Ann Komaromi

Affiliations: Fellow, Victoria College; Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
PhD (U. Wisconsin-Madison)

KomaromiContact Information

Phone: 416-813-4041
Leave Status: N/A

My interests include alternative publishing, underground networks and nonconformist literature and art, especially in the Soviet Union after Stalin. Alternative publishing networks challenged the hegemony of print. As I have described them, they made it possible for marginal voices to be heard and thus enabled the production of other types of knowledge (including alternative history), while they also facilitated the creation of new forms of public imagination and subject positions. I have studied uncensored novels from the perspective of writers and readers, and analyzed the economic and symbolic exchanges entailed by their circulation within and across borders. I have sought to draw attention to the diversity of groups active in the alternative public sphere in the Soviet Union. I devoted particular attention to Jewish activism as one provocative example of the pluralization of the dissident sphere; as part of this work, I have partnered with former refusenik activists to publish studies of the Jewish movement in the Soviet Union.

Collaboration with colleagues has made it possible for me to present the history of samizdat publishing and publics via digital humanities platforms as well as in print. I continue to develop such scholarly and public communications with newer projects on the legacy of Soviet dissidence and resistance to state violence as seen through memoirs and archives.

I have a special interest in the translation of avant-garde techniques and strategies from the revolutionary to the post-utopian era, and I am curious about the uses of multiple media to support new reflections on history, subjectivity, epistemology and ethics. These interests inform a project to compare the use of trash and used objects in art works by Robert Rauschenberg, Tadeusz Kantor, Ilya Kabakov, and in exhibits in Holocaust museums.

Research and Teaching Interests:
Twentieth-century literature and art; the history and sociology of literature and publishing; avant-garde poetics; public formation and cultural opposition; international reception of nonconformist literature, art and dissidence. Seminars on public theory and literature; on the sociology of books and texts; on art and the archive; on Russian and western theory (Bakhtin and Poststructuralism); and on the legacies of modernism and the avant-garde. Courses on late Soviet literature and culture; canonical literature; the novel; Joyce’s Ulysses.


Soviet Samizdat: Imaging a New Society, Northern Illinois University Press, 2022.

Katalog periodiki Samizdata, 1956-1986 (A Catalog of Samizdat Periodicals, 1956-1986), published together with Gennadii Kuzovkin, Moscow: Mezhdunarodnyi Memorial, 2018.

Uncensored: The Quest for Autonomy in Soviet Samizdat (on novels by Vasilii Aksenov, Andrei Bitov, Venedikt Erofeev), Northwestern University Press, 2015.

Creator and Editor, Project for the Study of Dissidence and Samizdat, University of Toronto Libraries, 2015.

“Soviet Jews: Making History,” in Yuli Kosharovsky, “We Are Jews Again”: Jewish Activism in the Soviet Union, translated by Stefani Hoffman, edited by Ann Komaromi, 3-18. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2017.

“Underground Materials: The (Un-)making of Soviet Samizdat,” The Life Cycle of Russian Things: From Fish Guts to Fabergé. Edited by Matthew P. Romaniello, Alison K. Smith and Tricia Starks, Bloomsbury Academic, 2021.  

“The Voices of Samizdat and Magnitizdat,” The Oxford Handbook of Soviet Underground Culture. Edited by Mark Lipovetsky, Ilja Kukuj, Tomáš Glanc, Maria Engström, and Klavdia Smola. Published online, Dec. 2021.  

“Soviet Trash: The Reception of Ilya Kabakov’s Art Beyond the USSR,” Le culture del dissenso in Europa nella seconda metà del Novecento, Eds. T. Spignoli and C. Pieralli, Between (Journal of the Italian Association for the Theory and Comparative History of Literature) X.19 (2020): 189-222, .

“Between Two Worlds: Late Soviet Jews in Leningrad,” East European Jewish Affairs, 48.1 (2018): 23-40.

updated August 1st, 2022