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September 05, 2013

Volunteer: Reading Habits of Samizdat Activists

Reading Habits and Dissent during the Period of Stagnation in the Soviet Union, 1960s-1980s, a joint research project of Oxford University and the “Memorial” Society in Moscow, is inviting volunteer contributors.

We are researching the impact of reading habits on late Soviet dissent. Apart from being prolific writers, dissenting intellectuals were experts in proliferating texts they considered important. The majority of samizdat (i.e. self-published) texts were reproductions, often translations, of texts that were unavailable to the general readership. We aim to establish which literary, philosophical and theological texts were popular among dissenters/samizdat authors.

While many of the samizdat authors’ own texts have been collated, republished, and researched, reconstructing what these people read is infinitely more difficult. There are no convenient catalogues telling us which texts they studied or where the texts came from. Instead, we have to piece together this information from multiple disparate sources: surviving samizdat journals, archives, memoirs and academic studies.

This is where you can help. We are looking for motivated individuals (good reading knowledge of Russian essential) who like to read memoirs or work with oral history sources, and/or are interested in bibliographical/archival research, and/or would like to develop their own approach for participating in what we hope to turn into a larger, multi-agency project.

For more information please visit




or contact one of the researchers:

Josie von Zitzewitz (Oxford): Josephine.vonzitzewitz@new.ox.ac.uk
Gennady Kuzovkin (Moscow): memo.projects@gmail.com

Posted by jmkirsch at September 5, 2013 04:20 PM