Russia is an enigmatic, mysterious country, situated between East and West not only spatially, but also mentally. Or so it is traditionally perceived in Western Europe and the Anglophone world at large. One of the distinctive features of Russian culture is its irrationalism, which revealed itself diversely in Russian life and thought, literature, music and visual arts, and has survived to the present day. Bridging the gap in existing scholarship, the current volume is an attempt at an integral and multifaceted approach to this phenomenon, and launches the study of Russian irrationalism in philosophy, theology, literature and the arts of the last two hundred years, together with its reflections in Russian reality.
Contributors: Tatiana Chumakova, David Gillespie, Arkadii Goldenberg, Kira Gordovich, Rainer Grübel, Elizabeth Harrison, Jeremy Howard, Aleksandr Ivashkin, Elena Kabkova, Sergei Kibalnik, Oleg Kovalov, Alexander McCabe, Barbara Olaszek, Oliver Ready, Oliver Smith, Margarita Odesskaia, Ildikó Mária Rácz, Lyudmila Safronova, Marilyn Schwinn Smith, Henrieke Stahl, Olga Stukalova, Olga Tabachnikova, Christopher John Tooke, and Natalia Vinokurova.
Questions of collective identity and nationhood dominate the memory debate in both the high and popular cultures of postsocialist Russia, Poland and Ukraine. Often the ‘Soviet’ and ‘Russian’ identity are reconstructed as identical; others remember the Soviet regime as an anonymous supranational ‘Empire’, in which both Russian and non-Russian national cultures were destroyed. At the heart of this ‘empire talk’ is a series of questions pivoting on the opposition between constructed ‘ethnic’ and ‘imperial’ identities. Did ethnic Russians constitute the core group who implemented the Soviet Terror, e.g. the mass murders of the Poles in Katyn and the Ukrainians in the Holodomor? Or were Russians themselves victims of a faceless totalitarianism? The papers in this volume explore the divergent and conflicting ways in which the Soviet regime is remembered and re-imagined in contemporary Russian, Polish and Ukrainian cinema and media.