"The Poetry of the Gulag as Literary Testimony: Theoretical and Epistemological Basis and a Description of the Corpus" Report by Claudia Pieralli
On November 14, 2019, in the framework of the seminar "West and East: Universalism of Culture", the International Laboratory for the Study of Russian and European Intellectual Dialogue held a lecture by Professor Claudia Pieralli
Professor Claudia Pieralli presented a body of poems created by victims of political repression in the Soviet Union, from the point of view of published collections and major scientific works relating primarily to texts of the Stalin era. For the study and definition of this literary phenomenon of the history of Russian culture of the twentieth century, there were identified theoretical and epistemological frameworks. It was, firstly, about the opportunity to consider these literary texts in connection with the concept of evidence and, secondly, about an attempt to identify a certain specificity of the structural and aesthetic interaction of the witness function with the literary and artistic transformation in a special case of poetry. This body of texts was considered as a material for studying the status of a poetic word as an aesthetic means, capable of giving historical (and artistic, more broadly - socio-cultural, philosophical) evidence of the Soviet concentration system. At the lecture, artistic techniques were identified with the aid of which the witness function is carried out.
Further, a detailed systematization of the corpus of poetry was proposed, based on historical and typological criteria. The productivity of the proposed methodology is based on the key concept of “zone poetry” as a literary trace of political repression synchronized with imprisonment in the USSR.
In this multi-component theoretical setting, the corps of poetic texts of political prisoners is one specific whole in the history of Russian literature of the twentieth century.
The leader of the event was V. K. Kantor, head of the IL for the Study of Russian and European Intellectual Dialogue.