Events in Modern Languages & Cultures
Russian Cultural and Historical Studies Russian Poetry in a Changing State: The Twentieth-CEntury Canon after 1991, Katharine Hodgson [Exeter University]
The composition of the literary canon (works granted exemplary or representative status as 'classics' through inclusion in the educational curriculum, anthologies, literary histories) is something that changes over time, reflecting what is felt to be important for the present day and for the future. In post-Soviet Russia, at a time of far-reaching social, political, and economic changes, the canon of twentieth-century poetry familiar from school textbooks was opened up to works by émigré and underground writers. The mass of newly available material offered an opportunity to debate whether and how the canon should be remade. Uncertainties over Russia's identity and future direction are reflected in the evident difficulties in arriving at a consensus about which poets should be declared 'classics', with opposing views from supporters of Russian nationalism and poetic experimentation. Meanwhile, the development of the internet has produced a proliferation of poetry sites, which might give some indication of popular opinion, and may even place the very idea of a canon in question.
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