Kevin Platt (University of Pennsylvania): Wavelength, Exchange and the Temporality of the Aesthetic: On Liminality and Avantgardism
What happens when poetry is broadcast by radio across state borders, or across a crowded room? Russophone Latvian Literature of the Twenty-First Century balances across multiple borders — between Latvian and Russian languages and literary scenes, between the legacies of Soviet social life and contemporary European realities, between the institutional and literary circuits of Russia, Latvia and Europe, and between forms of media. This lecture will be devoted to discussion of the Riga-based Orbita Group, as well as some other, less prominent figures in Russophone Latvian cultural life, and to the processes of translation and broadcast that bring their work to diverse audiences across the globe. The Orbita Group, in particular, has over the past decade or so experimented with the apparatus and the metaphor of the radio. As analysis of both their radio-practices and writings demonstrates, it is the geographical position and mobility of this literary activity that undergirds its innovative significance to multiple “broadcast audiences”. In sum, my lecture will explain how liminal spatiality relates to avant-garde temporality, and how peripherality and distance can place one, paradoxically, at the centre of the literary system.