Colloquium: Riccardo Nicolosi, Counterfactual Thinking in the Soviet Union Between Historical Sciences and Literature

Lumina Quaeruntur “Images of science” in Czechoslovakia 1918-1945-1968 colloquium

Date of event
26. 1. 2023, 10:00 – 26. 1. 2018, 11:00
Place of event
Masarykův ústav a Archiv AV ČR, v. v. i. (MÚA AV ČR), Gabčíkova 2362/10, Praha 8 - Room B-110 & zoom

Zoom (for the link contact

Riccardo Nicolosi (PhD) is Chair of Slavic Philology (Literatures) at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich. His latest publications explore the rhetorical and narrative interfaces between literature and science.

In my talk I focus on counterfactual historiography and counterfactual literature, that is on thought experiments that address the question what would have happened if history had taken a different course. First I discuss the epistemological value of this kind of thought experiments in both discourses and highlight the tradition, which developed in the 20th Century in the West. Second, I analyze the fate of counterfactual story-telling in the Soviet Union, which is situated between determinism of HistMat and alternativity of and in history. Here I try to explain the difficulties that the Soviet culture had in asking the question of “What If?”. Finally I’ll give a look at the first counterfactual novel in the Soviet Union, Vasily Aksyonov’s The Island of Crimea (1981), which I read as a “historiosophic provocation”, that is, as a counterfactual reflection on the Soviet philosophy of history.

Poster (PDF)

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