CfP: Subjectivities after Stalin: The Khrushchev and Brezhnev Eras

European University at Saint PetersburgSubjectivities after Stalin: The Khrushchev and Brezhnev Eras

 Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
April 25-26, 2014
Deadline for submitting abstracts: November 15, 2013
Deadline for submitting full papers: April 1, 2014

 The European University at Saint Petersburg, together with Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Goznak” launched a Call for Papers for their upcoming conference “Subjectivities after Stalin: The Khrushchev and Brezhnev Eras” which will take place in Saint Petersburg in April 2014.

The last decade has witnessed the publication of a number of richly researched studies of the Khrushchev period. Increasingly, studies of the Brezhnev era and late socialism generally are also appearing. Many of these histories focus on the ways in which Soviet citizens responded to the change and continuity that characterized the post-Stalin Soviet Union. Our picture of late socialism has been fleshed out or reframed by investigations of Soviet citizens’ reactions to Gulag returnees, to the growth of mass media, and to changes to official language, among many other social, cultural, and political phenomena. Our conference hopes to build on these investigations by focusing squarely on the Soviet subject her/himself. We aim to examine the manifold personality ideals in circulation after Stalin and above all the ways in which Soviet citizens assimilated, recast, and/or challenged these ideals. In so doing, we seek to combine the above historiographical trends with the turn by historians of the early Soviet era in the 1990s and 2000s to investigation of “Soviet” and other subjectivities.
We hope that our conference will lead to productive exploration of the reception of the personality ideals of the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras. The result would be the creation of a picture of the post-Stalin Soviet Union that includes various subjectivities within its frame. We invite proposals from scholars of different disciplines, including anthropology, art history, history, political science, Slavic studies, and sociology.

Eligible topics

Questions asked in proposed papers might include, but are not limited to, the following:


  • What personality ideals were proposed in the late socialist era and how did they change over time?
  • How did they relate to Stalin-era, Lenin-era, or pre-revolutionary ideas?
  • What led to the creation of new ideals or subtle or significant changes to the old? Pre-revolutionary holdovers, resistance informed by alternative readings of Marxism-Leninism, socio-economic modernization, new practices, new discursive regimes, the Cold War and exchange with the West, Eastern Europe, and the Third World?
  • Who, both within and beyond Party-state institutions, advanced and monitored the ideals?
  • To what extent did similar ideals exist in different cities, regions, or republics? For different age groups, genders, classes, or nations?
  • Can we refer to the ideals as “modern” subjectivities?
  • What words or phrases were used to describe the ideals? For example, to what degree did the term New Soviet Man persist into the post-Stalin years?
  • In what artistic, literary, or other representational forms were they presented? To what extent were some forms considered more appropriate in capturing a particular ideal than others?
  • To what extent was the act of putting a personality ideal into circulation constitutive of normative or other subjectivities?


  • Theoretically, how should we conceptualize the subject who performs the act of reception?
  • How were the various ideals received, reformulated, or challenged? To what extent were normative ideals accepted with ambivalence?
  • In speaking of reception, to what degree do we refer to the intentions, beliefs, or inner worlds of our subjects as opposed to the forms of representation to which we have access?
  • How should we read their words or representations? To what extent should we read the words themselves and to what extent should we read between the lines?
  • To what degree was there space from Party control or involvement?
  • By what institutional or social practices were subjectivities constructed? By way of family, friends, school, work, or some combination? By way of consumption and engagement with the material world?
  • How was the creation of the self tied to the creation of a community?
  • How did the writing of the community’s or another person’s life lead to the creation of one’s own subjecthood?
  • To what degree did old subjectivities exist within the same person alongside new subjectivities? How did a single individual’s subjectivity change depending on the context in which he/she found himself/herself or on the genre in which he/she represented himself/herself?
  • How did geography, age, gender, class, and nation affect reception?
  • How did the urbanization or socio-economic modernization of the late Soviet period affect the nature of reception?

Guidelines for submission

The working language of the conference will be Russian. The EUSP will provide necessary funding for travel and accommodation expenses. The proceedings will be based on pre-circulated papers of 8,000-9,000 words. Papers may be written in English or Russian and should be submitted by April 1.
Select papers, to be revised after the conference, will be included in a Russian-language peer-reviewed volume to be published by the press of the European University at Saint Petersburg. Funding will be available for translation of English-language articles into Russian.
Please submit a 300-word abstract and one-page CV by November 15 to Invited participants will be contacted by December 1.


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European University at Saint Petersburg

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