Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Conference "Editing the Soviet Underground"

Part of the Series "Conference on Editorial Problems" 

University of Toronto, November 20-21, 2019

Editing Samizdat – texts created for underground circulation in the USSR after Stalin – meant running certain risks. Of course, the spread of socio-political writing could provoke repressive measures; however, this conference focuses on the threats faced by those dealing with the literary and artistic texts of Samizdat. These threats – sometimes reflected in the material character of the editions – related to cultural loss, destruction of texts and the uncertain status of unofficial cultural values. Moreover, while Samizdat editors, like authors and artists, worked outside and sometimes against official Soviet institutions and norms, many used official connections and resources to realize their agenda (that was, for example, how we possess a transcript of Joseph Brodsky’s trial for social parasitism). The surreptitious nature of cultural production in the late Soviet underground raises fascinating questions about the editing and distribution of Samizdat.  How do social networks, as they intersect with official institutions, make such processes possible?  What kinds of “editing” happen to a text when it is memorized or passed from hand to hand?

Conference participants may address issues arising from editing Samizdat during the Soviet period, or they may speak to the challenges posed by translating and re-editing Samizdat works for post-Soviet audiences. Discussion at the conference will focus on topics including but not limited to: the recuperation of repressed avant-garde and modernist heritages in late Soviet underground culture; the ways in which editing facilitated the consecration of certain Samizdat authors, artists and aesthetic values (such as those associated with Moscow Conceptualism); the fluid boundaries between official and unofficial spheres; the role of social networks; the materiality of oral, written and visual texts in Samizdat; the exchanges involved when Samizdat works crossed borders; authors’ rights and copyright; and editing Samizdat works for digital publication.

The conference will include a reading by translators who worked with formerly Samizdat texts for recent editions in English.

An edited volume will come out of the conference. 

Co-organizers: Ann Komaromi (University of Toronto); Catherine Ciepiela (Amherst College); and Ilja Kukuj (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)

Sponsored by: The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; the Centre for Comparative Literature; the Conference on Editorial Problems at St. Michael's College; the Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Munk School; Victoria College; and the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto

List of Participants

Wednesday, November 20

Alumni Hall, Victoria College at the University of Toronto


Welcoming Remarks from the Chair of the Conference on Editorial Problems

Ann Komaromi, “Samizdat: Extra-Gutenberg Publishing from the Soviet Underground to the Digital Age”

Catherine Ciepela, “Samizdat in the Archive”


Martha M. F. Kelly, “Making and a 2010 Four-Volume Collected Works”

Veronika Korchagina, “Moscow Archive of New Art: Electronic Edition”

Margaryta Golovchenko , “Samizdat Art Periodicals as Public History”

Chair: Alex Moshkin, University of Toronto, Slavic Department

PANEL 2: EDITING & AUDIENCES (2:15-3:45pm)

Rebekah Smith, “Considering Forms: Publishing Ry Nikonova in English”

Josephine von Zitzewitz, “Editing Samizdat Journals”

Yasha Klots, “Censorship without Shores: Shalamov’s ‘Cherry Brandy’ in Tamizdat”

Chair: Margaryta Golovchenko, York University, Art History Department



Yelena Kalinsky , "Selections from Monastyrski"

Ainsley Morse, Bela Shayevich, “Selections from Nekrasov”

Simon Schuchat, “Selections from Dmitri Prigov”

Rebekah Smith, “The Performance of Publishing at Ugly Duckling Presse”

Host: Corinn Gerber, University of Toronto, Centre for Comparative Literature


Thursday, November 21

Alumni Hall, Victoria College at the University of Toronto


Ilja Kukuj, “Filling the Empty Page: The Case of Vasilisk Gnedov”

Ainsley Morse, “All & Any: Vsevolod Nekrasov’s Textual Variations”

Yelena Kalinsky, “Archiving the Unofficial Art World: The MANI papki and the MANI Circle”

Chair: Olga Khometa, University of Toronto, Slavic Department



Paolo Mancosu,"Six Typescripts in Search of a Publisher: Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago and the Source of the CIA (Mouton) Edition"

Chair: Ann Komaromi, University of Toronto