Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




“The Russophone Literature of Resistance”: The Worldwide Launch of the March 2023 Issue of World Literature Today



This event is online only.

This online event serves as a virtual launch event for the March/April issue of the magazine World Literature Today, which contains an extended cover feature on the Russophone literature of resistance. It will be moderated by Mark Lipovetsky (Columbia University) and Kevin M. F. Platt (University of Pennsylvania), the co-editors of the special section, and will feature appearances by the writers and Mikhail Shishkin, Maria Stepanova (former Harriman Writers in Residence) and Ruthie Jenrbekova. This event is co-sponsored by World Literature Today, the Romanoff Center for Russian Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Russian & East European Studies as well as Columbia University’s Harriman Institute.

The writers included in “The Russophone Literature of Resistance” represent a broad swath of contemporary Russian-language cultural production, transcending the contested borders of the Russian Federation proper: they include poets, novelists, critics, essayists, translators, cinema critics, publishers, bookstore owners, academics, festival organizers, and cultural impresarios writing in Russian but often with multilingual vocabularies and transnational topoi in their poems and essays. They share Russian as their common language of creative expression, not only centered in the cultural metropolises of Moscow and St. Petersburg but from far-flung outposts of post-Soviet geography and neo-Russian empire—or from oppositional spaces beyond its borders.

To make the cover feature widely accessible to readers around the world, WLT is making the entire section free to read during the month of March 2023. (The digital edition, which can be read on the WLT website, will go live on February 27.) In solidarity with the people of Ukraine, WLT is also (once again) making the July 2022 cover feature devoted to Odesa and Kharkiv—which included responses by Ukrainian writers to the Russian invasion and the first months of the war—freely available during the month of March.


  • Ruthie Jenrbekova, PhD Candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
  • Mikhail Shishkin, Prominent Author of fiction and essays
  • Maria Stepanova, Poet and Essayist
  • Mark Lipovetsky, Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages, Columbia University
  • Kevin M.F. Platt, Professor of Russian and East European Studies, University of Pennsylvania
  • Daniel Simon, Editor in Chief and Assistant Director, World Literature Today
  • Emily D. Johnson, Co-Director of the Romanoff Center for Russian Studies, Brian and Sandra O’Brien Presidential Professor of Russian, University of Oklahoma

Featured Writers

Ruthie Jenrbekova was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and graduated from the Kazakh State University as an ecologist. Since 1997, she has been involved in various literary, artistic, and curatorial activities and also works as a cultural organizer. Together with Maria Vilkovisky, she is the cofounder of the imaginary art institution krёlex zentre. Her fields of interest include performance philosophy, material semiotics, and art-based methodologies. Currently a PhD candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, she lives and works in Almaty and Vienna.



Mikhail Shishkin is a prominent author of fiction and essays. His work has been recognized with multiple awards, including the Russian Booker, the National Bestseller Prize, the Big Book Prize, and, most recently, the Italian Strega Prize. He is a long-standing and outspoken critic of the Putin regime whose essays have been published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Le Monde, and elsewhere. Since 1995, he has lived and worked in Switzerland.



Maria Stepanova has long played a central role in post-Soviet culture as a leading poet of her generation and essayist. Her many awards include the Andrei Bely Prize and the Joseph Brodsky Fellowship. Her novel In Memory of Memory (2021) was recognized with the Big Book Prize and the NOS Literary Prize, among others. Originally from Moscow, she currently resides in Berlin.



Guest Editors


Mark Lipovetsky is a professor in the Department of Slavic Languages at Columbia University. Among his many publications are books on Russian postmodernism, New Drama, Dmitry Prigov, and post-Soviet literature. Lipovetsky is also one of four co-authors of A History of Russian Literature (Oxford, 2018). He was awarded the Andrei Bely Prize for his contributions to literary studies.



Kevin M. F. Platt is a professor of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He works on Russian poetry, history, and memory in Russia and eastern Europe, global russophone culture, and translates contemporary Russian poetry. He is the editor of Global Russian Cultures (Wisconsin, 2019). His new book, Border Conditions: Russian-Speaking Latvians between World Orders, is forthcoming from Cornell University Press / Northern Illinois University Press in 2023.


WLT Editor

Daniel Simon is the editor in chief and assistant director of World Literature Today, the University of Oklahoma’s award-winning magazine of international literature and culture. A Nebraska native, he received his MA and PhD in comparative literature—with an emphasis in translation studies—from Indiana University, Bloomington. At OU, in addition to his work at WLT, he teaches for the Department of English and serves on the affiliate faculty of the Department of International & Area Studies and the Schusterman Center for Judaic & Israel Studies. A poet and translator, his newest edited collection, Dispatches from the Republic of Letters: 50 Years of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, was named a Publishers Weekly starred pick in 2020.

Co-director of the Romanoff Center for Russian Studies

Emily D. Johnson is co-director of the Romanoff Center for Russian Studies, the Brian and Sandra O’Brien Presidential Professor of Russian at the University of Oklahoma, and a member of the editorial board for World Literature Today. Her most recent book publication is Rethinking the Gulag: Identities, Sources, Legacies (Indiana University Press, 2022), which she co-edited with Alan Barenberg.




Event Video