Call for Papers: Chernyshevsky, His Time and His Legacy

"Is This Not the Beginning of a Change?": Chernyshevsky, His Time and His Legacy
Despite the political and literary significance of Nikolay Chernyshevksy’s 1863 novel, What Is to Be Done? it remains relatively unknown and understudied in the U.S. Chernyshevsky himself was an influential critic and editor, at the center of a thriving and influential radical literary culture in the 1860s, who, like the authors who surrounded, has been neglected in U.S. scholarship. The novel lauded by Plekhanov, Kropotkin, Lenin, and Mayakovsky was not only received as the “gospel” of the “new people” to whom it was dedicated, but was also taken up by theorists and revolutionaries in the New York-based émigré anarchist organizations in the 1890s and in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. Revolutionaries around the world looked to Chernyshevsky’s novel as a repository of topoi, rhetorical tools, and practical advice to interpret their own experiences and construct their identities and communities.
This workshop will bring together young scholars working on Chernyshevsky’s literary, critical and philosophical work, the work of his contemporaries, collaborators and followers, and the afterlives of his novel. Participants will precirculate papers and each participant will both present and respond to a paper during the two-day workshop. Papers should be chapter or article length and emerge from each participant’s research as related to the workshop topic. We welcome participants who are considering the following questions, among others: How did Chernyshevsky and Dobroliubov shape the literary culture of the 1860s as editors of The Contemporary? What influence did What Is to Be Done? have on the construction of the ‘myth’ of the Russian revolutionary, and its Soviet ramifications? Where, among which circles, and through which channels has What Is to Be Done? travelled? Which functions did the novel and its translations assume in other temporal and geographical contexts? What is the history of Chernyshevsky’s reception abroad, and in particular in the United States?
The workshop will take place on April 12th and 13th, 2019 at Princeton University. Please email a brief abstract (300 words) for a 20-30 page paper to by October 31st. For more information, please contact Helen Stuhr-Rommereim (, Chiara Benetollo ( or Mari Jarris (