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Title: "Contemporary Russian Dystopia on Netflix: To The Lake"


Abstract: This paper will focus on Pavel Kostomarov’s sci/fi dystopian TV series To the Lake (2019) distributed by Netflix, based on Russian writer Yana Vagner’s 2011 (Engl 2016) novel Vongozero. Both create an apocalyptic scenario, which today may be recognized as reality, with an unfolding mysterious and horrifying epidemic, and no less horrifying totalitarian measures seeking to contain it. Bearing in mind Donna Haraway’s statement that “the boundary between science fiction and reality is an optical illusion,” I will be posing the question whether the genre of the series may be viewed as dystopia, or rather an allegory. I will thus address the global issues of precarity and risk culture, felt especially acutely in the current era of climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, combined with the specifically Russian reality and the present-day epidemic of state terror. 

Bio: Julia Kuznetski (née Tofantšuk) is Associate Professor of British Literature and curator of Liberal Arts in Humanities BA programme at Tallinn University, Estonia. Her research and teaching interests include contemporary Anglophone literature, art, culture and film; gender and feminist criticism; diaspora studies; ecocriticism, ecofeminism, cli fi and dystopian literature and film. She is the author of a number of publications in these areas, for example Women on the Move: Body, Memory and Femininity in Present-day Transnational Diasporic Writing, co-edited with Silvia Pellicer-Ortin (Routledge, 2018) and, most recently, “Disempowerment and Bodily Agency in Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments and The Handmaid’s Tale TV Series” (The European Legacy, V 26/3-4, 2021, pp. 287-302). Kuznetski is a member of ASLE, FINSSE, ESSE, Estonian Women’s Studies Center, founding member of Tallinn University Gender research group, Lexington Books’ “Ecocritical Theory and Practice” series editorial board member, and writer and reviewer for ISLE and Ecozon@: European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment.

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