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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Genetic Wars: The Future in Contemporary Russian Popular Literature

27th October 2010, 17:30 to 18:30, Turner Room, Van Mildert College, Professor Henrietta Mondry (University of Canberbury, New Zealand)

Literature occupies a unique place in Russian society. Because of the lack of democratic institutions, it became a social institution in its own right. It promoted political and ideological agendas and thus educated the Russian public and influenced Russian history. During the Soviet era the state exploited this cultural tradition and used literature for the formation of ideal Soviet citizens. Concern about the future was a common theme in classical Russian literature. But what was specific about the understanding of the future? And how does contemporary post-Soviet Russian literature see the future?

Ethnic separatism was among the major factors contributing to the fall of the Soviet Union. Using Alexander Prokhanov's bestselling novels as a focal point, the lecture addresses the phenomenon of Russian nationalism as a reaction to the post-Soviet identity crises in particular, and fears about the future of Russian ethnicity. These are linked to declining population, influx of non-Russian migrants and the loss of strategically important territories.  The lecture demonstrates how these novels incorporate aspects of a new powerful ideology, New Eurasianism, which divides nations into categories of friendly and hostile to the Russian ethnos. It shows how the future is imagined as a biological war fought amongst hostile nations.

Professor Henrietta Mondry is a distinguished scholar of Russian literature and culture at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Her research area is Russian cultural history from the nineteenth century until the present; literature and history of ideas; and culture and politics.  She is currently an IAS and Prowse Fellow, hosted by Van Mildert College.  For further information please visit: 

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