Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

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00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Maija Könönen (University of Eastern Finland)

Train Spotting in Russian Space

My paper explores the interrelationship between space and identity in contemporary Russian literature. The focus lies on the metaphorical meanings of travelling as a way of constructing post-Soviet Russianness as it appears in Natal'ja Ključarëva's novel 'Россия, общий вагон'. The metaphorical meanings embedded in a journey of Nikita, Ključarëva's hero on the move, in the geographical space of today's Russia are juxtaposed with the legendary train travel in Venedikt Erofeev's novel 'Москва — Петушки'. This exploration starts from a brief look at the significance of space in the constitution of the Russian national identity and world picture. Then it moves to the introduction of the two main theoretical frameworks, Jurij Lotman's semiotic theory of literary space and geocriticism, which will be applied in the analysis of the literary texts. Apart from tracking the metaphoric articulations of space and travel in Ključarëva's and Erofeev's novels, they will also be placed into the Russian tradition of literary train trips. The main question addressed here is how the implied worldviews concerning Russianness and the path of Russia are constructed and communicated as spatial categories and metaphors in the mentioned narratives in which spatial reference with metaphoric significance obviously plays a crucial role.