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2010 has been a busy year for the Future of Russian project, with a particularly high number of FoR panels and individual papers at conferences all over the world – Los Angeles, Cambridge, Stockholm, Minsk, Moscow, Tampere, Seoul, Edinburgh.

In Bergen, Gasan Gusejnov and Vera Zvereva were of great inspiration to the core group during their guest research stays in April and May-June. They participated in seminars and gave several talks during their stay, and we have also had guest lecturing visits by Vladimir PlungjanVictor Sonkin, and Boris Orekhov, in addition to a presentation by Galina Timchenko and Artem Efimov (Lenta.ru) of their online dictionary project.

Dirk Uffelmann has organized a Future of Russian course in Passau, with the participation of Michael Gorham and Gasan Gusejnov – we hope to see a few of this course’s students at our February meeting in Passau.

A selection of F2 papers are being prepared for publication, and I hope to have some news about our proposal for a special issue of [a leading international journal] in February.

As for new plans and initiatives, we will be publishing a biannual newsletter starting this January. Ellen Rutten will be in charge of that. Also, we’ve just sent out a first Call for Papers for a conference in St Petersburg 19-22 October this year (“Virtual Russia: Digital Space and Post-Soviet Political Culture”), in co-operation with Helge Blakkisrud of the Department of Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs as well as with the Bergen-based project Web Wars, led by Ellen. I do hope that many Futurants will be able to take part!

The FoR site’s section “Futurants in the Media” has not been updated for a while, but will be soon.

As a Landslide-cum-Future spin-off project, Martin Paulsen, Sasha Berdichevsky and I have, together with a few colleagues from the Spanish department, developed a course to be offered at this year’s international PhD summer school at UiB. The course is called “Norms and Language” – please help spreading the word to potential candidates (PhD students of all countries).

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2010 has also been a sad year. It is still unbelievable that Daniela Hristova, active partner of both the Landslide of the Norm and the Future of Russian projects is no longer among us, and her scholarly enthusiasm and cheerful spirit will be sorely missed when we meet again in Passau in a month’s time, for the third FoR conference.

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A Happy New Year 2011 to all FoR partners and supporters.

With our F2 conference on “Play” coming up in January a general update on Russian humour — outside of its new technology context — could be useful. Two recent books for this (and other) purpose(s): the edited volume: Olga Mesropova & Seth Graham, eds. Uncensored?: Reinventing Humor and Satire in Post-Soviet Russia, Slavica 2008 and Seth Graham’s monograph on the Russian anekdot: Resonant Dissonance: The Russian Joke in Cultural Context, (Studies in Russian Literature and Theory), NUP 2009.

The edited volume offers contributions on Russian humor and satire in post-Soviet literature, jokes, film and TV, music and stand-up comedy. With a constant view to the role of humour, satire, jokes and irony in the Soviet society, the analysis of post-Soviet humor and satire, in the words of the editors “contributes to the ongoing scholarly discussion both of how Russians have negotiated the effects of the post-Soviet transition and how today’s popular culture playfully “re-appropriates” Soviet history. (8)”

Graham’s book explores the Russian anekdot in its cultural context(s), with chapters on the genealogy of the word and the genre, its main functions, thematic clusters, the genre’s reflexivity (meta-jokes) and post-Soviet afterlife. The book makes delightful reading, not only because of all the funny examples (unfortunately, only in English translation). Happy reading!

In view of the upcoming Future II conference in Berlin (main thematic focus: Play), you might be interested to learn that the journal New Literary History has recently published a special issue on Play, volume 40 (1) 2009. Cf in particular Marie-Laure Ryan’s article: “From Playfields to Fictional Worlds: A Second Life for Ariosto”.

The Future of Russian research project has established a blog. As discussed at the F1 conference in Solstrand, it would be good to have a place/forum to tip off colleagues about interesting links, articles, books, events, pose questions, discuss etc. We start by opening this blog and will see how it developes. Perhaps, with time, it will look more like a regular blog focusing on Russian online culture. Meanwhile, let us share interesting things we read and hear. Good luck!