Valerii Mishin, Poėt i gladiator [detail]


The project aims to collect contributions from historians, philologists, literary critics and other academics working with students and researchers to develop a space which stimulates debate and comparison on themes relating to dissent in the Soviet Union. The project is pioneering in that it aims to connect distinct but connected lines of study on independent voices from the USSR. The reception of Soviet dissent in the West has often been framed by rhetoric reflective of anti-Soviet propaganda surrounding the Cold War. Reflections on freedom of expression, political responsibility and the struggle for historical truth are prone to present opposition to Soviet ideology from a Western perspective. This project aims to comprehend the origins and cultural impact of such a position and to unpick the mediatic and political instruments in operation both in the Soviet Union and in the West.

The objective is not merely to contrast and compare writers, artists and thinkers in the USSR with their counterparts in the West, but to examine the processes of dialogue, assimilation and re-elaboration that occurred during the second half of the twentieth century and allowed dissenting voices within the Soviet Union to contribute to Europe’s and the wider world’s cultural and intellectual development.

The project aspires to reach researchers and academics from all over the world, in the hope that the sharing of resources online will act as an impetus for further research, the organisation of seminars, roundtables, study days and joint publications involving the Universities of Florence and Pisa.