[Kolloquium] Yvonne Howell - Socialist Romanticism

03.02.2015 (08:46)

On 21 January 2015, the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies played host to Dr. Yvonne Howell, Associate Professor of Russian and International Studies at the University of Richmond, who spoke at length on the subject of the cultural output of the late-Soviet period.

Following recent forays into historical photography and the world of film, the final colloquium of the winter semester returned once again to more literary terrain. However, in a change to the advertised programme, Dr. Howell did not speak about science fiction and Eurasianism, but instead chose to focus on a late-Soviet aesthetic, which she termed “socialist Romanticism”.  Over the course of her lecture, Dr. Howell drew on examples from the œuvre of authors such as the Strugatsky brothers and Andrei Bitov, and argued that these works represent a departure from socialist realism, and the emergence of a new artistic trend, in which radical dreamers, renewed faith in native folk wisdom, a sense that Enlightenment values may have failed and even Gothic elements come to feature strongly.

When the floor was opened up for questions, there ensued a lively discussion, probing in particular Dr. Howell’s understanding of Romanticism, and the relationship between developments in the Soviet Union and other countries, including the United States and the rest of the Eastern bloc.  For both audience and speaker alike, it was a most profitable morning of scholarly exchange.

Frances Jackson