CFP: Dostoevsky Beyond Bakhtin Panel Stream at AATSEEL 2020

This is a call for proposals to participate in the “Dostoevsky Beyond Bakhtin” stream at AATSEEL 2020 in San Diego. 

Since the 1980s, the theories of Mikhail Bakhtin have dominated approaches to Dostoevsky’s art and found productive applications in a vast variety of disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences.  Without questioning either the legacy of this impact or the originality of the theories themselves, it is arguable that the firm hold of Bakhtinian paradigms over Dostoevsky studies at this point in time leads mostly to rote readings that reach predictable conclusions.  This panel stream proposes that both Dostoevsky studies and the Slavic field more broadly stand to benefit from a more critical assessment of Bakhtin and a more robust, imaginative, and forward-looking debate about alternatives and future directions.

The stream seeks to initiate a vibrant scholarly conversation that would be structured around two specific questions.  First, for all the acuity of his theoretical modeling, how may Bakhtin have been wrong about Dostoevsky?  To what extent may Bakhtin’s influential readings of specific works by Dostoevsky be actually seen as misreadings?  Just how “unfinalized” are Dostoevsky’s novelistic discourses and how open-ended is his “polyglossia”?  To what extent may an implied reader that Bakhtin posits, and whose reading experience he claims to be reflecting, be too idiosyncratic to serve as a viable model of the reader of Dostoevsky’s fictions?

Second, what new vision of Dostoevsky’s art might emerge if we move beyond Bakhtin and no longer treat his exegeses as inviolable essential “truths” about the writer or an inescapable point of reference? What aspects of Dostoevsky’s fictional universe – neglected narrative, ethical, psychological, and ideological dimensions – might then come into view?  What new theoretical perspectives might productively assist us in this task?  How might Dostoevsky’s work be made relevant to current debates within the humanities?


For more information about this stream, please contact Edyta Bojanowska. Details about panel streams at AATSEEL 2020 can be found here. Proposals for “Dostoevsky Beyond Bakhtin” are due by May 1 (early deadline) via the AATSEEL membership portal – indicate that your proposal is for this stream in your abstract. For more information, please visit the AATSEEL website.

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