CFP: A Hundred Years of Ostranenie (Erfurt, 15-17/12/2016; deadline: Feb 1)

Call for Papers


A Hundred Years of
an International Conference


University of Erfurt, December 15-17 2016


Organizers: Alexandra Berlina and Holt Meyer, University of Erfurt


A century ago, in 1916, a young student named Viktor Shklovsky self-published his precocious essay-cum-manifesto “Art as Device”. In it,
he coined a term which became crucial in literary studies, and important in the study of cinema and visual art:
ostranenie. Also known as “defamiliarization”, “estrangement”, “enstrangement”, “making
strange” and “foregrounding” in English, and – causing confusion with Brecht’s concept – as “Verfremdung” in German,
is about rendering the usual extraordinary and thus making the reader (or viewer) perceive it anew. Or is it? The way Shklovsky uses the term in “Art as Device” is ambiguous
enough; if we also consider his later and lesser-known works as well as the scholarly legacy of
ostranenie, we arrive at an array of meanings worthy of a fundamental investigation, thus
our suggestion to make this subject the topic of a



A hundred years of
has not been a hundred years of solitude for the concept. It has been commented on and developed in countless ways, in monographs and in whole special issues of scholarly periodicals.
Tracing these paths is tracing the history of modern literary theory itself. The OPOYAZ – the Society for the Study of Poetic Language, which formed in Petrograd around Shklovsky – also celebrates its centennial in 2016. The work of its members influenced
structuralism, but tracing a straight line from Russian formalism to structuralism is a misleading simplification.


Reader-response criticism and cognitive poetics arguably owe as much to formalism as does structuralism. As regards literary heritage,
some writers – such as Yuri Olesha and Bertolt Brecht – were directly influenced by the concept of
ostranenie, and many others exhibit a wealth of
ostranenie in their work which remains to be discussed. The conference is international
and interdisciplinary; scholars beyond Slavic and literary departments are expressly invited.
features in diverse literatures, and in other cultural products than literary fiction – comic strips, films, paintings… The heritage of
in art and scholarship, as well as its fate in Shklovsky’s later works (especially his ‘recanting’), is the conference’s key focus.


The subfields may include, but are not restricted to: translating the terminology of
ostranenie; ostranenie
in world literature; forms and functions of
ostranenie; ostranenie, cognition and emotion;
Russianness and the East;
ostranenie, rhetoric and irony;
diversion andentertainment; ostranenie
and deconstruction;
and Romanticism;
war, andterror; literary sources of
discussed by Shklovsky (Sterne, Tolstoy etc.); the media ofostranenie
(visual arts, film, music and mediality in general).


Keynote speaker will be the noted scholar of Russian Formalism Aage A. Hansen-Löve.


Abstracts of 150-300 words, accompanied by a brief bio (incl. affiliation), are welcome at until February 1st 2016.

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ENN is the European Narratology Network, an association of individual narratologists and narratological institutions. ENN aims to foster the study of narrative representation in literature, film, digital media, etc. across all European languages and cultures.