Russian Poetry in the Marketplace: 1800-1917, and Beyond

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Russian Poetry in the Marketplace: 1800-1917, and Beyond

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Title: Russian Poetry in the Marketplace: 1800-1917, and Beyond
Author: Berg, Aleksey
Citation: Berg, Aleksey. 2013. Russian Poetry in the Marketplace: 1800-1917, and Beyond. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: My dissertation explores ways in which poetic utterances actually do speak against the received idea of poetry as an atemporal and unearthly genre and subtly present their own social and economic agendas. I read the canonical and non-canonical texts of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian poetry with an eye for uncovering the economic and social dynamics of these texts, unveiling their intricate and complicated relations to issues of censorship, copyright, professionalization of literature and the literary market, fashion, marital conventions and practices, the transition from gentry-oriented literature to a bourgeois reading public, formation of national identity, imperial conquests, etc. I argue that poetry in the nineteenth century often did engage the relevant issues of the day, just as the novel did, but it was (and is) the dominant mode of reading that prevents us from recognizing the political and economic inventory of verse. I focus on situations of implicit dialogue, where poetic texts respond to or engage the themes and ideas upheld by the novelistic tradition and often promote a very different, or at least an unfamiliar, disposition of forces in society. My dissertation argues for a new practical mode of reading poetry, a mode of reading which goes against the grain of both the existing scholarship on poetry and also the self-imposed vow of being "somewhat stupid," of refusing or being unable to converse about and investigate social, economic, and political realia.
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