2019 Editing the Soviet Underground
ANN KOMAROMI, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures,
and Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Toronto
Editing Samizdat – texts created for underground circulation in the USSR
after Stalin – meant running certain risks. Of course, the spread of
socio-political writing could provoke repressive measures; however, this
conference focuses on the threats faced by those dealing with the
literary and artistic texts of Samizdat. These threats – sometimes
reflected in the material character of the editions – related to
cultural loss, destruction of texts and the uncertain status of
unofficial cultural values.
Moreover, while Samizdat editors, like
authors and artists, worked outside and sometimes against official
Soviet institutions and norms, many used official connections and
resources to realize their agenda (that was, for example, how we possess
a transcript of Joseph Brodsky's trial for social parasitism). The
surreptitious nature of cultural production in the late Soviet
underground raises fascinating questions about the editing and
distribution of Samizdat. How do social networks, as they intersect
with official institutions, make such processes possible? What kinds of
editing happen to a text when it is memorized or passed from hand to hand?
The conference will be held on 20 and 21 November 2019 at Victoria
College and the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in the
University of Toronto.