Mikhail Epstein


The Paradoxes of Postmodernism and Contemporary Russian Culture

transl. and with Introduction by Anesa Miller-Pogacar, Amherst: Massachusetts University Press, 1995, 394 pp.


This book brings together for the first time in English the major writings of Mikhail Epstein, one of post-Soviet Russia's most prominent theoreticians of cultural studies and postmodernism. Written from a non-Western point of view yet informed by a familiarity with Western literary theory, it offers a fresh, lucid perspective on the postcommunist literary scene as well as a practical and theoretical introduction to the new discipline of Russian "culturology." After the Future is also the first book to incorporate the development of contemporary Russian culture within the framework of postmodernism, a concept whose application has been previously limited to the West.

The four sections of the book - Literature, Ideology, Culture, and Methodology - reflect the interdisciplinary range of postmodernism in contemporary Russia. Epstein explores such influential new tendencies in Russian literature as conceptualism, "meta-realism,""arrière-garde" and discusses the formation of a post-Marxist ideological milieu characterized by a paradoxical mixture of relativistic and totalitarian patterns.

"Epstein is probably the most important figure in Russian literary theory in the post-Bakhtin, post-Lotman era. What he has to say is of great interest to everyone interested in cultural studies." - Walter Laqueur, Chairman, Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Epstein has been a major theoretician of Russian postmodernism since theearly 1980s. His essays on contemporary culture are an essential part of current debates on totalitarian discourse and its role in shaping Russian art of the late twentieth century. Epstein's contribution is uniqie insofar as he is both a major scholar and a vital participant in the cultural processes that constitute the fucus of his work." - Nancy Condee, University of Pittsburgh

"Among the many varieties of critical theorists extant in contemporary world, Mikhail Epstein figures as a Russian rara avis who has yet to be sighted (let alone cited) in Western mappings of cultural discourse. Despite his emigration to the United States in 1990, the English-speaking community of literary scholars is largely still unaware of Epstein's formative role in the intellectual upheaval that has shaped the 'post-Soviet' mentality. This ignorance is soon to be corrected, however, with the publication of After the Future. - Dale Peterson, Amherst College

Mikhail N. Epstein is founder and former director of the Laboratory of Modern Culture, Exprerimental Center of Creativity, in Moscow. He is associate professor of Russian Studies at Emory University. Anesa Miller-Pogacar is a writer, translator, and independent scholar.

A volume in the series Critical Perspectives on Modern Culture

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After the Future

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