Nariman Skakov, assistant professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Stanford University, is the special section guest editor for the Winter 2014 edition of Slavic Review.

Skakov, Mieka Erley (Colgate University), Philip Ross Bullock (Oxford University), and Eric Naiman (UC Berkeley) all contributed articles to the issue on Soviet writer Andrei Platonov and his works on Turkmenistan. Platonov, whom Skakov calls an “engineer of the human soul,” was both a writer and a practicing engineer who traveled to Turkmenia in the early 1930s in both capacities.

All three authors tackle different aspects of Dzhan, the novella written by Platonov during this period. Erley offers up alternative readings for Dzhan and explores how the Turkmen Kara-Kum desert, the setting for Dzhan, presented a challenge to the Soviet visions of technological utopia. Bullock focuses on the importance of gaze as a path to ideological and emotional cognition and how Dzhan and it’s Central Asian setting heightened the importance of gaze in the text. Skakov’s own article explores the concept of borderline between human and animal domains in the Soviet Union and the appearance and implications of these themes in Dzhan.

by Marilyn Harris (’16)