Soviet Journals Reconnected in Moscow

August 18, 2017

After a year of intensive work on my digital humanities project, it’s time to branch out. This is what I really love about digital humanities: it allows me to present my scholarship with greater immediacy than a journal article can provide –
although I currently have an essay about the project under review and writing it was great fun.

I’ll be teaching a workshop that uses my data set at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow in October. They’re holding a their second “Late Summer School in Digital Humanities” in cooperation with the University of Tartu. Here’s the abstract for my workshop. Now it’s time to start preparing the data set and think about didactics for the workshop. I’ll write more about the issue on here soon…

Digital Approaches to the Study of Thick Journals under Late Socialism

The thick journals of the 1960s and 1970s are commonly associated with canonical authors and editors – Novyi mir with Tvardovskii and Solzhenitsyn, Iunost’ with Kataev, Polevoi and Aksenov and so forth. This workshop approaches periodicals on a different scale – as a phenomenon involving dozens of editors and thousands of authors. Although these actors provided the majority of contributions to these journals, they often don’t find consideration in common narratives of literary and cultural history.

In this tutorial, we will explore digital methods for the study of periodicals as socially constructed sites of cultural production, informed by theoretical frameworks such as Eikhenbaum’s literaturnyi byt, Bourdieu’s theory of the field or Latour’s Actor-network Theory. From this angle, the tutorial attempts to develop a digital methodology to analyze late socialist every-day cultural practice that can transcend canonical narratives.

The dataset is provided by the digital humanities project Soviet Journals Reconnected at Princeton University. It is based on an index of all contributions to the six central Moscow-based periodicals: Iunost’, Novyi mir, Molodaia gvardiia, Znamia, Oktiabr’ and Nash sovremennik. Besides complete bibliographical information, the dataset also captures tangential data on editors, print runs and page counts between 1958 and 1972. Based on participants interests, the tutorial can cover network analysis (using Cytoscape and Gephi), tools and theories for the visualization of quantitative data (RAWGraphs) and other experimental approaches to the quantitative evaluation of genres and topics.

The tutorial will be held in English and Russian.