One of the most successful transnational European projects in the 20th century was Formalism and its heirs — Structuralism and, as some would argue, literary theory as such. Formalism profoundly affected intellectual trends in the Humanities and Social Sciences, well beyond literary analysis and linguistics. This conference will explore how the various local political, social and cultural contexts influenced the development of formalist thought, and how Eastern and Central Europe contributed to its, ultimately, universal career.

The conference marks the centenary of Russian Formalism, commemorating the publication of Victor Shklovsky’s “The Resurrection of the Word” (Voskreshenie slova, 1914), which was not only a milestone in the emergence of Formalism, but arguably also the beginning of the whole project of literary theory. However, in contrast to some other similar endeavors, this interdisciplinary conference focuses on the multinational and multicultural nature of Russian Formalism, and its interactions with/transformations into/influences upon the Prague Linguistic School, Polish Formalism, the Czech and Slovak forms of structuralism, as well as its subsequent Hungarian reconsiderations. 

In this context, the interrelationship between constructions of national and intercultural identities, between expert knowledge in one subject and transmutations of this knowledge into an interdisciplinary enterprise are not just abstract categories, but specific aspects of cultural practices. Shared, contested, disputed and migrating intellectual movements of this kind form an integral part of Eastern and Central European cultural memory  no history of the region, no modern history of ideas can be complete without it.

Topics for discussion will include the emergence of Russian Formalism with reference to the general intellectual context of the time; the migration of the theory beyond the borders of Russia and its integration and involvement into the dialogue with, local intellectual circles of Eastern and Central Europe; subsequent transformations of Russian Formalism into what later became the basis for structuralist theory in the humanities and social sciences, and for literary theory in general.


15 May, Friday

09:30 – Introduction by Penelope Simons (Head of School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Sheffield, UK) and Evgeny Dobrenko (University of Sheffield, UK)


Chair: Evgeny Dobrenko

Jan Levchenko (National Research University – Higher School of Economics, Russia)
The Blind Theory: Russian Film Studies between Petersburg Formalism, Prague Structuralism, and Its Moscow-Tartu Successors

Zoran Milutinovic (University College London, UK)
Russian Formalist Dramatic Theory

Katerina Clark (Yale University, USA)
Viktor Shklovskii, Nikolai Trubetskoi and Nomadism

Patrick Sériot (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
Roman Jakobson and the Linguists' Poetry



Chair: Natalia Skradol

Ilya Kalinin (Smolny College, Saint Petersburg State University, Russia)
A War of Languages: Shklovsky vs. Jakobson

Petr A. Bílek (Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)
Roman Jakobson Between the Poles of ”Gehobenes Kulturgut“ vs. ”Gesunkenes Kultrugut“ in 1930s Czechoslovakia

Tomáš Glanc (University of Zürich, Switzerland)
Prague Structuralism against Russian Formalism: Figures of Denial of Intellectual Heritage

Evgeny Ponomarev (Saint-Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts, Russia)
Marxist Versions of Formalism: Grigory Gukovskiy and György Lukács



Chair: Katerina Clark

Sergei Zenkin (Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow)
Russian Formalism and the Idea of History

Tomáš Hoskovec (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic)
Atlas du structuralisme européen classique: Method­ological Reflections on Grasping a Scientific Past

Bohumil Fořt (Institute for Czech Literature, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague)
Literary History Between Russian Formalism and the Prague School


16:15-17:45 – KEYNOTE

Galin Tihanov (Queen Mary, University of London, UK)
The Memory of Theory: Russian Formalism and Its Legacy

16 May, Saturday

09:00 – 10:45 PANEL 4: BETWEEN CULTURES (1)

Chair: Marci Shore

Hans Günther (University of Bielefeld, Germany)
How Russian Formalism Came to Germany (the 1960s and 1970s)

Josip Užarević (University of Zagreb, Croatia)
Russian Formalism and the Zagreb Stylistic School

Robert Gáfrik (Institute of World Literature, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava)
The Formal Method in Slovak Literary Studies

Tamás Scheibner (Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest, Hungary)
Hungarian Structuralism in the Making: Challenging Realist Aesthetics in the 1960s


11:00 – 12:45 PANEL 5: BETWEEN CULTURES (2)

Chair: Tamás Scheibner

Mihhail Lotman (University of Tartu, Estonia)
Formalist Traditions in Tartu Semiotics

Loreta Mačianskaitė and Dalia Satkauskytė (Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore, Vilnius University) 
Episodes of Russian Formalism in Lithuanian Culture

Alexander Dmitriev (National Research University – Higher School of Economics, Russia)
Ukrainian Formalism: Theme and Variations

Andrzej Karcz (Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw)
Polish Literary Studies from Formalism to Structuralism



Chair: Petr A. Bílek

Dušan Radunović (University of Durham, UK)
The Return of the (Aesthetic) Object: Towards a Reevaluation of Russian Formalism on the Principles of Systematic Aesthetics

Marci Shore (Yale University, USA)
To Break the Spell of Automatization: Ostranenie, Obnazhenie, and the Phenomenological Epoché

Ondřej Sládek (Institute of Czech Literature, Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno)
From Formalism to Structuralism: The Epistemological Basis of Jan Mukařovský´s and Roman Jakobson´s Poetics

Peter Steiner (University of Pennsylvania, USA)
Formalists and Bakhtin: Interactive Intellectual Matrix and Game Theory



Chair: Peter Steiner

Aage Hansen-Löve (University of Munich, Germany)
From Roman Jakobson's Linguistic Turn to Postverbal Mediality

Tomáš Kubíček (Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic)
With Roman Jakobson from Formalism to the 21st Century

Igor Pilshchikov (Moscow State University, Russia / Tallin University, Estonia)
A Web Resource on Moscow Linguistic Circle: New Primary Data and Research Tools

Concluding remarks