In fin-de-siècle and early revolutionary Russia, a group of self-educated workers produced a large body of poetry and prose in which they attempted to comprehend their rapidly changing world. Witnesses to wars and revolution, these men and women grappled on paper with the nature of civilization and the imperatives of ethical truth. In a strikingly original approach to Russian culture, Mark D. Steinberg listens to their words, which are little known today. The results of their literary creativity, he finds, were frequently not what the new Soviet order was expecting from its workers, despite its celebration of the notion of a proletarian art.
Mark Steinberg has taught at Harvard and Yale universities and, from 1996 to 2021, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He specializes on the cultural, intellectual, and social history of Russia and the Soviet Union in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His recent and current writing focuses on urban history, revolutions, emotions, religion, violence, space, and utopias. He is the author of a number of books and many articles and completed a video/audio lecture series.