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Working paper

Peasant Life and Russian Identity: The Plots About Peasants and Their Cultural Meaning in Russian Literature Before 1861

The working paper explores the plot repertoire of Russian literature about peasants before 1861 and its sociocultural role for emerging models of Russianness. The author investigates different types of plots in 212 texts (fiction and drama, 1789-1861) using the methodology of ‘elementary plots’ extraction (elaborated by Tatiana Kitanina) and classifying them into such clusters as ‘Prohibited Marriage’, ‘Adultery’, etc. On the basis of such clustering, the paper analyzes the frequency of each type of plot in Russian literature and the literary and sociocultural background underlying the changes. Visualized data allows to compare the main Russian writers’ preferences and innovations in emplotment. In conclusion, frequent and rare types of plots are considered in relation to the discourse of Russianness because by the educated elite and literari perceived Russian peasants as carriers of authentic Russian identity