CFP: AATSEEL 2018: Mimesis in Russian Art and Theory

(posted on Monday, 12 June 2017)

If you have recent work on Dostoevsky (or anyone else!) related to realism and representation, please consider submitting it to our AATSEEL 2018 continuing panel stream, “Mimesis in Russian Art and Aesthetic Theory.” Submissions accepted at https://www.aatseel.org/cfp_main. More on AATSEEL streams at: http://www.aatseel.org/program/conference-streams/

Mimesis in Russian Art and Aesthetic Theory:In the Poetics, Aristotle gave shape to the idea of the mimetic artwork as a fiction: the representation of an action, with the power to intellectually and emotionally engage its audience independently of fidelity to the factual truth. Understood in this way, a mimetic work entails both “world-creation” and “world-imitation” – it is at once a self-enclosed fictional heterocosm, and a depiction of a world knowable outside itself (cf. S. Halliwell, The Aesthetics of Mimesis, 2002). Russian literature, art, and aesthetic theory have long been marked by an acute tension between these two faces of mimesis. This tension has social and experiential implications that we hope to continue exploring in the second year of this stream.

Participants might consider mimesis in relation to Russian’s social formations. When political, cultural, and institutional circumstances give art and literature a strong claim to authority about reality and the inner ‘truth’ of things, how does the fictional and aesthetic status of mimetic art become – implicitly or explicitly – problematic? Alternatively or in addition, they might tackle problems pertaining to aesthetic experience as such, especially as these problems have taken shape in the context of Russian art, literature, and aesthetic theory. How does mimesis engage the various facets of our aesthetic experience, including emotion, cognition, and creative play? Some other possible topics include: utopian visions in realist texts; the interplay between visual and verbal mimesis; the relationship between mimetic and ethical capacity in both artists and spectators; “aesthetic” and “radical” critics’ conceptions of realism and verisimilitude; and questions about the ideal experience and effect of the mimetic work of art — as envisioned in the aesthetic theories of writers from Belinsky, Chernyshevsky, Dobroliubov, and Pisarev to Tolstoy, Viach. Ivanov, Nabokov, and Bakhtin, or as woven into mimetic works themselves, from the realist prose of Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, or Chekhov, to the realist painting of the peredvizhniki, to twentieth-century works of Symbolism, socialist realism, and beyond.