21 March 2014

27. 3. 2014, 11:30-13:00. Presentation “LitSOM. Mapping Contemporary Russian Literature” (in German). Session V24, DHD14, Uni Passau, SR 029.

16 November 2013

23. 11. 2013: Roundtable “We Need to Talk (More) About Digital Humanities” with Alexander Etkind, Ellen Rutten, Ilia Kukulin, Ekaterina Lapina-Kratasiuk, Mykola Makhortykh, Gernot Howanitz. ASEEES Convention, Boston.

08 November 2013

The relationship between Poland and Russia has been full of conflicts for centuries. Starting with the three Polish partitions, these problematic relations include also the Polish-Soviet war and the domination of the Soviet Union in the People’s Republic of Poland (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa, PRL). All these conflicts were reflected medially, for example in Jan Kochanowski’s Trip to Moscow (Jedza do Moskwy, 1583), or, more recently, in Andrzej Wajda’s Katyń (2007).

In one of the most successful Polish computer games of all times, Gorky 17, this old antagonism of Poland vs Russia is renewed. Gorky 17 is a fictitious Soviet research facility located in the PRL, which tries to create a Soviet Übermensch. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Russian general Kozov continues these experiments to a tragic outcome: Loads of zombies begin to terrorize Poland. A NATO task force controlled by the player has to regain control over the mutant-infested premises of Gorky 17.

As regards the translation of ‘the Russian’, several consequences can be formulated. First of all, the alien Soviet force invading the PRL is represented in form of General Kozov. Secondly, the post-Socialist antagonism NATO vs Russia is reflected. Thirdly, the Soviet mutants as evil specters from the past can be read as examples for strategies to deal with the Soviet trauma (cf. Alexander Etkind’s notion of “magical historicism”). Finally, also a Russian translation of the game exists, where good Russians fight bad Russians – all traces of Poland have been removed. Thus, I want also to focus on this diametrically opposed direction of the translation process.

Slides are available here:


01 November 2013

This paper investigates Russian author Linor Goralik’s specific use of Twitter, a popular microblogging portal. In contrast to a fully-fledged blog, Twitter messages (tweets) are limited to 140 characters. Because of this restriction, Twitter communication is fast-paced and can be used to quickly distribute new information. Linor Goralik’s Twitter page (, however, is different: It is explicitly labeled as a ‘literary project’. Each tweet starts with the words ‘I see:’. Then, a small observation from daily life follows, for example: ‘I see: a scrawny old cat looking with hostility on a sinewy old pigeon’. Thus, Goralik creates the illusion that she simply uses Twitter to record memorable moments. These real life miniatures, however, share a certain poetic quality, and are, after all, literary texts, so their authenticity is questionable. Nonetheless, Goralik’s literary project can be regarded an interesting example of Life Writing – or rather Life Tweeting. Although the subject is present in each tweet by means of one word only, it covers multiple facets ranging from the lyrical subject to Linor Goralik’s author persona. Moreover, the Twitter page serves as a part of her multi-layered online projects: a web comic, several blogs, a website, etc. The author subject is spread across multiple sites, which represent different aspects of Goralik’s personality. But not only the subject is fragmentary. In her tweets, Goralik shatters Life itself to small pieces.

But RL (‘real life’) breaks into the literary cosmos. On 10 December 2011, massive anti-Putin protests take place in Moscow. Because of these developments, Goralik uses her Twitter account as a news relay. Suddenly, authenticity is crucial, and the otherwise rather undefined subject of ‘I see’ becomes political activist Linor Goralik. This constant change, shifting and deferral of both the subject and life in Goralik’s tweets challenges contemporary Life Writing theory.

Slides are available here:


23 October 2013

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

07 October 2013

Master thesis in Applied Computer Science at U of Salzburg


The LitSOM proposed in this Master thesis applies Self-Organizing Maps (SOM) and Learning Vector Quantization (LVQ) to Russian literature. The SOM is used to create a map of contemporary Russian novels, which enables literary scholars to study intertextual relationships. Thus, LitSOM can be regarded as an example for the emerging scientific discipline of digital humanities. The quality of the resulting maps of Russian literature is assessed subjectively, i.e., from a philologist’s point of view, and objectively, i.e., in a “classic” problem of text mining, namely, author classification. For that purpose the SOM can be easily converted to implement LVQ.

Download LitSOM presentation.

27 August 2013

9. 11. 2013, 13:30: Talk „Tam, gdzie stanie mutant sowiecki…“: Old and New Enemies in the Polish Computer Game „Gorky 17“ at the Workshop Translating the Russian: Roles and Functions of the “Russian” after the Break-down of the Soviet Union, Institute for East European History of the University of Vienna

27 August 2013

1. 11. 2013, 11:00: Talk “‘I See: An Astonished Porcelain Hippo’. Linor Goralik’s Literary Life Tweeting” at the IABA Europe 2013 Conference, University of Vienna, Hörsaalzentrum, Spitalgasse 2, 1090 Vienna.

27 August 2013

25. 10. 2013, 9:15: Talk “Neue Techniken und Medien in der slawistischen Literaturwissenschaft” at the workshop 15 Jahre SSG Slawistik an der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Berlin State Library, Potsdamer
Str. 33, 10785 Berlin – Conference Room 2

04 June 2013

This paper’s main goal is to show that Soviet notions of privacy – which were developed in crowded Soviet communal appartments, also known as the kommunalki – can still be found in contemporary Russian (micro-)blogs. This finding does not come as a surprise. Russian Internet (Runet) culture is, to a certain extent, quite different from its ‘Western’ counterparts, which may be explained in part by historical developments. The Soviet regime looked upon communication technologies as being potentially dangerous and thus, neglected and even hindered their development (Schmidt 2011: 55). The Internet got available to a larger public audience only after the collapse of the Soviet union in 1989. Because of this delay, Runet culture until today is quite unique. For example, Russian blog portals (, social networks (, and search engines ( are widely unknown in the ‘West’, but dominate the Russian market..  Of course not all of Runet’s peculiarities can be attributed to technical history only. I want to argue that the past Soviet experiences of Russian bloggers have influence, too: They shape the perception of privacy and publicity. This impact of the Soviet past can be felt in many examples of Russian online life writing. By means of examining the blogs of best-selling fantasy author Sergei Luk’ianenko (, and the Twitter profile of Runet poet Linor Goralik (, I strive to show that both writers and readers of on-line Russian life writing texts still are spellbound by Soviet privacy conceptions. This factor thus should not be neglected in studies of Russian life writing.





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