Boris Gasparov presenterar sitt nya projekt vid SU
Onsdagen den 24 mars kl. 13.00-14.45, lokal E 413:
"From building the future to the evolving present: early Socialist Realism as a cultural paradigm"

The paper explores a general fatigue from avant-garde aesthetics, with its imperatives of fragmentariness, formal experiments, and the authorial position of "estrangement," which could be sensed world-wide in the late 1920s and early 1930s. As a reaction against dominant aesthetic patterns of the 1910s-early 1920s, a new quest for the "grand style" and the appellative mode of art arose, leading to the re-emergence of epic artistic forms of grand duration, tinged with "native-soil" populism. This trend could be prompted by ideological pressures, as in the Soviet Union, or by economic ones, as in the New Deal America; however, its purely aesthetic and psychological dimensions should not be underestimated. Paradoxically, the officious repudiation of "formalism" and exhortations for an ideological engagement and populist-epic "simplicity" of the artistic form coincided, at least in part, with the inner development of many artists, moreover, facilitated their liberation from imperatives of hard-core avant-garde aesthetic. Boris Pasternak and Sergey Prokofiev in Russia, John Steinbeck and Aaron Copland in America could be viewed as some cases in point. The paper examines the Socialist Realism novel of the early 1930 against the background of this major cultural watershed.

Torsdagen den 25 mars 11.30-13.00, lokal E 497
"The Silver Age Heritage and the Rise of Stalinism: Sergei Prokofiev in search for a new voice (late 1920s-early 1930s)"

The paper explores psychological, ideological, and political underpinnings of the evolution of Prokofiev's musical style from its eruptive avant-garde beginnings to the epic mode in the second half of the 1920s, a trend that has reached its culmination in his Soviet period. Prokofiev's deep involvement with the Christian Science church since the early 1920s eventually found a correspondence with his gradual rapprochement with the "Bolshevisia," alongside his graduate alienation from the émigré social and artistic milieu, a process that culminated in his accepting the Soviet citizenship in 1932 and settling there permanently four years later. A striking paradox of the situation was that Prokofiev's quest for a spiritual renewal of his self and his art, predicated on his involvement with Christian Science and with the spiritual heritage of Russian Silver Age, found a resonance with new trends that emerged on the Soviet cultural scene beginning in the late 1920s, which we identify in retrospect as the "epoch of Stalinism". What Prokofiev found in his contacts with Soviet culture and life, was a way of regaining fundamental spiritual values of the Silver age and reclaiming his allegiance to the national cultural soil, that was not nostalgic but forward-looking. When he expressed his conviction that he was destined to be born "once again," this formulation resounded with Pasternak's collection of poety Second Birth (1932), published at the dawns of the new age. For both artists, the "new birth" signified spiritual transcendence of overt stylistic conventions of modernism, while maintaning, in a renewed epic and populist mode, spiritual quests of the turn of the century.