Narratives from Behind Barbed Wire
The application deadline for participation in the conference "Narratives from Behind Barbed Wire: 'Witness Literature' in the Historical and Political Context of the 20th Century" is May 1, 2021.
Historians, literary critics and philosophers are invited to participate in "Narratives from Behind Barbed Wire: 'Witness Literature' in the Historical and Political Context of the 20th Century." The conference will be held in a mixed format on May 21–22, 2021 at the Bobrinsky Palace (58–60 Galernaya Street).
The conference is devoted to the phenomenon of "witness literature". Only recently has witness literature begun to be considered a distinct form of literature, as the concept itself is not yet fully established. To this day, such literature is not well explored and it falls into an interdisciplinary gap between history, literary criticism, and political philosophy. The genre affiliation of witness literature remains a controversial issue as well. Eyewitness narratives of 20th century political disasters are still qualified as "biography", "diary", "memoirs" or "historical document". In other words, this phenomenon is locked in traditional, outdated genre characteristics that impede the understanding of its true essence. In addition, the existing studies tend to examine witness literature as a part of national literary traditions, which is only partially correct; in order to be properly understood, this literature requires an approach that goes beyond national boundaries. At the same time, the corpus of texts that can be categorized as "witness literature" is significant and includes such different names as Anna Frank, Varlam Shalamov, Alexandre Solzhenitsyn, Robert Antelme, Lidia Guinzburg, and Efrossinia Kersnovskaya. Many of these texts are still waiting for researchers who are ready to listen to the voices of those who, according to the famous formula of Walter Benjamin, "are lying prostrate".
- Inhuman historical experience and difficulty of framing it with ordinary language; the language of the witness
- Media and testimony: photography and film versus immediate accounts of real survivors
- Paradox of the witness; the living and the dead, true and false testifiers
- The human being and its degradation by totalitarian regimes, boundaries of humanity
- The role of the body, living and dying in witness literature
- Witness literature, human rights, and civil society
- Witness literature as a warning to posterity; the role of witness literature in education.
The conference will include a discussion on a wide range of texts from diverse experiences, including the Cambodian Killing Fields, Apartheid in South Africa, the Holocaust, the Rohingya Refugee Crisis, the Soviet GULAG, and Uyghur ethnocide.
The deadline for applications is May 1, 2021. To submit an application please visit website. In the application, indicate the following information: name, affiliation, title, description of the talk, about 100–150 words.
Working languages: English and Russian.