Calling the Future: What Names in Russian and East European Science Fiction Reveal

April 15, 2021, 5:00-6:15pm (registration requested)

Join the University of Wisconsin's Center for Russia, East Europe and Central Asia (CREECA) for an online talk with Sibelan Forrester, professor of modern and classical languages and Russian at Swarthmore College, on Eastern European science fiction.

In Eastern Europe and Russia/the USSR, science fiction has often offered ways to make implicit assertions about the future. At times, this allowed depiction of plots and adventures much freer than was possible in the official style of Socialist Realism, where any future was constrained by Marxist theory: a story could assume “socialism in space” without having to specify how that happened. Authors could deploy the element of personal names, which would suggest with their ethnic and national associations that this future would be international. This talk will present a number of examples from Czech, Polish and Russian science fiction, bringing in not only nationality but also race and gender, and addresses some questions of how the names could be, or have been, effectively translated into English.

This lecture will be given over Zoom: Register here.


Sibelan Forrester, professor of modern and classical languages and Russian, Swarthmore College