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Arts & Humanities Research Council
British Academy

CEELBAS POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH TRAINING WORKSHOP: Literary Theory Masterclass with Professor Galin Tihanov

Start: Feb 11, 2013 02:00 PM
End: Feb 11, 2013 05:00 PM

Location: University College London: Gordon Square (16-18) Room 101

The Birth and Death of Modern Literary Theory: Eight Years Later

‘In the second decade of the 21st century we seem better positioned to recognise and admit the demise of literary theory as a distinct discipline of scholarship.’

Prof. Galin Tihanov (Common Knowledge: 2004)

Galin Tihanov masterclass

This one-day workshop aimed to develop the research training skills of doctoral researchers working with literary texts in Russian and Eastern European studies. Key themes included:

  • Responding to the decline in status of literary theory as distinct methodological approach
  • Re-visiting key texts of early Russian Formalist literary scholarship
  • Developing theoretical appraoches to literature in translation
  • Post-socialist literature and memory studies

In addition to the above, the event provided a valuable networking opportunity for young scholars to make new contacts within this field. The programme opened with a masterclass led by Prof. Galin Tihanov who discussed his seminal article 'Why did modern literary theory originate in Central and Eastern Europe? and why is it now dead?' considering his original work in light of recent updates and reflections. This was followed by six further short presentations from current PhD students working in related fields, who introduced their own methodological approaches and challenges (see full programme and presentation titles). 

A podcast of Professior Tihanov's presentation is now available:

About the keynote speaker:

Galin Tihanov holds the George Steiner Chair of Comparative Literature at Queen Mary, University of London. He was previously Professor of Comparative Literature and Intellectual History and founding co-director of the Research Institute for Cosmopolitan Cultures at the University of Manchester. His most recent research has been on exile, cosmopolitanism, and transnationalism. His publications include three books and a number of (co)edited volumes, as well as articles on German, Russian, French, and Central-European intellectual and cultural history and on cultural and literary theory. Some of his work has been translated into Bulgarian, Danish, French, German, Macedonian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, and Slovene. He is currently completing books on the uses of the Romantic tradition in twentieth-century European and American culture and on Russian literary and cultural theory between the World Wars.

Professor Tihanov’s influential article 'Why did modern literary theory originate in Central and Eastern Europe? and why is it now dead?' was published in Common Knowledge eight years ago. The article presented an ambitious overview of the rise and fall of one of the 20th century’s dominant intellectual currents - literary theory - and its relation to the cultural space of Russia and Eastern Europe. It examined literary theory’s roots in philosophy, its emergence in response to the changing social relevance of literature in inter-war Eastern Europe and the impact of institutional factors arising from 20th century nation-building processes. However, the conclusion was that recent changes in the configuration of these broad factors had also resulted in the irrevocable decline of literary theory as a distinct intellectual project.