Pobuda, Anika

Project title: Social and Political Instability and the Rise of Russian Absurdism in the Early 20th Century

Department: Germanic and Slavic Studies

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Megan Swift

"This project will focus on the absurdist aspects of the Russian Futurist movement which flourished after the Russian Revolution. Specifically, I will focus on the way in which the movement progressed from impressionism to absurdism, becoming more extreme and abstract as the social and political landscape became more violent and uncertain, finally culminating in the eradication of the futurist movement and its authors by Stalin in the 1930s. While futurism and other avant-garde movements gained a foothold during the brief period of relaxed censorship in the early 1920s, the imposition of increasingly strict censorship laws by the Bolsheviks and the inability to speak openly against Stalin’s regime lead to increasing abstraction of the movement, allowing authors to hide societal critiques under a veil of nonsense. Other European nations also experienced an emergence of absurdism in movements such as surrealism and in authors such as Kafka, but absurdism didn’t reach a crescendo in Europe until post-World War Two, when the Russian absurdist movement had already been stifled. Today, aspects of absurdism are re-emerging in popular culture. Based on the rise and decline of Russian absurdism alongside an unstable landscape marked by social unrest, political turmoil, and war, it is possible to conclude that the modern socio-political landscape is starting to provide the fear and uncertainty required to fuel a new absurdist movement."