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PhD ceremony Mr. B. Noordenbos: Messages from the black hole. Post-Soviet literature in search of a Russian identity

When:Th 23-05-2013 at 14:30

PhD ceremony: Mr. B. Noordenbos, 14.30 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Dissertation: Messages from the black hole. Post-Soviet literature in search of a Russian identity

Promotor(s): prof. J.J. van Baak

Faculty: Arts

Boris Noordenbos’s dissertation investigates, through a series of case studies, how Russian literature from the period 1990-2010 deals with the question of a Russian identity. He demonstrates how playful and ironic approaches of this vexed question are in this period gradually outshined by literary endeavors to formulate more self-confident visions of a unique Russian ‘character’, ‘idea’, or ‘mission’. Noordenbos shows how recurring references in literature to ‘the empire’ as Russia’s natural form of existence signal a new cultural self-assertiveness. In recent literature ‘the empire’ is connected with a wished-for social and geographical unity, and a supposed historical continuity of Russian culture. His analyses suggest that these shifts in the literary representation of identity result in part from a widespread fatigue with popular prose from the 1990s, that was inclined to address ‘the Russian question’ in an ironic or relativistic tone. This observation informs the structure of this dissertation: Part I of the book investigates the preoccupation of postmodernist writers like Viktor Pelevin and Vladimir Sorokin with a Russian identity crisis; Part II analyses works by Pavel Krusanov, Dmitrii Bykov, Eduard Limonov and Aleksandr Prokhanov that move, in deeply ambivalent ways, beyond post-Soviet and postmodern doubts about a ‘Russian identity’.

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