Volume 67 Number 2 Abstracts

“Kennst du das Land?” The Uncertainty of Galicia in the Age of Metternich and Fredro

Larry Wolff

During the Napoleonic wars the future existence of Habsburg Galicia was regarded as uncertain, and in the period following the Congress of Vienna the identity of the province was likewise unclear. The eighteenth-century creation of Galicia gave way to the nineteenth-century attempt to create Galicians and to discover a non-national provincial meaning of “Galicia,” capable of reconciling and transcending national, religious, and linguistic differences. In this article Larry Wolff juxtaposes the political perspective of Metternich and the literary perspective of dramatist Aleksander Fredro in order to analyze the imperial and provincial dynamics of the idea of Galicia, with further attention to the public sphere of newspapers and journals, and the cultural perspectives of Galicians like Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart (the son of the great composer) and Józef Maksymilian Ossoliński (founder of the Ossolineum library in Lviv). This article traces the evolving cultural meanings of Galicia up until 1835, the year of the death of Habsburg Emperor Franz and the year that Fredro was denounced by a Polish critic as a “non-national” writer. Especially in Fredro’s celebrated comedies, it is possible to discern the submerged ideological tensions of empire and province that shaped Galician identity in the early nineteenth century.

Competing Languages of Czech Nation-Building: Jan Kollár and the Melodiousness of Czech

David L. Cooper

In the modern era, the institution of literature is being reconceived across Europe as a national institution. But the new paradigm of national literatures requires a remaking of literary discourse, including the transformation of critical terminology, and this results in literary discourse becoming politicized. By analyzing the history of the term libozvučnost (melodiousness) in the Czech national literary revival, David L. Cooper demonstrates how this seemingly innocent literary term became a political lightening rod for friends pursuing the same national program. This strongly suggests that, in the formative era of national literatures, using literary issues to discuss politics is not simply a matter of instrumentalizing literary criticism for covert political activity but that discussing literary values is directly political. The example of libozvučnost also reveals how the “borrowed” discourses of Romanticism and nationalism were fundamentally remade to respond to the modern Czech situation.

Between Spiritual Self and Other: Vladimir Solov’ev and the Question of East Asia

Susanna Soojung Lim

In this essay, Susanna Soojung Lim examines the philosopher Vladimir Solov’ev’s representation of China and Japan in his theory of Pan-Mongolism. Emerging at the disjuncture between Solov’ev’s ecumenism and the geopolitical realities of contemporary history, Pan-Mongolism was a creation onto which the philosopher projected his anxiety and disillusionment at the failure of his vision. Lim begins by surveying Russian perceptions of East Asia before the 1850s and situating Solov’ev within the popular discourse of the “yellow peril.” Discussing how Solov’ev recapitulates previous notions of this east, she considers Pan-Mongolism in terms of an acute Russian response to the historical and cultural changes originating in China and Japan at a period when the modernization of these nations was challenging the existing relationship between, and indeed the very categories of, east and west. A hybrid construct shaped by Russian occidentalism as well as orientalism, Pan-Mongolism is an idea that reveals both the strength and weakness of Solov’ev’s utopian universalism.

“Banality of Evil,” Mimicry, and the Soviet Subject: Varlam Shalamov and Hannah Arendt

Svetlana Boym

In this article, Svetlana Boym proposes an interdisciplinary approach to the everyday practices in the gulag at the crossroads of literature, political theory, and history. Boym places Soviet accounts of the gulag in the comparative context of the twentieth-century reflection on totalitarianism and terror by drawing on Hannah Arendt’s theory of the banality of evil, judgment, and imagination. There is something inassimilable in Varlam Shalamov’s prose: it confronts the experience of extremity but does not offer redemption. It resorts to the mimicry of Soviet discourse and the technologies of the gulag, but only to challenge any coherent conception of Soviet subjectivity, either enthusiastic or defiant. Boym examines Shalamov’s uses of clichés, attention to intonation, blemish, mimicry, and estrangement. Instead of performing ideology, Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales expose the breaking points of Russian and Soviet cultural myths, giving new insight into reading historical documents and understanding gulag memory in post-Soviet Russia.

Julia Kristeva: Exile and Geopolitics of the Balkans

Dušan I. Bjelić

Julia Kristeva, taking a psychoanalytic approach to the question of exile and exilic identity in Strangers to Ourselves and other works, makes a distinctive contribution to the field of exile studies. She constructs the Balkans as geopolitical analog to the psychoanalytic concept of “archaic mother,” the unconscious source of carnage and violence. She proposes “Oedipal revolt” as a kind of national psychotherapy to connect individual Balkan subjects with their unconscious desire for the maternal space-which will free them to be civilized by internalizing the law of the father. Kristeva even sees this Oedipal reconstruction as a necessary precondition to the establishment of “intimate democracy” in the Balkans. In identifying her “archaic mother” as the Balkan east, however, and in formulating her project of Oedipal revolt, she denigrates the Balkans (in particular, Bulgaria, her country of origin) and discursively elevates France-and “French taste”-to the top of her civilizational hierarchy.

“Genocide Denial” Laws as Secular Heresy: A Critical Analysis with Reference to Bosnia

Robert M. Hayden

“Heresy” is developed here as an analytical term for the criminalization of speech questioning the basic tenets of a belief system, such as internal criticisms of state socialism or denial of the applicability of the term genocide to some mass crimes in a European Union that purports to make central the protection of human rights. European legislation to criminalize “genocide denial” is critiqued through a close analysis of international legal decisions dealing with whether “genocide” took place in the Bosnian war of 1992-95. Although granting both the facts as these courts found them and the serious criminality of the actions involved, Robert M. Hayden argues that calling them “genocide” broadens the definition of that term to the extent of losing the possibility of uniform application. Criminalizing “genocide denial” is thus not only contrary to principles of free speech and intellectual inquiry but manifests the same problem that Amnesty International identified in its reports in the 1980s on the vagueness of the “verbal crimes” provisions of the criminal laws of the formerly socialist countries. Hayden concludes that the punishment of heresy is a manifestation of power by a political elite that holds its values and assumptions to be immune from challenge.

Comment: In Support of the Legal Determination of Genocide

Sari Wastell

This comment responds to Robert M. Hayden’s concerns by highlighting the importance of contextualizing definitions of genocide and by advocating that determinations of genocide be legally defined. Sari Wastell argues that legal determinations are contingent and contestable when established as “adjudicated facts,” that the law is the most appropriate venue for broaching these debates, and that the proposed genocide denial legislation that worries Hayden cannot target legitimate inquiry into the coherence of legal definitions of the crime of genocide. While reports, rumors, and accusations of genocidal activity might well be the impetus for the establishment of ad hoc tribunals such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the existence of these international bodies is precisely aimed at determining the “truth” of these claims in a legal sense.

Comment: On the Meaning of Genocide and Genocide Denial

Eric D. Weitz

Robert M. Hayden raises two very significant issues: He argues against laws that criminalize genocide denial, and he challenges the notion that a genocide occurred in Srebenica during the ex-Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s. Yet Hayden misreads the basis of the Hague Tribunal’s genocide conviction in the Krstić case and raises faulty comparisons in regard to limitations on free speech. The fundamental basis of the Tribunal’s decision was that by killing seven to eight thousand Muslim men, Serb nationalists intended to prevent the Srebenica Muslim community from reproducing. Genocide denial laws have little in common with attacks on heresy in the medieval and early modern past. Moreover, a full consideraton of the problem of genocide and free speech would have to include cases in which the affirmation of genocide is criminalized, as in contemporary Turkey.

In medias res: A Diary of the Moscow Theater Season, 2007-2008

Monika Greenleaf

In this essay, Monika Greenleaf explores some reasons for, and directions of, the Moscow theater’s growth as a cultural stimulus in Vladimir Putin’s increasingly imperial, ideologically unified Russia. Focusing on four factors, the first part suggests why the theater, unlike the film industry, resisted collapse in the 1990s: directors’ studio theaters, the new “writer’s theater,” the development of “autonomous and self-sustaining” institutions, and theater finance. The second part examines two functions of the theater in a postliterate age: to forge a richer sense of Russian identity by offering mimetic contact with, and choice among, many epochs of its historical and verbal heritage and to offer a traditional locus of resistance to the new regime of privatized spaces and bodies. Using a selection of current plays that reproduce past prose works in the present, Greenleaf analyzes the aesthetic effect of this encounter on the audience and its potential ideational ramifications.