We are a working group on the literature and arts of the socialist world. The group considers the art and literature produced in the multinational USSR and the PRC, in Soviet satellite states and other communist and socialist countries, and by writers, artists, and institutions affiliated with the international communist movement in one or another of its variants. Our group is made up of scholars whose collective range of expertise allows us think about   world art and literature as a richly diverse object of study, and it operates in the context of a crop of recent monographs, edited volumes, and symposia that have solidified conversations in Slavic, East Asian, and Global South studies that stake a claim for the role of international communism in creating the institutions of world literature and art as we know them today. It is to these institutions and the actors behind them that we want to turn our attention, but also to the literary and artistic production that occurred in their ambit.

For the foreseeable future, the group meets online three times per semester. Participation is by invitation. However, it is our intention, in due course, to convert our group into an institute, to be housed at one of our home universities, which will hold symposia and talk series, organize group publications, and provide a directory of interested scholars.

In-Person Workshop Meeting “Archives of World Socialism”
April 19-20, 2024 in Amherst/Mass.

Conveners: Christine Ho, Michael Kunichika, Kevin Platt

The nation-based archives of socialist states bely the world-making ambitions of socialist culture. Despite widespread recognition of the scalar complexity of socialist internationalism and the reciprocity of exchange between its manifold forms of culture across geographies, socialist culture’s claims to internationalism are still typically siloed within national contexts. This workshop brings together the members of the Cultures of World Socialism working group to examine, share, and compare the documents and objects of socialist art and literature to gain a multipolar view of the socialist world between the multinational USSR, PRC, Soviet satellite states, and other communist and socialist countries. In considering the art and literature of socialism as a single interconnected corpus, this workshop recognizes the imperative for scholarly collaboration across borders, linguistic competencies, and disciplinary fields. Moving away from the authority of the national archive, the workshop seeks to reframe the diverse art and literature of socialism as an alternative archive, one that registers and envisions multiple modes of internationalism. Lastly, by attending to specific objects (manuscripts, printed books and ephemera, artworks and designed everyday objects), the planned symposium will serve the workshop’s movement from the history of artistic and literary institutions into the domains of materiality, aesthetics, and poetics.

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Preliminary Onine Meeting for the Workshop
Friday, February 2, 2024, 12-1 PM EST

On Friday, February 2, 12-1 PM, we invite you to a meeting to share your interests with the archivists and curators of the W.E.B Du Bois Center, Deutsche Film Aktiengesellschaft (DEFA) Film Library, and UMass Special Collections (Communism and Socialism); Yiddish Book Center; Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art; and Amherst Center for Russian Culture. We hope this will be an opportunity for the archivists and curators to better understand your interests, and for everyone to get a chance to explore the catalogues and start thinking about what objects, collections, or materials they would like to view. The goal will be to compile a viewing list by the end of February so that the organizers can set a schedule for the April 19-20 meeting.

Even if you do not plan to attend the workshop in person, we invite you to attend this meeting to get to know these collections. The meeting will be recorded and shared afterward for anyone who cannot attend.

Access Zoom Meeting