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Edited by Olga Voronina

A Companion to Soviet Children’s Literature and Film offers a comprehensive and innovative analysis of Soviet literary and cinematic production for children. Its contributors contextualize and reevaluate Soviet children’s books, films, and animation and explore their contemporary re-appropriation by the Russian government, cultural practitioners, and educators.

Celebrating the centennial of Soviet children’s literature and film, the Companion reviews the rich and dramatic history of the canon. It also provides an insight into the close ties between Soviet children’s culture and the Avant-Garde aesthetics, investigates early pedagogical experiments of the Soviet state, documents the importance of translation in children’s literature of the 1920-80s, and traces the evolution of heroic, fantastic, historical, and absurdist Soviet narratives for children.

Poets of Hope and Despair

The Russian Symbolists in War and Revolution, 1914-1918

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Ben Hellman

In Poets of Hope and Despair: The Russian Symbolists in War and Revolution (1914-1918), Ben Hellman examines the artistic responses and the philosophical and political attitudes of eight major Russian poets to the First World War and the revolutions of 1917. The historical cataclysms gave rise to apocalyptic premonitions and a thirst for a total spiritual metamorphosis. A major topic of discussion was the role of Russia in this process. Other issues raised were modern Germany, the future of a divided Poland, the occupation of Belgium, and the dilemma of the Russian Jews. In the wake of the military setbacks, hopes were mixed with feelings of fear and despair, all expressed in fictional as well as in nonfictional form.

On the Fringes of Literature and Digital Media Culture

Perspectives from Eastern and Western Europe

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Edited by Irena Barbara Kalla, Patrycja Poniatowska and Dorota Michułka

On the Fringes of Literature and Digital Media Culture offers a polyphonic account of mutual interpenetrations of literature and new media. Shifting its focus from the personal to the communal and back again, the volume addresses such individual experiences as immersion and emotional reading, offers insights into collective processes of commercialisation and consumption of new media products and explores the experience and mechanisms of interactivity, convergence culture and participatory culture. Crucially, the volume also shows convincingly that, though without doubt global, digital culture and new media have their varied, specifically local facets and manifestations shaped by national contingencies. The interplay of the common subtext and local colour is discussed by the contributors from Eastern Europe and the Western world.

Contributors are: Justyna Fruzińska, Dirk de Geest, Maciej Jakubowiak, Michael Joyce, Kinga Kasperek, Barbara Kaszowska-Wandor, Aleksandra Małecka, Piotr Marecki, Łukasz Mirocha, Aleksandra Mochocka, Emilya Ohar, Mariusz Pisarski, Anna Ślósarz, Dawn Stobbart, Jean Webb, Indrė Žakevičienė, Agata Zarzycka.

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Jean Webb

Abstract

The films Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton, 2010) and Paddington (Paul King, 2014) are re-workings of well-known English children’s books taking the texts in new directions. Each film has an underlying theme of the experience of the migrant.

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Emilia Ohar

Abstract

The chapter discusses the children’s new media, especially the children’s e-book, drawing extensively on the example of Ukrainian experience. It describes the pre-conditions of the dissemination of new media and communication technologies in Ukraine, and outlines perspectives for the development of such media of children’s literature in terms of publishing factors and broad cultural aspects, in particular the culture of consumption of e-books by young Ukrainians and their parents. These issues are addressed in the context of interaction of traditional book culture and new digital culture.

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Kinga Kasperek

Abstract

This chapter aims to present selected mechanisms which govern amateur criticism on the Polish Internet. The author is particularly interested in the blog-posted reviews and the criteria serving to distinguish between amateur critics and professional reviewers on the Polish Internet. She compares bloggers’ book reviews with ones by professional critics and indicates relevant style differences. She also delves into the amateurs’ competence and motivation, as well as discusses the reliability of bloggers, pointing to their collaboration with publishers in the process of writing reviews. She concludes that, due to the urge that bloggers adapt to their readers’ expectations, amateur criticism on Polish blogs follows different rules: the report about a book is far more important than its interpretation, the language is less demanding, and the assessment is superficial. Nevertheless, the Internet amateurs enjoy more trust than professional critics, due to the formers’ reliability, which may seem paradoxical given their commercial collaboration with some publishers.

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Michael Joyce

Abstract

In the shadow of the first of two recent, horrific terrorist attacks upon Paris, and responding to Szymborska’s injunction in “Children of Our Age” that “all affairs – yours, ours, theirs – are political affairs,” this chapter sets her poem in dialogue with both an online 2014 Vinevideo featuring the digital artist King Bach and Blanchot’s essay“ Rousseau” to summon digital media toward substantive political and cultural changes once central to artistic practice. Szymborska’s insistence that “whatever you don’t say speaks for itself,” and that “even when you take to the woods/you’re taking political steps,” provides a context for this summons as does Blanchot’s notion that Rousseau risked his true nature in confronting a double bind between succumbing to the “evil” of writing and the “lie of literature,” and giving over to a “ravishing change” of “a new enthusiastic relationship with truth, freedom, and virtue.” The chapter argues that digital media must likewise risk recovering its initial idealistic fervor to likewise engage its audiences in something other than interactions that make no mark in the real world, instead presenting entanglements of the sort physicist and philosopher Karen Barad speaks of wherein “‘past’ and ‘future’ are iteratively reconfigured and enfolded through the world’s ongoing intra-activity.”

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Indrė Žakevičienė

Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to ponder upon the problem of narrative, genre and the reader’s cognitive characteristics or abilities to respond to the text in the realms of digital media and print literature. The influence of the digital medium on print literature is discussed drawing on the concept of narrative proposed by Marie-Laure Ryan. The examples of texts by Mantvydas Leknickas and Vytautas Martinkus reveal mutual relations between the digital medium and particular genres. In the context of Lithuanian literature, virtual space and ability to demonstrate creativity that awakens readers’ cognitive capacities can be treated as a background against which various new forms of print literature emerge. The reader’s role in contemporary literature is ambiguous as sometimes s/he appears as a dictator while on other occasions s/he turns into the consumer of digital products or even into the creator of the poet, as is the case with Leknickas. The dictator’s role is more vivid in the context of authorial genre selection: prose is more popular than poetry, and the novel is more involving and easier saleable than the short story.

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Barbara Kaszowska-Wandor

Abstract

The chapter focuses on the growing popularity of horror aesthetics in new forms of literature as defined by the changed conditions of its material production and reception. An attempt is made to reveal the links between the horror imagination and the growing importance of haptic aesthetics and the haptic modality of reading.

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Agata Zarzycka

Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to analyze various contemporary appropriations of the figure of Edgar Alan Poe in order to reflect upon the multivocality and complexity of the discursive environment generated by convergence culture. Poe as a cult figure wanders from the realm of canonic literature to subcultural Gothic aesthetics and pop cultural appropriations, to the sphere of participatory practices culminating in the Internet-supported nerdcore movement. Thus, the literary origin of Poe’s popularity is recontextualized in a flexible network of audience-based phenomena, which exemplifies productive exchange between mainstream media and cultural niches. In the process of such exchange, the realm of convergence plays with the cultural significance of literature, which becomes not so much a final confirmation of as rather a precondition for the expansion and diversification of the Poe icon’s cultural relevance.