-catastrophic poetry of Gennady Aigi, Elizaveta Mnatsakanova and Anna Al'chuk, turns out to be Paul Celan, whose splintering of the word and of logical connections is also connected with the radical experience of terror, concentration camps and mass death.

Traumatic experience, particularly the military kind, is the focus of the article fromTatyana Vaizer (RSHU, Moscow), "The traumatography of logos: the language of trauma and the deformation of language in post-Soviet poetry." Proceeding from works by Giorgio Agamben and Irina Sandomirskaya, which investigate the language capable of witnessing the unimaginable, and from the lexical, grammatical and syntactic deformations in the poetry of Paul Celan and Robert Schindel, Vaizer discovers similar models of destruction of language and engagement with the experience of the Second World War in the work of younger post-Soviet poets (born in the 1970s-80s), who because of their age could not have had personal experience of these events. In poems by Ekaterina Zavershneva, Eugenia Suslova, Kirill Korchagin and other poets who began publishing in the 2000s, Vaizer traces the transition from the language of trauma to the "trauma" of language; in the latter case, trauma should be understood as an internal fracture, fragmentation, deformation — of style, syntax, unity of meaning. Now we are dealing with a language that no longer refers to traumatic experience, but is traumatic experi­ence. Vaizer connects this transformation with the unprocessed (in the psycho­analytic and political sense) trauma of the Second World War in official Soviet discourse, that is, with the vast range of silences and lacunae in the Soviet and post-Soviet writing of history and educational materials.

 

VISUAL/TEXTUAL

This section presents John Ashbery's programmatic poem, "Self-portrait in a convex mirror," one of the poet's most important works. In a detailed preface to his translation,Ian Probstein (Touro College, New York) touches on the interactions between visual art and poetry, ekphrasis, the mobile boundary between the depicted and the depiction, the problem of signification in the context of the theories of Saussure and Lotman, imitations of imitation in the age of postmodernism, and the fate of art in the age of mechanical reproduction.

 

CLOSE READING

Aleksei Porvin (Saint Petersburg), in "Musings on Nikolai Kononov's Flaneur," analyzes the transformations of the concept — and actual phenomenon — of the "flaneur" (harking back to Baudelaire and Benjamin) in the eponymous novel by Nikolai Kononov. The transgressive sensuality and physiologism peculiar to Kononov as a writer are drawn into questions of gnoseology and historiography.

In "Gorky refined. Inside the novelistic world of Vladimir Rafeenko," Igor Bondar-Tereshchenko describes — not without irony — the evolution and inter- texts of the Ukrainian novelist Rafeenko, who recently received the Russkaia Premiia prize (in the "major prose" category) for his novel Moscow Divertissement (2013).

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