USC Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies

2012 Citation Recipient

Andreas Schönle

The University of Southern California Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies, established in 2009 and sponsored by the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Southern California, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph published on Russia, Eastern Europe, or Eurasia in the fields of literary and cultural studies in the previous calendar year.

Winner: Andreas Schönle
Title: Architecture of Oblivion: Ruins and Historical Consciousness in Modern Russia (Northern Illinois University Press)

Andreas Schönle’s study of Russian responses to ruins is original in its conception and elegant in its execution. The fruit of many years of thought and research, Schönle’s book displays impressive erudition and deep thought. He takes a relatively established concept – that of ruins and the historical loss they denote – and pushes it in entirely new and unexpected directions, thinking across distinct media and periods to reveal a surprisingly dominant cultural attitude. With its extended readings of many important texts, Schönle’s book is also a model for how to re-think cultural canons in the light of new questions and new interpretive methods. For Schönle, ruins provide a new way to think about “striking gaps and discontinuities in Russia’s historical consciousness” and “Russia’s complex and ambivalent attitudes toward modernity.” For Schönle, ruins are ultimately a site where aesthetics issues an ethical imperative: “To inhabit the ruins is to reconcile oneself with the present’s heterogeneity, to recognize its rich texture.”