Seminar about Russian Modernism at Uppsala

The seminar is going to explore how new concepts of the author in Russian modernism reactivated archaic concepts of imprint and tactility. The focus will be on Varlam Shalamov for whom “…the author is no observer, no spectator, but a participant in the drama of life (…) Pluto ascending from hell, and not Orpheus descending into hell”. The quotation implies that the Cartesian separation between an observing subject and an observed object – between the self and the world – is impossible. Instead Shalamov proposes a view of the writer as part of the literary space s/he creates. A written, suffering object is internalized in a writing subject. Shalamov’s awareness of himself as an object derives at first hand from his Gulag-experience as a fragile, “porous I”, which had been denied the writer’s possibility of descriptive distance from the events. At second hand the fusion of subject and object can be traced back to the artistic practices of the Russian avant-garde, with which Shalamov became acquainted in the 1920s. Against this double background of revolution and banishment traditional paradigms of image and perception became abolished, reinterpreted or perverted.

Fabian Heffermehl defended his doctoral thesis entitled “The Image Seen from the Inside, Mathematical and Iconoclastic Concepts of Florensky’s reverse perspective” at Uppsala University on 31 October 2015. Currently he is post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages at the University of Oslo. Dr. Heffermehl’s academic interests include Russian art and literature, Orthodoxy, images, icons, relationship between art / literature and mathematics, Russian modernism, Gulag-literature, cultural techniques.