Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Tatyana Tolstaya in the 2000s: from Soviet Nostalgia to Pandemic Baking

Fri31  Mar01:15pm(15 mins)
James Watt South Room 375


Mikhail Vodopyanov1
1 University of St Andrews, UK


How is nostalgia for the Soviet past constructed in contemporary Russian non-fiction, and what discursive strategies are employed for this purpose? This paper presents an analysis of short nonfiction by the Russian writer and public intellectual Tatiana Tolstaya (b. 1951) of the Tolstoy family. Starting in the 2000s, ‘the “normalisation” of the Soviet past’ became the primary focus of ‘official discourse on Russian and Soviet history and has been welcomed by the population’; the discursive void left by the dismantling of the Soviet foundation myth was being filled in by the new Russian state and society’s ‘desire to “normalize” the Soviet past, to provide Russians with a “usable past”’ (Khapaeva 2009: 361). Tolstaya’s semi-documentary and autobiographical output in the 2000s presents such a discursive reframing of the Soviet past, often through the lens of nostalgia. Additionally, this paper highlights recent shifts in Tolstaya’s activities as she engages in selling her own signature Christmas pudding and flavoured nuts. The theoretical framework of this analysis is informed by approaches drawn from discourse analysis studies, such as Fairclough (1989, 1995), Wodak (1996; 2008; 2016) and others.