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.

“Red Networks: Post-War Art Exchange”
Friday, March 10, 2023, 12.30PM – 2PM EST

Presenters: Vivian Li (Dallas Museum of Art), Nora Annesley (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Douglas Gabriel (Seoul National University), Adri Kácsor (Northwestern University), Klara Kemp-Welch (University of London), Raino Isto (University of Maryland, College Park), Sohl Lee (Stony Brook University).

This workshop reflects upon a special issue of Art History, which critically revisits the often-overlooked institutional circulations of art and art professionals, exhibitions, and other forms of cultural production within the Communist sphere from the late 1940s to its peak in the early 1960s during de-Stalinization, and eventual departure by the 1980s from the international ambitions of a ‘socialist’ globalism. As this collection of essays underscores, while the promise of ‘friendship’ and ‘solidarity’ in socialist internationalism offered a variety of transnational opportunities for art and artists, at the same time these complex concepts were also dependent on an unevenness of power, and not necessarily only with the Soviet Union.

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