CFP: Princeton University Graduate Student Conference

Deadline: June 23, 2023

Call for Papers
Princeton University Graduate Student Conference, October 6-7, 2023
 *To Be Held In-Person*

The Art of Self-Obsession? Interrogating Slavic Ego-Documents and Auto-Fiction

Interrogating his own diaristic output, the young Leo Tolstoy wrote that the “motto” of  his diary “should be ‘not for proof, but for a narrative.’” As this suggests, autobiographical texts – letters, diaries,memoirs, etc. – can possess a poetics all of their own. Now, in the Internet age, such forms proliferate more than ever, radically expanding the remit of what can constitute an ego-document. Spanning
numerous figures and media, from Avvakum, to TikTok, Slavic cultures are saturated with content about the self. Moreover, ego-documents and their poetics form the foundation of seminal scholarly works from the likes of Boris Eikhenbaum and Yuri Tynianov. The “ego-text” in the broadest sense is – perhaps most importantly – a vehicle for self-articulation for those at both the center and margins of culture and society.

We invite submissions that interrogate the boundaries of what constitutes the autobiographical mode, and its poetics, in the Slavic context. How have specific political conditions across Eastern Europe shaped the production of ego-documents, and are there distinctive national and historical forms that emerge from these contexts? What can frameworks that have long been associated with autobiographical writings, such as trauma studies and ideas of postcoloniality, do for readings of Eastern European texts? To what extent can we speak of an ego-document’s formal devices or structure? When, how, and why do autobiographical readings fail? What critical possibilities do such approaches foreclose? We hope to develop and discuss these questions at our conference. 

Possible topics include but are far from limited to the following:

— The “ego-text” across genre, including (but not limited to) film, audio recordings, social media, etc. What apparatus is required to approach and read these texts on their own terms?
— Hybrid cases: artworks that can be read as ego-documents, or ego-documents that can be read as works of art – what are the advantages and the dangers of reading through this lens?
— The utility of frameworks old and new for reading these texts, such as psychoanalysis, subjectivity studies, and trauma studies
— Integrating paradigms of identity: what can gender and sexuality studies, critical race theory, and postcolonial theory do to expand our understanding of relevant ego-documents?
— The formal and structural poetics of specific autobiographical works or collections thereof; how and why these documents cultivate and express an artistic personality


This conference will be in person. It intends to provide graduate students with the opportunity to present their work to senior scholars in the field and to receive as much constructive feedback as possible. Each presenter will be given approximately 15 minutes to present a pre-circulated paper, followed by commentary from the panel discussant and then open discussion.

The conference is hosted by the Princeton Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. The working language of the conference is English, but we will accept contributions in Russian as well.

Submission Details

We welcome submissions from graduate students and postdoctoral scholars across disciplines working on any and all Slavic and Eastern European art forms and cultures.
Please submit abstracts (300 words or less) and a short bio (no more than a few sentences) to

The deadline for submissions is June 23rd, 2023. Please submit all files as Word documents.

We will be able to provide travel subsidies for the conference participants, as well as lodging. 

Please address any questions to