Dr. Nina Frieß

Literature and Power in the Post-Soviet Space

Dr. Nina Frieß

Literature and Power in the Post-Soviet Space

Kerstin Siepmann

Project description

In her project, Nina Frieß – a scholar of Slavic literatures and cultures – is investigating the role of Russophone literatures in the post-Soviet space. Russophone literatures are defined as literary texts in the Russian language whose authors identify as non-Russian. While such texts are created all over the world, this project focuses on literatures produced in the states on the territory of the former Soviet Union that have gained independence since 1991.

Taking selected case study countries as its starting point, the project aims to map the Russophone literary landscape. Nina Frieß is interested not only in stakeholders and institutions but, above all, in the discourses that are captured in literary texts. Her underlying premise is that relevant discourses in society continue to be reflected in its literature. It is borne in mind that literature has lost its status as a key form of societal communication – a role which, it is hypothesised, would allow it, particularly in non-democratic regimes, certain freedoms that are absent in other media. An analysis of these relatively free literary discourses thus enables conclusions to be drawn about social developments that would otherwise remain hidden.

A glance at existing research on post-Soviet literatures reveals that it is mainly concerned with developments in Russia. This Russia-centrism relates both to theoretical discourses and the literature itself. Russophone literature which emerged outside Russia after the demise of the Soviet Union is rarely investigated. The project thus focuses on an under-investigated field of research and attempts, in cooperation with other partners, to close this gap.


  • Qualitative textual analysis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Interviews with experts

Key questions

  • What role do the Russian language and Russophone literature play in the post-Soviet space?
  • Which social discourses are reflected in the Russophone literatures emerging outside Russia?
  • What is the relationship of Russophone literatures and authors to Russia?

Project coordination