Weaving Authenticity: How Russian Literature Can Resist “Post-Truth” Attitudes

05July2017 15:00 - 17:00


Lecture by Ilya Kukulin organized by Boris Noordenbos

The current period in the history of Western societies is widely dubbed “post-truth” – i.e., a period in which the emotional persuasiveness of narratives seems more important than their truthfulness. Attempts to resist this new mode of representation, however, run the risk of returning to a pre-postmodernist idea of a single truth, equally valid for everyone. How to survive mentally in the “post-truth” world without resorting to such a regression? The lecture proposes that one could turn to new types of truth-seeking narratives emerging in contemporary culture, both in literature and journalism. Russia now is one of the main factories of “post-truth” narratives in the world. At the same time, unofficial Russian culture has generated artistic works that engage in novel forms of self-reflection, while attributing personal meanings to historical processes. These narratives carve out possibilities to withstand the proliferation of “post-truth” ideology in Russian culture, and  possibly also in other cultures.

Ilya Kukulin

Ilya Kukulin is a literary critic, poet, and a linguistic scholar. He was born in 1969, graduated from Moscow State University with a degree in psychology, and pursued an advanced degree in Language and Literature at Russian State University for the Humanities, writing a dissertation on the work of Danil Kharms. He is the editor of an on-line literary journal, TextOnly and the book series New Poetry (Novaya Poezia) from New Literary Observer (Novoye Literaturnoye Obozreniye) Press. He has worked as a school teacher and guest lecturer at the Russian State University for the Humanities, and contributed to the radio station "Echo of Moscow" and the Radio Russia program on literature, "Our Literary Museum."In 2002, Kukulin was awarded a grant from the Academy of Russian Contemporary Language Arts for young writers. Since 1997, he has been a frequent jury member for literary prizes around Russia.

Kukulin’s poems have been widely published in Russian magazines and literary journals, as well as in the collections Vavilon and Outskirts (Okrestnosti), and the anthology In Black and White (Chernym po Byelomu). They have been translated into Albanian, Georgian, and Italian. His prose has been published in the anthology Very Short Texts (Ochen Korotkiye Teksti), and his articles have appeared in the journals New Literary Observer, The Banner (Znamya), New World (Novii Mir), Russian Literature (Russkaya Literatura), and others. He frequently publishes articles about Russian poets of the 20th Century including Marina Tsvetaeva and Boris Pasternak, and about Russian memoir-writing.

Time and Place

Room 5.59 in PCHooft, 5 July 2017, 3-5 pm. In order to register please contact Boris Noordenbos: b.noordenbos@uva.nl.


Published by  ASCA