The Research Project entitled “On both sides of the Iron Curtain: the cultures of dissent and the definition of European identity in the second half of the twentieth century between Italy, France and the USSR (1956-1991)” is financed by the call “Researchers’/Assistant Professors’ Competitive Projects of the University of Florence”. The two-year-long project is hosted by the Department of Languages, Literature and Intercultural Studies of the University of Florence (April 2019), now FORLILPSI since March 2017. The project’s Scientific Chiefs are:

Teresa Spignoli (Associate Professor – Modern and Contemporary Italian Literature) and

Claudia Pieralli (Tenure Track Associate Professor – Slavic Studies/Russian Literature).

The research area includes the various forms of dissent culture that from the fifties onwards have concerned the European context, with particular regard to the comparison between Western and Eastern Europe, notably the Franco-Italian area and the Slavic one, (Soviet Russia, Belarus and Ukraine). These areas are characterized by the emergence of similar forms of protest against the cultural and political establishment, which express themselves in an antithetical but specular manner, in relation to the axis that separates the eastern bloc from the western one. The project aims to problematize the geocultural concept of Europe starting from its internal historical, social, and ethnocultural diversities, especially interested, with the end of the Second World War, in the West/East dividing axis, more than in the South/North axis, or the axis that divides Western Europe from Eastern Europe, included in the sphere of influence of the Soviet bloc.

For this reason, the strongly symbolic and relevant dates considered are 1956 (the beginning of de-Stalinization and a reflection within the West on the critical issues of communism) and 1991 (the year of collapse of the USSR and therefore of abolition of the Iron Curtain).

The historical events that mark all the mentioned countries (including the XX Congress of the CPSU and the start of de-Stalinization, the ‘Hungarian Revolution’ of 1956, the French May, the Italian Sixty-eight and the Prague Spring) are connected to forms of literary and cultural contestation: in Italy, for instance, an important role was played by “Group 63”, in France by the experience of the “Tel Quel group” and the nouveaux romanciers, and, generally speaking, by the verbal-visual experimentation in the international sphere (Visual Poetry, Lettrism, Situationist International, but also Moscow Conceptualism, and Post-modernism in USSR).

As far as concerns the Soviet area and the countries of the Soviet bloc, we consider the whole culture expressed by dissent and conveyed clandestinely through the widespread Samizdat circuit and, in a second moment, the Tamizdat. Thus, the formation of a wide area of an Underground culture network emerging in the second half of the twentieth century involves the two political blocs in which Europe was divided.