Edward Tyerman (Slavic Ph.D. ’14; Associate Professor, UC Berkeley) was awarded the AATSEEL prize for Best Book in Literary Studies for his Internationalist Aesthetics: China and Early Soviet Culture (Columbia University Press, 2021). Tyerman received a Harriman First Book Subvention Grant for the book, which appears in the series Studies of the Harriman Institute.
WATCH the video of the book launch from February 2022.
Edward Tyerman’s Internationalist Aesthetic. China and Early Soviet Culture offers an extraordinarily detailed and nuanced exploration of Sino-Soviet cultural encounters during the 1920s, within a historical perspective. Working with a fascinating array of sources, Tyerman explores fundamental issues of new subjectivity, aesthetic forms, and political expression as envisioned by cultural agents in China and in the Soviet Union at the moment when these countries were fostering new connections in the present, while reframing the past and seeking alternative models for the future. In the spirit of its main protagonist, Sergei Tretyakov, writer, journalist, scholar, member of LEF (the Left Front of the Arts), this monograph aspires to see beyond straightforward political agendas and resists the fetishization of China as an adjacent but distant “other.” Following Tretyakov’s career trajectory and alluding to the works of his many contemporaries, each chapter presents compelling close readings of different media, including the documentary short story, poetry, ballet, film, and mediated autobiography. In discussing aesthetic works in their rich socio-historical context, Tyerman pays special attention to successes as well as failures in collaboration and translation. Engagingly told, compellingly illustrated, and intellectually rich, Internationalist Aesthetic not only opens new insights into the history of the 1920s, but also offers new models of studying collaborative internationalist knowledge production, which encompasses multiple cultural agents and perspectives.