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Ilya Kukulin

Fellow in Research Area 1 "Competing Communities"
December 2019 - January 2020

New Communicative Regimes in Poetry and Multilingual Literary Communities in a Post-Soviet Space

One of the most important processes evolving in post-Soviet Russian-language literatures can be described as a crisis of linguistic mononormativity. There are many Russian-language cultures emerging in the post-Soviet countries, and for the most part, the Russian turns out not to be the only "working language" for them. In literary communities, especially in poetic communities, one can observe the complex plays of language usage(s) when Russian can be contextualized and inscribed in different aesthetical and social-cultural systems. More and more translingual (or bilingual) writers emerge in these literatures, not only in post-Soviet space as such but also among writers of "USSR origin" living in other countries. All these processes can be interpreted as emergence of cultural, linguistic polynormativity in the post-Soviet space. Such linguistic polynormativity was caused by evolutionary processes brought about with dissolution of the USSR but was also strongly accelerated by chain(s) of political events that began in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and hostilities in Eastern Ukraine.

The essence of Ilya Kukulin’s project at EXC 2020 is that it is comparative. The project is going to trace and to compare the processes in literary communities of contemporary Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and Kazakhstan, and to take into account readers responses to their current activity. Methodologically, the project relies on the concepts of deterritorialization and "minor literatures" coined and theoretically grounded by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, as well as newly revisited theories of "consciousness as polylogue" elaborated in the books by Mikhail Bakhtin and Valentin Voloshinov in the late 1920s. The project further bases on a concept of a personality as a multiplicity of dialogues and polylogues, involving different discourses, styles, and regimes of communication. Ilya Kukulin’s aim is that this concept of personality will allow his unfolding research to avoid references to reified "identity" while revisiting Michel Espagne’s theory of cultural transfer.

Ilya Kukulin is an associate professor of cultural studies at the National Research University -- Higher School of Economics (HSE) (Moscow). He has published widely on Russian literature (especially poetry), the history of education in the USSR, cultural practices of internal colonization in Russia, unofficial social thought in twentieth-century Russia, and the political discourses of Russian social media. In 2015, he was awarded the Andrei Bely Prize for his monograph Machines of Noisy Time: How Soviet Montage Became an Aesthetic Method of Unofficial Culture (Mashiny zashumevshego vremeni. Kak sovetskii montazh stal metodom neofitsial’noi kul’tury), and in 2017, the Bella Prize for the year’s best article on contemporary poetry. In 2019, he published a collection of articles and essays Breakthrough to an Impossible Connection (Proryv k nevozmozhnoi svyazi).