The Slavic Colloquium presents:
Lyrical Nomadism: Vladimir Mayakovsky and the Democratic Potential of the Lyric
The democratic potential of literature has usually been considered through the lens of the novel, specifically the novel’s capacity to capture different voices and languages, as well as through its appeal to a broad readership. In contrast to this dominant trend in literary theory, this talk conceptualizes the democracy of literature through the lyric form, as represented by the poetry of Vladimir Mayakovsky. In order to reveal the democratic potential of the lyric, I argue that it is necessary to move away from the analytical categories of prose, such as polyphony, heteroglossia, dialogism, ethnographic description, among others, and to forge an alternative understanding of literary democracy on the basis of what I call “lyrical nomadism.” With the help of posthumanist feminist theory, I trace the basic features of lyrical nomadism—the formation of a non-unitary collective subject, the enactment of a heterochronous lyrical present, and performativity. By developing these features, I show how Vladimir Mayakovsky’s poetry serves as a prototype not only for an alternative literary democracy but also for eco-critical and fem-poetry in Russia today.
Irina Denischenko is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Georgetown University. Her work focuses on 20th-century literature, visual art, critical theory, and women’s history in Central and Eastern Europe, especially Russia, Czechia, and Hungary. She has published articles on Czech avant-garde photopoetry and Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of cognition, as well as a number of book reviews and translations. She is currently completing her book manuscript on Vladimir Mayakovsky and the politics of aesthetic form, which examines the lyric’s capacity for democratic representation alongside theories of the novel and feminist-posthumanist thought. She is coeditor of a forthcoming collection on Dada in Central and Eastern Europe and of a volume of new Bakhtin translations. She holds a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Comparative Literature from Columbia University and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Stanford.
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