GLORIOUS: Digital Poetry in Today’s Russia

Investigator: Dr Josephine von Zitzewitz

This project is funded by ERC Horizon2020 (MSCA-Individual Fellowship)

 

What GLORIOUS investigates:

 1) Russian Poetry on the Web

Internet literature – “seteratura” (set’= web and literatura= literature) – has been the most significant literary phenomenon in Russia during the past 15 years. “Seteratura” thrives because, historically, the Russian literary scene features far fewer small presses than e.g. the UK and the USA. Moreover, Russia has no strong copyright culture, and web publication is not considered inferior or an impediment to print publication. The “seteratura” boom takes place on various platforms: online journals that function much like print journals, with editorial committees and submission procedures; specialist repository sites such as Novaia literaturnaia karta Rossii (http://www.litkarta.ru/), Vavilon: Sovremennaia russkaia literatura (http://www.vavilon.ru/) or Stikhi.ru (http://www.stihi.ru); and individual authors’ channels on social media such as Zhivoi Zhurnal (LiveJournal), VKontakte, Facebook and YouTube.

The medium of the internet, especially social media, has a major impact on the mechanisms of publication as well as on the texts themselves, making possible genre hybrids where the text is supplemented with, or exclusively represented by, elements of performance, music and visual art. The presentation of such poems is semantically charged; they cannot be simply read aloud or conveyed outside the internet, thus challenging our very definition of poetry.  

 2) Russian Poetry in Translation

Translation of Russian poetry is a very vibrant field. Although theoretical issues of translation remain topical, little has been done to recognise how theory and practice fertilise each other. Anglophone academia neglects translation practice; scholars do not receive enough credit for their translations; translation is underrated as an (impact-generating!) result of research. Some recent efforts, e.g. Cambridge University’s Conversations in Translation series and Bangor University’s AHRC-sponsored Poetry in Expanded Translation Network, indicate that change is slowly underway and this is an opportune moment to embark on more specific research that targets Russian-language poetry on the internet.

 What GLORIOUS does:

1) Trace, describe and analyse the online presence (texts, other literary activities, ‘curated persona’) of five individual poets – established as well as upcoming writers, a variety of online platforms and a mixture of ‘traditional’ versus hybrid-genre poetic styles. The poets are Irina Astakhova (YouTube, VKontakte), Aleksei Tsvetkov (Zhivoi Zhurnal), Kseniya Zheludova (VKontakte), Vera Polozkova (personal website, VKontakte, YouTube ) and Dmitrii Vodennikov (Facebook).

Analyse the networks of these and other poets on specialist sites, in particular sites which use the innovative possibilities of the web to a maximum, e.g. the feedback-based ranking of Stihi.ru or the geographical model employed by Novaia literaturnaia karta Rossii, which pursues the ambitious aim of representing the current map of literary Russia at the time of creating it and promotes electronic poetry, e.g. through collaboration with festivals such as Poetronika.

2) Analyse the poetics of two of these poets as they are represented on the web, translate a representative amount of their work and collaborate with other scholar-translators to create joint publication, such as a contemporary-Russia feature for a major translation journal, with the aim of highlighting two key facts:

  • translation is an integral part of the academe’s contribution to cultural diversity and understanding
  • scholars are often best placed to make cutting-edge developments in the arts accessible to a broader public