Varlam Shalamov

“Varlam Shalamov’s Life and Works in the Context of World Literature and Soviet History” Conference

16 june 2011 - 19 june 2011

June 16th-19th, 2011

Dear colleagues,

The organizing committee is glad to invite you to take part in the international scientific conference entitled “Varlam Shalamov’s Life and Works in the Context of World Literature and Soviet History”, which is going to take place in Moscow and Vologda on the 16-19 of June 2011.

The conference is organized by Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences (MSSES), web-site and Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI), with the participation of the Memorial Society.

The main goal of the conference is to unite the efforts of the major researchers in various fields of humanitarian knowledge to discuss the most acute and significant issues, defined in the course of researching Varlam Shalamov’s works and biography.

Summary: Nowadays the peculiarities of Soviet history, its cultural experience and historical memory of the repressions period attract the attention of researchers in all fields of humanitarian knowledge. Varlam Shalamov’s personality and works invariably become the focus of these discussions. His works offer a challenge, requiring understanding of the historical and literary background and, what is more, requiring a deeply interested reader, realizing the historical trauma inflicted on this country by Stalinism. It is virtually impossible to understand the essence of this trauma and to prevent setbacks without understanding Shalamov. The organizers of the conference consider Shalamov the brightest and the deepest among the authors of the so called “GULAG prose”. He managed to exceed the boundaries of the subject approaching the philosophical questions of human ethics and the matter of an individual’s impact on history. This is what undoubtedly makes Shalamov the 21st century author. However, the situation around Shalamov’s legacy is quite complicated for, unlike the number of readers, which is constantly growing, the amount of research concerning his works, their historical context and poetics, as well as his biography, drastically lags behind. Shalamov’s works have been widely published for twenty years now, but relatively few academicians have tried to tackle the heritage properly. Shalamov’s impact is still underestimated.

The primary goals of the conference are:

  • — review, analysis and compilation of material (both theoretical and factual), accumulated in the course of researching “Shalamov subject” on the interdisciplinary basis,
  • — mapping out development directions for further research, discussing the prospects of cooperation for researchers in Russia and abroad exploring Shalamov issues,
  • — encouraging the efforts of the young researchers within the scientific space, that is building up in the course of research concerning Shalamov’s works.

During the conference there are going to be held round tables and workshops on the following subjects:

  • — Historical trauma of the 20th century: Stalinism, Nazism and “post-Auschwitz literature”,
  • — peculiarities of Shalamov’s poetics in the context of Russian (Soviet) 20th century literature development,
  • — the role and the place of Shalamov’s works in depicting “GULAG subject”,
  • — “blank spots” in Shalamov’s biography,
  • — round table of Shalamov’s translators into various languages.

Intended participants of the conference include researchers of Shalamov’s works, experts in philosophic anthropology, philosophy of culture and other philosophical domains, philologists and linguistic scientists, translators, sociologists, experts in contemporary history and history of the Soviet culture as well as the problems of historical memory.

The working languages of the conference are Russian, English and German.

The blueprint of the conference schedule will be posted in March 2011 on and web-sites.

For further information concerning the conference, please, contact and + 7 929 571 9257.

The Organizing Committee.