Post-Dissident Studies: Between Collaboration and Dissent in Central Europe
A Graduate Student Conference, September 20th – 22nd, 2013
Deadline for Submission: July 1st, 2013

Sponsored by the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, the Provostial Fund for the Arts and Humanities, and the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University

In the years since the fall of Communism in East Germany, Central Europe, and the Soviet Union, a new space has opened for critical approaches to oppositional, dissident, and unofficial literature. Not only do new historical sources such as state archives contextualize the process of creating literary texts within Communist states, but the twenty years since the collapse of the Soviet Bloc provide necessary critical distance. Defining writers exclusively in terms of their opposition obscures nuanced views of the philosophical, aesthetic, and political constructions offered in their texts. This conference sets out to establish a new vision of evaluating official, unofficial, and semi-official authors, texts, and media that challenges the rhetoric of a dissident and non-dissident binary.

Panels will be organized around time periods or on thematic bases grouping scholars who work on similar concepts in different national literatures. Papers establishing connections between East German authors and writers located beyond the GDR’s borders are especially encouraged.

Possible topics include:

  • Reimagining the history of official, non-official, and unofficial literature in the Communist space
  • The responsibilities of the writer to various publics and audiences
  • Is dissident literature a reliable historical source?
  • Representation of dictatorship in experimental fiction e.g. Herta Müller, Monika Maron, or György Dragoman
  • Creative collaboration amongst groups of writers such as the Prenzlauerberg poets in Berlin or the Lianozovo poets near Moscow
  • Post-1989 literary representations of the Communist era from within the Eastern Bloc
  • New perspectives on the institutions of censorship
  • Reappraisals of author collaboration with governmental cultural regimes
  • Engagement with Socialist Realism, Marxism-Leninism, and revisionism in the Eastern Bloc’s cultural sphere
  • Projection of a history of dissidence onto earlier writers, e.g. Heine, Kafka, or Dostoevsky

Please submit abstracts of 200 – 250 words and a paragraph-long biography, including your expected date of PhD, to [log in to unmask] by July 1st, 2013.

Conference Co-Chairs
Nicole Burgoyne, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University, [log in to unmask]

Daniel Pratt, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Chicago, [log in to unmask]