Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize

2011 Citation Recipient


Matthew Jesse Jackson

The ASEEES Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize, sponsored by ASEEES and the Stanford University Center for Russian and East European Studies, is awarded annually for the most important contribution to Russian, Eurasian, and East European studies in any discipline of the humanities or social sciences published English in the United States in the previous calendar year.

The 2011 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize was awarded to Matthew Jesse Jackson for The Experimental Group: Ilya Kabakov, Moscow Conceptualism, Soviet Avant Gardes (Chicago University Press).

Matthew Jesse Jackson’s book, The Experimental Group: Ilya Kabakov, Moscow Conceptualism, Soviet Avant Gardes, is an engaging, beautifully written, and erudite study of unofficial Soviet art. It makes a strong case for Kabakov’s achievements across multiple art forms, and provides brilliant readings of numerous individual drawings, albums, mixed media work, and installations. Moving far beyond his own field of art history, Jackson makes a major statement about Soviet society, culture, and politics as a whole. Without idealizing the late Soviet period in the least, he shows how its norms of cultural conversation, the organization of work and free time, occasional but critical moments of access to Western innovations in the arts, emerging new philosophies of the artistic process, and the important role of viewer (or reader) response all conspired to make possible extraordinary art. Jackson prompts us to recognize the “period of stagnation” as a time of intellectual ferment–with the Soviet citizenry acting as the ultimate “experimental group.” This monumental study of creativity in and after the late Soviet period is a remarkable scholarly achievement.

Honorable Mentions

Paulina BrenThe Greengrocer and his TV: The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring (Cornell University Press)

Gabriella SafranWandering Soul:  The Dybbuk’s Creator, S. An-sky (Harvard University Press)

Timothy SnyderBloodlands:  Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books)

Christina VatulescuPolice Aesthetics:  Literature, Film and the Secret Police in Soviet Times (Stanford University Press)