Volume 68 Number 2 Abstracts

The Perception of Emotional Coldness in Andrei Turgenev’s Diaries

Andrei Zorin

In this article, Andrei Zorin discusses the generational shift in the techniques of self-analysis that occurred in Russia at the turn from the eighteenth to the nineteenth centuries as revealed in the diaries of Andrei Turgenev, a document that has attracted the attention of many scholars but still remains largely unpublished. Young Turgenev was influenced both by his upbringing in the circles of Moscow Freemasons and by the literature of German Sturm und Drang and especially by the early tragedies by Friedrich Schiller. In his self-reflections, his dramatic love story, and his attempts to translate Alexander Pope’s Eloisa to Abelard into Russian, Turgenev demonstrated his quest to resemble his favorite literary characters and the despair caused by his failure to meet these self-imposed standards. Both his quest and his personality as revealed in the diaries can serve as a symbol of the new emotional culture that emerged in Russia and became prevalent there throughout the Romantic age.

Fear: Soldiers and Emotion in Early Twentieth-Century Russian Military Psychology

Jan Plamper

This article provides an analysis of the locus of fear in military psychology in late imperial Russia. After the Russo-Japanese War and the 1905 Revolution, the debate coalesced around two poles: “realists” (such as the military psychiatrist Grigorii Shumkov) argued that fear was natural, while “romantics” upheld the image of constitutionally fearless soldiers. Jan Plamper begins by identifying the advent of modern warfare (foreshadowed by the Crimean War) and its engendering of more and different fears as a key cause for a dramatic increase in fear-talk among Russia’s soldiers. He links these fears to literature, which offered-most prominently in Lev Tolstoi’s Sevastopol Sketches (1855)-some of the vocabulary soldiers could use to express their fears. Mikhail Dragomirov’s fear-centered military theory during the Great Reforms was the next milestone. Plamper closes by sketching the history of fear after World War I, from Iosif Stalin’s penal battalions to the rehabilitation of military psychology under Nikita Khrushchev and beyond.

Poetics of Disgust: To Eat and Die in Andrei Belyi’s Petersburg

Olga Matich

The article examines the aversive emotion of disgust and its deployment in the visual arts and in the premier Russian modernist novel, Andrei Belyi’s Petersburg, which has not been considered in regard to its affective poetics before. Based on recent studies of the emotions in cultural history and theory, it explores the philosophical, psychological, and aesthetic aspects of disgust as a response to something viscerally and/or morally repugnant. The emotion, induced by the experience seen or imagined close up, provokes the observer’s recoil as defined by cultural norms. As such, disgust is performative in spatial terms. Olga Matich argues that movement away from the loathsome image or idea affords the possibility of making the experience cognitively readable or legible, that disgust creates a space in which the individual negotiates her emotional as well as moral response. Yet she claims that aesthetically-and in certain instances ethically-disgust, which is always about the boundaries of the permissible, is also liberating: it offers society, its artists, and their consumers the opportunity to transgress established norms. Through extensive close readings of Petersburg, Matich shows that Belyi’s experimental novel does precisely that, challenging the reader not to avert her readerly gaze from that which is unsettling and to appreciate, even to delight in, his shocking metamorphic image-making. She calls Petersburg a modernist exemplar of baroque aesthetics, characterized by excessive affect and grotesque representation, especially of the corpse, invoking the transience of life and dissolution of form.

“With a Shade of Disgust”: Affective Politics of Sexuality and Class in Memoirs of the Stalinist Gulag

Adi Kuntsman

This article addresses a topic seldom discussed in gulag studies: same-sex relations in the camps. In particular, it deals with affective politics of sexuality and class in gulag memoirs and the role of disgust in the formation of sexual and class boundaries. It approaches disgust as existing between the individual and the social, the subjective and the historical, the internal and the external, and traces the ways the gulag memoirs constitute the disgusting, the disgusted, and the boundary between them. At the center of the article are descriptions of same-sex relations in the Kolyma camps of the 1930s-1950s by Evgenia Ginzburg and Varlam Shalamov. Based on a critical reading of these and other memoirs, Adi Kuntsman reveals how same-sex relations among the common criminals are constructed by the memoirists as disgusting because they go against gender norms and against class perceptions of sexual morality. Kuntsman shows how these perceptions of the appropriate, embedded within the habitus of the intelligentsia, are transformed in the memoirs into the universal category of humanness, locating the common criminals, and, by association, anyone who engages in same-sex relations, beyond the bounds of humanity.

Between Ideology and Desire: Rhetoric of the Self in the Works of Nikolai Chernyshevskii and Nikolai Dobroliubov

Konstantine Klioutchkine

Departing from the familiar scholarly focus on the ideological content of works by intelligentsia forerunners, this article examines the record of everyday life in their private and public writing. Konstantine Klioutchkine argues that their obsessive focus on ordinary experience indicated that articulating mundane desires was as important to the two writers as expressing progressive views. As professional journalists, Nikolai Chernyshevskii and Nikolai Dobroliubov organized their experience primarily by way of writing. Accordingly, the article explores rhetorical procedures accommodating both ideology and desire in their influential account of themselves as prototypical new men.

The Covert Design of The Brothers Karamazov: Alesha’s Pathology and Dialectic

James L. Rice

A future revolutionary, Alesha Karamazov is, at nineteen, an inexperienced boy who lives in a monastery and who has been considered strange since birth. Fedor Dostoevskii endows him with hysteria-then a serious psychopathology with convulsions that were clinically seen as analogous to epilepsy, the morbus sacer from which Dostoevskii himself suffered. Recognized as an epidemic problem, hysteria in this novel is elaborately deployed as a symbol of Russia’s social ills and the underlying cause of far-reaching personality changes in Alesha (for better or worse), preparing him for a heroic destiny. Although hysteria was soon altered and later eliminated as a clinical syndrome, James L. Rice enables us to read the novel for the first time in the light of documented medical history.

Pollution and Purification in the Moscow Human Rights Networks of the 1960s and 1970s

Barbara Walker

In this article Barbara Walker examines the theme of (samo)zhertvovanie in the Moscow human rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Some participants in that movement have expressed emotional satisfaction in the belief that they were motivated by the desire for self-giving; but that belief has sometimes been received with doubt. Walker uncovers the social phenomenon of a charity movement for the benefit of political prisoners that, she argues, lies near the social and emotional heart of the human rights movement. An important theme of the charity movement, whether real or constructed, is emotional purification of a sense of personal and social contamination stemming from participation in what some experienced as corruption in Soviet state and society. This article draws on ideas of spiritual atonement and salvation through altruism as explanatory cultural factors in this phenomenon.