Russian Formalism

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Emily Van Buskirk (Rutgers University)
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Formalism, a major school of literary criticism, developed in Russia in the early twentieth century. Emerging in 1915, two years before the Bolshevik Revolution, the Formalist movement thrived for more than a decade despite rising opposition and pressure from Marxist ideologues. The Soviet authorities decisively silenced the Formalists in 1930. Notwithstanding an abbreviated history, Formalist ideas, methods, and studies have had a strong and lasting impact on literary theory, perhaps most directly on the development of Structuralism and Semiotics.

The name “Formalism” is, in a sense, unfortunate in as much as it suggests a study of literature that narrowly confines itself to form, with a disregard for content and the extrinsic factors that shape texts. The Formalists themselves

3115 words

Citation: Van Buskirk, Emily. "Russian Formalism". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 December 2006 [, accessed 23 June 2024.]

979 Russian Formalism 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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