“From Perestroika to Putin and the Pandemic: Russian humour since the mid-1980s to the present”
1) Scope of the special issue and the relevance of the subject:
The term ‘humour’ tends to be used in many different ways. Sometimes its meaning is treated very broadly and is identified with the comic, although many forms of humour are more easily associated with seriousness, melancholy or even sadness. Representations of this phenomenon are known from the works of Nikolai Gogol, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Zoschenko, Abram Terts, Grigori Gorin or Fazil Iskander. Humour can be also found in many forms of cultural expression, such as satire, film comedies, anekdoty, internet memes, etc. In the Russian context it often brings to mind well-grounded theoretical approaches (e.g. Mikhail Bakhtin, Vladimir Propp), popular authors (Igor Guberman, Mikhail Zhvanetsky), certain themes (politics, human vices, stereotypes), genres or stylistic devices (estradnyj yumor, evreyskiy yumor, menippea, sarcasm, cynicism, obscenity, hyperbole).
This special issue of “Studia Rossica Posnaniensia” (2022, vol. XLVII/ 1) wants to uncover new perspectives on the research of humour and satire from the Perestroika all the way to Putin and the corona virus pandemic. In these trying times it seems important to recall that both forms have had a long history in the development of Slavonic literatures, languages and cultures. They have always been and remained one of the important carriers of the reflection on the most essential questions concerning human existence. We would like to continue the discussion on the complexity of the topic in all its variations, inviting multiple perspectives in its study, including new theoretical considerations, experimental methodologies, comparative and interdisciplinary approaches. It is clearly not a saturated subject of study or a case, which is in any way “closed”. In this special issue, we plan to focus on humour and satire in the late Soviet era and in the subsequent decades, as these are periods that are less widely studied, but their analysis can offer a new understanding of the past and the present. This is evident, for instance, in the popularity of Soviet tropes in internet memes or in unique genre forms coexisting with, controlling or competing with conventions in postmodern and contemporary fiction. One of such phenomena is gossmekh, humour appropriated by the state that presumably appeals to the taste of the masses [i], which can be seen as the counterpart of Soviet dissident humour. Whereas some may dismiss this type of humour as “unfunny” or lacking social criticism, the immense popularity of Soviet film in the 21st century, for example, calls for a closer look at the relevance of humour beyond dissident works. Other issues yet to be explored are, for example, how far the division between gossmekh and dissident humour helps us understand humour (or not) and also if, in today’s Russia, humorous cultural expressions targeted at the masses can be considered gossmekh or another term needs to be worked out.
Recent studies on the topic show both the relevance of the subject and its popularity. The publication, in Russia and abroad, of countless collections of Soviet jokes has resulted in the popularisation of some myths, such as the notion that Soviet humour and satire somehow played a part in the demise of the Soviet Union or even gave citizens a form of political power[ii]. Research in the afterlife of Stalin jokes, in turn, shows how the same jokes were “recycled” all the way to the Putin era, with the subject of the joke being randomly interchanged to even include dissident figures, providing parody and social relief in difficult times. “The transformation shows how dangerous it is to use jokes as a source of information either about reality or about people’s attitudes to this reality”[iii].
2) Possible topics and areas of discussion include, but are not limited to, the following:
- New theoretical considerations touching upon today’s understanding of satire, hybridization of generic conventions, fundamental models and concepts of the comic and humour in Russian culture;
- The 21st century reception of Soviet humour, such as that of Faina Ranevskaya’s aphorisms in the internet, or the reception of Soviet heritage on YouTube and other online platforms;
- New perspectives on social humour: gender, class and ethnic relations, taboos, anekdoty about New Russians, “corona” jokes;
- Political and historical verse of the 1980ies, 1990ies, 2000 – ad-hominem-satire (satires on Brezhnev, Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Chernomyrdin, Zyuganov, Zhirinovsky, but also Clinton, Kohl etc.);
- Genres, styles and media: gariki, gubariki, dvushki, aphorisms, short stories, fables, kukly;
- Humour in Russian comedies as the adaptation of the tradition, e.g. Gogol’s caricatures and absurd or the visual manner of Charlie Chaplin etc. (Muratova, Surikova, Bortko, Todorovsky, Rogozhkin);
- Intertextuality as the development of subplots, motifs and literary tradition in contemporary texts of culture (Korolev, Pelevin, Sorokin, Krusanov, Aksenov etc.);
3) Deadlines and organization of editorial process:
Submission of abstracts: 28.02.2021
Decision of the editors’ committee: 15.03.2021
Submission of complete articles: 31.08.2021
Results of reviews: 30.10.2021
Submission of revised articles: 02.01.2022
Publication of the issue: 30.06.2022
Languages of submissions: Russian, German, English and Polish;
Abstracts (1000-1500 characters, in the language of the article) should be sent by email to the editors of the volume: Prof. Prof. h.c. Dr Michael Düring (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dr Elisa Kriza (email@example.com), Prof. UAM dr hab. Beata Waligórska-Olejniczak (firstname.lastname@example.org) by February 28, 2021;
We kindly ask you to submit complete papers (25,000-40,000 characters with spaces including bibliography) through the OJS platform at https://pressto.amu.edu.pl/index.php/strp/login
Editorial guidelines can be found at:
More information about the journal is available at the journal’s website: http://srp.amu.edu.pl/en/about-the-journal/
[i] Dobrenko, Yevgeniy A. (Sostavitelʹ bloka) “Gossmekh”, NLO, 3 (121), 2013.
[ii] Kristof, Nicholas. “To Beat Trump, Mock Him”. The New York Times. 26 September 2020; Aron, Leon. “Russian Jokes Tell the Brutal Truth”. The Atlantic. 29 November 2019.
[iii] Kozintsev, Alexander. “Stalin Jokes and Humor Theory”. Russian Journal of Communication, 2:3-4, 2009:199-214 (204).
volume XLVI, no. 2 (2021)
We would like to devote the next issue of Studia Rossica Posnaniensia to the notion of space in the Russian texts of culture. The spatial turn has become almost an obvious thing in cultural studies around the world, yet within the field of Russian studies understood in their broadest sense there is still a visible lack of inquiries associated with the spatial reality of Russia that are concerned with both literary and linguistic research, especially those of comparative and interdisciplinary nature. Therefore, the profile of the issue will be determined by the examinations of cultural landscapes, regions and cities perceived either as models of reality or as partial representations of local spaces. Additionally, it will be determined by the geography of transcultural regions of Russia, metaphorisation of space, spatial founding myths, literary and cinematographic imagologies examined from the point of view of their language, as well as by the (re)interpretation of the meaning of spatial relationships in the context of ideologies, situations of exclusion, control or oppression. We encourage Authors to submit the papers presenting the analyses of selected texts (case studies) as well as the review papers focused on theoretical or practical approaches to the notion. We hope that the issue will include papers with attempts to develop and apply new methodologies both in historical and contemporary Russian texts. Besides, the issue is definitely open to pondering identity narratives embedded in space, cultural interactions represented in (autobiographic) texts of the Russian emigration, as well as the motives and techniques of magisation of the spatial reality. Obviously, these themes serve only as the initial framework for further exploration of the question of the Russian space.
We sincerely invite you to participate in the project! We accept papers within the character limit between 20000 and 40000. The papers should be formatted in accordance with the journal’s editorial guidelines and written in Russian, English, Polish or German.
We await your submissions until the 30th of November 2020.
We kindly ask you to submit your papers through the PRESSto. platform (https://pressto.amu.edu.pl/index.php/strp/login). In case of technical difficulties please contact the secretary of the journal at the following email addresses: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.