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Noontime Scholars Lecture - Kirill Maslinsky, "The trace of the 'Thaw' in the emotional palette of Soviet children's literature"

Event Type
101 International Studies Building (910 S. Fifth St., Champaign)
Feb 21, 2017   12:00 pm  
Kirill Maslinsky (Fulbright Fellow, Illinois Wesleyan University)
Free and open to the public.
Originating Calendar
Russian, E. European & Eurasian Center: Speakers

Recently, the period of the ideological “Thaw” during Khrushchev's rule has attracted a new wave of attention and interpretations in Russian cultural studies. One notable new focus in the discussion involves the understanding of the epoch's special conditions as a change in the emotional regime deemed appropriate for public discourse and cultural artifacts. This type of fracture in emotional standards is represented by a well-known discussion of sincerity in literature, in which critics appealed to the authors to revise clichés of socialist realism in representing human feelings. A parallel discussion happened in children's literature after the publication of Lidia Chukovskaya's critical paper “Rotten tooth” in 1953.

It remains an open question, though, whether the acute awareness of the lack of “emotional truth” in the literature that emerged during the Thaw period had any lasting effects on the later Soviet canon of writing for children. In this lecture, Kirill Maslinsky will present a study that can provide evidence to answer this question, using a combination of natural language processing, machine learning tools, and selective reading, to show the changes in the representation of different emotional experiences in the corpus of just over 100 prosaic works for children written by Soviet authors from the late 1930s to the late 1980s. The results allow for a more fine-grained analysis of the nature of the change in emotional representation than was assumed during the Thaw, as well as suggest that more attention should be paid to how female and male authors present emotional expression differently in their works.

Dr. Kirill Maslinsky is currently at Illinois Wesleyan University as a visiting Fulbright scholar from St. Petersburg, Russia, where he works at the Higher School of Economics. He is a Research Fellow at the Laboratory for Sociology of Education and a Lecturer at the Department of Sociology, where he teaches various courses and conducts research seminars on computational methods for text analysis in social science. His scholarly interests include the anthropology and history of education and childhood during the Soviet era, contemporary secondary education in Russia, and computational discourse analysis for literary and anthropological studies. He has published widely on these subjects both in Russia and abroad. This is his first visit to the United States. As a Fulbright Fellow, Kirill works at IWU and at Heartland Community College, teaching courses on the Anthropology of Childhood and conducting lectures on the history of Russian education.

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