The Poetics of the Avant-garde in Literature, Arts, and Philosophy presents a range of chapters written by a highly international group of scholars from disciplines such as literary studies, arts, theatre, and philosophy to analyze the ambitions of avant-garde artists. Together, these essays highlight the interdisciplinary scope of the historic avant-garde and the interconnectedness of its artists. Contributors analyze topics such as abstraction and estrangement across the arts, the imaginary dialogue between Lev Yakubinsky and Mikhail Bakhtin, the problem of the “masculine ethos” in the Russian avant-garde, the transformation of barefoot dancing, Kazimir Malevich’s avant-garde poetic experimentations, the ecological imagination of the Polish avant-garde, science-fiction in the Russian avant-garde cinema, and the almost forgotten history of the avant-garde children’s literature in Germany. The chapters in this collection open a new critical discourse about the avant-garde movement in Europe and reshape contemporary understandings of it.
With a brief nod to the broadly international and interdisciplinary nature of the avant-garde as a unifying factor, the editor Slav N. Gratchev devotes the volume’s introduction to a summary of the individual chapters without proposing an overarching structure to pull them together. This serves to emphasize the diffuse nature of the avant-garde as a tenuous assemblage of topics with the editor as more bricoleur than conductor. The twelve essays in the volume thus work as individual case histories with a tendency to examine somewhat narrow swaths of the literary, cultural, and philosophical landscape that comprised the Russian and East-European avant-garde. This degree of focus frequently makes this book a valuable guide to specific corners and niches of the avant-garde that contribute to the movement’s distinctiveness. The insights offered by a more microscopic approach to the avant-garde are evident in a number of the volume’s chapters.