Part I: 1922 in Soviet Ukrainian Book Studies
Part II: Soviet Russian Book Studies from the 1920s
Guest editor: Anne O. Fisher (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, United States)
This issue of Lingua Franca has been an unexpectedly long time in the making. Back in 2019, guest editor Anne O. Fisher reached out to the editors of Lingua Franca about putting together an issue that would make some valuable 1920s-era Soviet Russian writing about book history and reader response available in English for the first time. Looking back at her own graduate training in the early 2000s, Anne recalled the relative paucity in non-Slavicist circles of scholarship exploring the shared intellectual genealogies of what in the West was called reader response or reception theory, but what in Soviet scholarship was studied under rubrics from semiotics, to the study of the reader, to the sociology of the reader. Grateful for the intervening surge of English-language scholarship on Russian reading, especially the collections edited by Damiano Rebecchini and Raffaella Vassena, Anne suggested that a special issue showcasing previously untranslated early-Soviet-era scholarship would be a useful contribution to the field. The editors of Lingua Franca agreed to make this the topic of the issue for 2022, the centenary of the founding of the Soviet Union in December 1922. The translators did their excellent work and on February 23, 2022, Anne emailed the Lingua Franca editors letting them know that all the translations were in hand. We were ready to begin editing.
On February 24, 2022, we woke up to the horrific news of Russian forces invading Ukraine.
After some months in shock, Anne asked to continue with publication of the Soviet Russian articles already translated, not least because the translators’ superb renderings, the research they put into their contextualizing comments, and their careful work preserving the layers of editing of these Soviet-era texts all represent a significant scholarly contribution to the field. But she also saw that it is morally incumbent on her as a Russianist to work toward her own — and to the extent of which she is capable, her field’s — decolonization. One way to approach this work during Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine is to foreground Ukrainian voices and perspectives, doing so in a separate space rather than grouping them with Russian ones under the default, unexamined umbrella of “Soviet.” To that end Anne requested that Lingua Franca make this a two-part issue, with Part One showcasing Ukrainian scholarship and Part Two featuring Russian scholarship. The issue therefore emphasizes featured author Aleksandr Beletsky’s Soviet Ukrainian identity by including his work in Part One along with a 2022 article by Halyna Koval’chuk, Director of the Institute of Book Studies at the Volodymyr Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine in Kyiv.
Seeking to make the articles more accessible to those without a background in Slavic studies, Anne compiled a list of names, which provides brief biographical information on several intellectuals, authors and artists mentioned throughout the issue. We thank her for all the hard work she has put into this collaboration with Lingua Franca, which is even more appreciated during these unfortunate times.