Prospectus: Comintern Aesthetics

Amelia Glaser
Russian and Comparative Literature
UC San Diego

Steven Lee
UC Berkeley

It has long been common practice to see Western metropolises like Paris and New York as centers of global modernism and a “world republic of letters.” The edited volume proposed by the grantees, “Comintern Aesthetics,” sought to provide an alternate mapping of world culture, one that decenters the West through an emphasis on the now-defunct realms of “really existing socialism” (a.k.a. “the Communist Bloc”), as well as on what might be called “diaspora socialisms.” The goal of the group’s residency was to complete this volume. The project aimed to re-assemble cultural and revolutionary circuits that once connected Moscow with, for instance, Beijing, Havana, and indeed, Paris and New York. The book illustrated a shared encounter between leftist vanguards and avant-gardes—that is, artists and writers committed both to modernist experimentation and international revolution.