Russian Readers and Writers in the Twenty-first Century: the Internet as a Meeting Point

  • Elisa Coati

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis identifies and analyses the literary tendencies observable on the Russian Internet. In particular, it assesses which of these tendencies represent absolute novelties in Russian literary culture and which others are, instead, the legacy of traditional reading and writing habits adapted to the new media environment. This analysis is framed on one side by Internet studies, as it represents a case study of a particular segment of the Internet, and on the other side by the history of the book, as it examines the influence of computer technologies on production and consumption of literature in the context of global developments in book history, of which the Russian case is one example.In this context, this work proposes to analyse the changes in the role of the literary author in the era of user participation, keeping in mind how the contemporary cultural environment has been influencing the role of literature in Russia. Furthermore, it acknowledges the changes brought by the digital age to the distribution of, and access to, literature in a country as vast as Russia, where the literary market is nowadays subject to the laws of a capitalist economy rather than to central planning as it previously was. Finally, it focuses on how online developments in reading and writing are perceived within the debate about 'high' and 'low' cultural expressions in the Russian literary landscape. This study is carried out through the observation of online sources, such as literary communities, online libraries and self-publication websites. The main case studies are represented by websites dedicated to prominent contemporary authors Boris Akunin and Viktor Pelevin. On one hand, the thesis assesses how the authors' works and public personas are represented on the respective official websites; on the other hand, it examines fans' initiatives on websites which they themselves have created specifically to discuss their favourite authors and to share knowledge and original artistic contents inspired by Akunin's and Pelevin's books. A particular focus of interest in this work is, in fact, the point of view of readers and their relationship with the written text and with authors through online tools.Through the examples provided, it is possible to describe a literary culture ready to embrace the digital revolution, but still closely related to book culture, where traditional and innovative relationships with reading and writing coexist and both find expression on the pages of the RuNet.
Date of Award31 Dec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRachel Platonov (Supervisor) & Stephen Hutchings (Supervisor)

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