World Fiction, Post/Socialist. Eastern European Literatures and Cultures

The socialist project of creating a new world, fundamentally different from all previous ones and the capitalist in particular, was not restricted to the political and economic sphere. What is more, it aimed at revolutionizing people’s relationships to each other and to their surroundings. The many different ways in which literature and popular art forms create fictional worlds are particularly well equipped to observe what became of those goals and how their failure lives on in the cultures of Eastern Europe to this day.

Various projects investigate the complexities and ambivalences of these world fictions from a growing historical distance, overcoming the Cold War dichotomies of state repression and dissidence, totalitarianism and democracy, official and unofficial art. Exploring how the past is continuously reinterpreted and reappropriated in the post-socialist present—ranging from Manichean demonization to nostalgic glorification— their aim is to expand and revise common readings of aesthetic practices, artistic methods, popular genres, and cultural conceptions of the world in historical and comparative perspectives.

In collaboration with various colleagues, one project examines, for example, how documentary aesthetics in the 1960s radically altered the ways in which artists accessed reality, another how, in the production of socialist masculinities, bourgeois gender relations were disrupted. Using travel literature as yet another example, one can trace the emergence of new notions of the global in the postwar period. Drawing on post-socialist representations of history, one can explore how globalized cultures of memory and social media radically disrupt conceptions of the past. Post/socialist world fiction thus negotiates two things: the political fiction of a better world, increasingly becoming a fantasy estranged from reality, and the artistic production of divergent world concepts that articulate both fascination with everyday life and the horrors of it.  


Fig. above: © Matthias Schwartz

since 2021
Head researcher(s): Matthias Schwartz


See also

Affective Realism. Contemporary Eastern European Literatures (Matthias Schwartz, project 2017–2019)


International Conference
16 Jun 2022 – 18 Jun 2022

 Socialism’s Divergent Masculinities. Representations of Male Subjectivities in Soviet Constellations and Beyond

ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, Aufgang B, 3. Etage, Trajekte-Tagungsraum

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International Conference
11 Nov 2021 – 12 Nov 2021

Beyond Nostalgia. New Appropriations of Late Socialism in Contemporary Eastern European Cultures

Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, Aufgang B, 3. Etage

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International Conference
16 Jan 2020 – 18 Jan 2020

‘Firsthand Time.’ Documentary Aesthetics in the Long 1960s

ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, Aufgang B, 3. Etage, Seminarraum

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