NeMLA 2023 CFP: Mythology of Historical Trauma and National Healing in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russian Cinema

Deadline: September 30, 2022

Please consider taking part in the panel on historical trauma and national healing at the NeMLA conference in Niagara Falls, NY, March 23-26, 2023.

Panel Title: “Mythology of Historical Trauma and National Healing in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russian Cinema.”

Description: This panel reflects on the cinematic representations of historical traumas in Soviet and post-Soviet cinema and their impact on the Russian collective memory and national identity.

From the final years of the Soviet Union and up to the present, Russia has been struggling how to address the problem of its “usable past” (Van Wyck Brooks) by reconciling the need for national atonement for its bloody history with the national pride for the astounding resilience of its people. Cinematic attempts to process historical traumas and possibilities for national healing (such as Abuladze’s “Repentance,” Lungin’s “Battle for Afghanistan”, Konchalovsky’s “House of Fools,” German’s “Khrustalyov, my car!” among others) expose the unresolved national identity crisis. Mythology of historical traumas on the screen is typically represented in two ways: it either solidifies the state narrative and serves its political agenda or it is reassessed in films, frequently festival films, that are often rejected by Russian mass audience as West-oriented because of the perceived national self-flagellation and belittlement.

The panel will discuss some of the questions about the collective representation of history in Soviet and post-Soviet Russian cinema:

· What role does the politics of memory on screen play in shaping Russian national identity?

· How has the cinematic mythology of historical trauma changed over time?

· Have the state censorship and self-censorship led to silencing historical traumas on the one hand, and blurring the line between collective shame and individual responsibility on the other hand (as seen through Hannah Arendt’s framework of “organized guilt and universal responsibility”)?

· How does narrating or silencing traumatic stories of origin affect the processes of repentance, reconciliation, and national healing?

· What cinematic texts became cultural markers for preserving the national identity and serving as communal shrines of remembrance for the people(s) in the Soviet and post-Soviet years?

To participate, please submit a 300-word abstract by September 30, 2022:  Submit your abstract here

For more information about the NeMLA conference, please see:

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