Skip to main content

James H. Billington Lecture | Tamizdat Project and Contraband Russian Literature: The Case of Varlam Shalamov

Date & Time

Sep. 21, 2021
4:00pm – 5:30pm ET




Join us on September 21, 2021 for a lecture with 2020-2021 Billington Fellow Yasha Klots. He will discuss the ways in which Russian literature written in the USSR but denied publication at home was smuggled out and first published abroad during the Cold War. Taking Varlam Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales as a case study, the discussion will trace the itinerary of Shalamov’s manuscript from Moscow to New York in 1966, dwell on the patterns of its reception abroad, and situate Shalamov’s “new prose” in the historical and literary contexts of Gulag narratives as a genre. The talk will resort to the wide range of relevant sources available via Tamizdat Project – a public-scholarship initiative that reconstructs the history of circulation, first publications, and reception of contraband Russian literature outside the USSR.     

The James H. Billington Fellowship was established in 2016 in tribute to the co-founder of the Kennan Institute, former Director of the Wilson Center, and former Librarian of Congress. Dr. Billington made enduring contributions to the field of Russian Studies, and in our nation’s ability to understand and maintain bridges of dialogue with the Russian people.

Hosted By

Kennan Institute

The Kennan Institute is the premier U.S. center for advanced research on Russia and Eurasia and the oldest and largest regional program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Kennan Institute is committed to improving American understanding of Russia, Ukraine, and the region through research and exchange.  Read more