Genre Studies in Russian Literary Research: Achievements and Challenges
Genre has been one of the key categories for Russian literary studies ever since the late nineteenth century, creating a long tradition of artistic, critical and scientific interpretation. The present paper aims to outline major findings of Russian scholars in the field of genre studies and to account for current pitfalls, suggesting a solution. Russian scholars have contributed noticeably to both constructing the theory of genre in general and establishing the laws and genesis of many separate genres. Historical poetics, the Russian Formalists, Bakhtin’s school and structuralism worked out the principles of generic evolution and explained the nature of the genre category. Still, currently Russian genology faces a number of challenges, among which is the inability to work out a universal approach to genre nomination and attribution, which causes inconsistent and unverified results. When it comes to describing new genres, most troubling is the choice of deductive method in genre analysis and a narrow specialist approach to each genre leading to inconclusive or biased results. The paper suggests that these challenges can be overcome by turning to the heritage of the classical Russian literary science and taking advantage of comparative and inductive methods proponed by it.