Voiceless Vanguard: The Infantilist Aesthetic of the Russian Avant-Garde offers a new approach to the Russian avant-garde. It argues that central writers, artists, and theorists of the avant-garde self-consciously used an infantile aesthetic, as inspired by children’s art, language, perspective, and logic, to accomplish the artistic renewal they were seeking in literature, theory, and art. It treats the influence of children’s drawings on the Neo-Primitivist art of Mikhail Larionov, the role of children’s language in the Cubo- Futurist poetics of Aleksei Kruchenykh, the role of the naive perspective in the Formalist theory of Viktor Shklovsky, and the place of children’s logic and lore in Daniil Kharms’s absurdist writings for children and adults. This interdisciplinary and cultural study not only illuminates a rich period in Russian culture but also offers implications for modernism in a wider Western context, where similar principles apply.
Sara Pankenier Weld is a Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her earlier books in English include Voiceless Vanguard: The Infantilist Aesthetic of the Russian Avant-Garde (Northwestern University Press, 2014), which received the 2015 IRSCL Book Award, and Ecology of the Russian Avant-Garde Picturebook (John Benjamins Press, 2018), while she is currently completing a book entitled Miniature Revelations: Childhood in Nabokov’s Writings. She has also published articles and book chapters on a variety of Russian writers, artists, theorists and film directors in Russian, English, Danish, and Swedish. Her research focuses on childhood and children’s literature across national and disciplinary boundaries, especially in Slavic, Scandinavian, and North American contexts.