Call for submissions



ULBANDUS, the Slavic Review of Columbia University, invites short abstracts (200-300 words) for submissions (of no more than 8,000 words) to be published in our next (and twentieth!) issue, (RE)WRITING HISTORY.

Please send your abstract to [email protected] by January 15, 2020.

Ulbandus is catalogued on JSTOR and the MLA International Bibliography. We welcome submissions from faculty, graduate students, and independent scholars in any field. Though faculty members sit on the advisory board, the production, editing, and management of Ulbandus is carried out entirely by the graduate students of Columbia University's Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.

“Russia's past was amazing, its present is more than marvellous, and as for the future, it is greater than anything the wildest imagination could picture; that is the point of view for examining and writing Russian history.”

Alexander Benkendorf, founding head of the Special Corps of Gendarmes under Nicholas I (see below for citation)

An emerging national consciousness swept across Europe at the turn of the nineteenth century, a time when the German Idealist Johann Gottlieb Fichte first introduced the concept of the nation-state. At about the same time, Alexander I appointed Nikolai Karamzin court historian. With his History of the Russian State, Karamzin fired the first shot (or was it?) in what would become a long tradition of reflecting on national history, whether in historiographic or fictional form. Since then, writers, dramatists, filmmakers, and not least of all historians, have attempted to write Russian history—but history is not only one. And indeed, history can be recast, redacted, rewritten to suit the needs of a certain group or ideology.

This issue of Ulbandus seeks to explore the role of writing and rewriting history in the construction of a shared or contested reality, whether past, present or future, and identity, whether national, collective, or personal—not only in Russia but throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. Considering the imperial attitude to history evidenced in the quote above, the later, Soviet relation to time appears not unfamiliar (take, for example, the socialist realist dictum to depict reality “in its revolutionary development”). And with the death of the Soviet project, in an age of ‘post’s (post-Soviet, postmodern, post-truth?), we find ourselves confronted with divergent, often conflicting metanarratives, to explain the course of what is to come and what has already come. For this reason, we want to highlight especially the practice of appropriating, obfuscating, or just plain falsifying history in the contemporary political, literary, and cinematic imagination. How, we ask, has the Putinist regime compensated for the death of the Soviet metanarrative?

We welcome submissions on topics including, but certainly not limited to:

  •  historical fiction, theatre, and cinema
  • historical cover-ups
  • historical re-imaginings
  • war literature and film
  • time-travel fiction (cf. the popadantsy)
  • imperial history in Soviet rhetoric
  • Soviet redactions of earlier Soviet history
  • the socialist realist attitude to history
  • national/regional histories under Soviet rule
  • Putinist appropriations of medieval, imperial, or Soviet history
  • Russian appropriations of other Slavic histories
  • memorials and monuments
  • museum exhibitions (ex. the current ‘Rossiya – moya istoriya’ [Russia – my history] exhibit)

The Bol’shoi slovar’ tsitat i krylatykh vyrazhenii, by Konstantin Dushenko (Moscow: LitRes, 2019), dates the quote above to 1836. Whether it is factual is, of course, up for debate—and you are encouraged to debate it. This translation comes from Solomon Volkov, St. Petersburg: A Cultural History (New York: Free Press, 1995), 35.