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Durham University

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Publication details for Prof Mikhail Epstein

Epstein, Mikhail (2008). Hyperauthorship in Mikhail Bakhtin: The Primary Author and Conceptual Personae. Russian Journal of Communication 1(3): 80-90.

Author(s) from Durham


This article explores the phemenon of hyperauthorship in intellectual writing: a primary author (hyperauthor) creates a number of secondary authors (hypoauthors), and develops possible conceptual systems on their behalf. The case under consideration is Mikhail Bakhtin and his complex relationship with his friends Pavel Medvedev and Valentin Voloshinov, members of the so called "Bakhtin's circle" (in the 1920s) who are credited with authorship of several books which may have been actually written by Bakhtin himself. Still unclear from biographical and historical perspectives, this problem of authentic attribution of Medvedev's and Voloshinov's texts can be clarified in the theoretical framework of "hyperauthorship" and "possibilistic thinking." This article applies Bakhtin's own theory of the "primary author immersed in silence," as well as Deleuze and Guattari's notion of "conceptual personae," to explain this case of "shared," or "transferred" authorship. The figures of Voloshinov and Medvedev, though historically real, may be viewed as Bakhtin's projections of "ideal," or "utopian" Marxism in linguistics and literary theory.