Volume 74 Number 3 Abstracts

Humanizing Soviet Communication: Social-Psychological Training in the Late Socialist Period

Susanne Cohen

Business trainings are not a post-Soviet phenomenon but developed within the Soviet Union beginning in the mid-1970s. The social-psychological training was an interactive method of cultivating communication skills that drew on western methodologies but adapted them to Soviet conditions. It is now considered one of the key sites for the birth of a new practical psychology that encompassed psychotherapy in the late socialist period. While often framed as a scientific intervention into individual communication skills, trainings acquired additional meanings in the Soviet context. For many trainers, transforming language became a way of transforming Soviet social relations without targeting the entire Soviet system. Trainings created a space for reforming the impersonal, distanced registers of “official” Soviet life and imbuing them with more “human” attention to people’s emotions, intentions, and individuality.

“How Well Do You Know Your Krai?” The Kraevedenie Revival and Patriotic Politics in Late Khrushchev-Era Russia

Victoria Donovan

This article examines the state-sponsored rise of local patriotism in the post-1961 period, interpreting it as part of the effort to strengthen popular support for and the legitimacy of the Soviet regime during the second phase of de-Stalinization. It shifts the analytical focus away from the Secret Speech of 1956, the time of Nikita Khrushchev’s full-scale assault on Iosif Stalin and his legacy, to the Twenty-Second Party Congress of 1961, the inauguration of a utopian and pioneering plan to build communism by 1980. I consider how this famously forward-looking program gave rise to an institutionalized retrospectivism, as Soviet policymakers turned to the past to mobilize popular support for socialist construction. I examine how this process played out in the Russian northwest, where Soviet citizens were encouraged to turn inward, to examine their local history and traditions, and to reread these through a socialist lens.

The Friendship Project: Socialist Internationalism in the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia in the 1950s and 1960s

Rachel Applebaum

This article examines the evolution of socialist internationalism in the 1950s and 1960s through a case study of cultural relations between the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. More broadly, it explores attempts by Soviet and eastern bloc officials to integrate their countries into a cohesive “socialist world” by constructing an extensive network of transnational, cultural, interpersonal, and commercial ties between their citizens. Accounts of Soviet-eastern bloc relations during this period tend to focus on the iconic crises in Poland and Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. Yet in the realm of everyday life, the 1950s and 1960s were the apogee of Soviet-eastern European integration. I argue that in the case of Soviet-Czechoslovak relations, the new version of socialist internationalism that developed during these decades was successful in so far as it shaped the lives of ordinary citizens-through participation in friendship societies, pen-pal correspondences, and the consumption of each other’s mass media and consumer goods. As these contacts brought the two countries closer, however, they inadvertently highlighted cultural and political discord between them, which ultimately helped undermine the very alliance they were designed to support.

Topography of Post-Soviet Nationalism: The Provinces-the Capital-the West

Lyudmila Parts

The cultural myth of the provinces provides the contemporary cultural elite with a semiotic apparatus for formulating Russia’s new, postimperial identity. Today, cultural production locates true Russianness outside newly prosperous, multiethnic, and westernized Moscow. In mass culture, the traditional privileging of the center over the backward provinces gives way to the view of the provinces as a repository of national tradition and moral strength. Conversely, high literature and art-house films provide an alternative, harshly critical image of them. In both cases, a particular concept of Russianness is negotiated, one in which the provinces play a central role. Ultimately, both redirect nationalist discourse away from the deeply unsatisfying model of Russia versus the west and instead offer a hermetic national identity based on an “us versus us,” rather than “us versus them,” model.


Unpacking Viazemskii’s Khalat: The Technologies of Dilettantism in Early Nineteenth-Century Russian Literary Culture

Katherine Bowers

This article explores the image of the khalat, or dressing gown, in and around Petr Viazemskii’s 1817 poem “Proshchanie s khalatom” (Farewell to My Dressing Gown). As the poem circulated during the period between its creation and printing, its central image-the khalat-became enshrined as a symbol for early nineteenth-century literary culture around and within the Arzamas circle, emphasizing a creative inner life and an informal approach to writing. The poem mediates between friendship, honor, authenticity, and authorship and the formalities, duties, and expectations of society life. The khalat image appears in later poems, correspondence, and occasional writings by Anton Del’vig, Aleksandr Pushkin, and Vasilii Zhukovskii, among others. Tracing the image through its intertextual influences, extratextual impact, and memetic evolution, I examine the way it contributed to the development of an intellectual network through information transfer during the early nineteenth century and beyond.

Sentimental Novels and Pushkin: European Literary Markets and Russian Readers

Hilde Hoogenboom

This article examines literature in Russia, as opposed to Russian literature, through the window of Tat’iana’s reading in Aleksandr Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, especially two novels by Sophie Cottin. A quantitative, sociological approach to European markets for novels shows that Russians and Europeans were reading the same popular French, German, and English sentimental novels by August von Kotzebue; Stéphanie-Félicité, comtesse de Genlis; August Lafontaine; and Cottin. Pushkin, however, positioned himself in the Russian literary field with the canonical novels of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Samuel Richardson, and Madame de Staël, against the “mediocre” novels of Cottin. Nevertheless, in his ongoing efforts to write Russian novels, Pushkin covertly engaged with popular sentimental novels to integrate their conservative emphasis on duty, virtue, and love with Russian noble life. I argue that a likely intertext for the eponymous heroine of The Captain’s Daughter was Cottin’s European bestseller Élisabeth, ou Les exilés de Sibérie (1806).

Investigations into the Unpoliced Novel: Moll Flanders and The Comely Cook

Emma Lieber

Taking its cue from Lev Tolstoi’s claim, in “A Few Words Apropos of the Book War and Peace,” that the Russian novel is a “deviation from European form,” this article investigates deviance as a formal and thematic aspect of the Russian novel. Concentrating on Mikhail Chulkov’s The Comely Cook as an early exemplar of the Russian novel form, and locating its deviance against the backdrop of Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders (the English novel with which it is most frequently paired), I examine both formal matters and the texts’ thematic and imaginative clusters. These questions of commercialism, capital, and the role of money; of gender difference, the regulation of sexuality and pleasure, and bodily life generally; of Oedipal family arrangements and communal organization; and of repetition and the production of the new are especially at stake in investigating issues of normativity and abnormality, or regularity and deformity, as they are given shape in the works. In particular, this article concentrates on the police as a multivalent literary, and particularly novelistic, construct to present the Russian novel as a distinctively unpoliced and unregulated genre whose lawlessness is brought into relief by the culture of discipline and legality that pervades Defoe’s work.