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The Culture of the Russian Revolution and Its Global Impact: Semantics – Performances – Functions

The Third Annual Conference of the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies "The Culture of the Russian Revolution and Its Global Impact: Semantics – Performances – Functions" took place in Munich on June 2-4, 2016. It was dedicated to the Russian Revolution. With the Centennial of the October Revolution approaching, the presented papers explored the interrelation between revolution and performance, the rhetoric of revolution, the revolutionary semantics of religious beliefs, the perceptions of the revolution particularly in East Asia, and its global impact.

Until the late 1980s, the October Revolution of 1917 served as the undisputed focal point for historical research on Russia. With the collapse of the Soviet Union on the one hand and the rise of cultural history on the other hand, the political and social significance of the caesura has been questioned while later periods have attracted considerably more attention. Yet, for scholars no other event has gained the paramount significance the 1917 revolution had. What is the meaning of this event in history hundred years later? And how have the historiographical debates of recent years led to a reevaluation of the events leading to and triggered by the Revolution?

One focus of the Annual Conference lied on the artistic reactions to the revolution. Papers explored particular performances intending to strengthen the identification of audiences with the ideas of the Russian Revolution in media like theatre and film. Different facets of the rhetoric of revolution and its interconnections with aesthetic phenomena were be also explored, including Lenin’s language and formalist poetics as well as the rhythms of revolution as an aesthetic principle. Other papers addressed the revolutionary semantics of religious beliefs and the interdependencies of religion and revolution. Moreover, the global dimensions of the Russian Revolution were be discussed during the conference. Though its protagonists declared the October Revolution a cataclysmic turning point in world history, they remained far more interested in Germany than, for example, in China. The actual impact of the revolution outside Europe is comparatively understudied. Which factors contributed to the success of the Bolsheviks in Asian Russia, how did Russia’s Asian neighbors view – and react to – the upheavals next door?

You can find the Book of Abstracts here and the program of the Annual Conference 2017 here.

See also the Conference Report of H-Soz-Kult. See also the Review in the Annual Report 2016 of the Graduate School.


Thursday, June 2

17:30 – 18:30 Keynote

Boris Kolonickii (St. Petersburg)

Friday, June 3

09:30 – 12:00 The Performance of Revolution

Ada Raev (Bamberg): Russian Avant-garde Artists on the Stages of Revolution

Laurence Senelick (Medford, MA): Order Out of Chaos. First Steps in Creating a Bolshevik and Proletarian Theatre

Natascha Drubek (Berlin/Regensburg): Revolution and Religion in 1917 – Eisenstein's Intellectual Montages of 1927

Chair: Christopher Balme (Munich)

13:00 - 14:30 The Rhetoric of Revolution

Georg Witte (Berlin): 'The Rhythmic Drum:' Revolutionary Bodies and Revolutionary Languages Between Organization and Ecstasy

Ilya Kalinin (St. Petersburg): How Lenin's Language Was Made: Russian Formalists on Material of History and Technique of Ideology

Chair: Riccardo Nicolosi & Nina Weller (both Munich)

14:45 - 17:00 Revolutionary Semantics of Religion

Tobias Grill (Munich): ‘Another Messiah Has Come:’ Jewish Socialist Revolutionaries in Russia and Their Attitude Towards Religion (1890s-1920s)

Franziska Davies (Munich): Reform or Revolution? Muslims in Russia’s Revolutions of 1905 and 1917

Vitalij Fastovskij (Munich): Dying for the Common Cause: The Value of a Good Death in the Moral Framework of the Revolution (1881-1910)

Chair: Jutta Scherrer (Paris/Berlin)

17:30 - 18:30 Keynote 1

Yuri Slezkine (Berkeley, CA)

Saturday, June 4

09:30 – 12:00 Global Implications I

Martin Aust (Bonn): Globalizing the Russian Revolution. Some Remarks on Historiography

Katerina Clark (New Haven, CT): The Baku Congress of 1920 and the Language of Revolution: the Persian Examples of Velemir Khlebikov and Abolqasem Lahuti

Steven Lee (Berkeley, CA): The Bolshevik Revolution as Asian Revolution: From Vladimir Tatlin to Ai Weiwei

Gerhard Grüßhaber (Munich): From the Baltic to Anatolia: The German Officer Hans Tröbst between Freikorps, Wrangel, Kemalists, and Bolsheviks, 1919-1923

Chair: Tatiana Linkhoeva (Munich)

13:00 - 15:00 Global Implications II

Tatiana Linkhoeva (Munich): The Russian Revolution and the 'Bolshevization' of Asia during the Foreign Intervention, 1917-1925

Yoshiro Ikeda (Tokyo): Time and the Comintern: Rethinking the Cultural Impact of the Russian Revolution on Japanese Intellectuals

Zhang Jianhua (Beijing): The Memory of Restaurant Moscow in Beijing: the Changes of Image of October Revolution and Soviet Culture in Contemporary China

Chair: Andreas Renner (Munich)

15:00 - 15:15 Keynote 2

Alexei Yurchak (Berkeley, CA)

Closing Remarks