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October: The Russian Revolution and Revolutionary History

El Lissitzky, ‘10. New Man’ 1923
El Lissitzky, 10. New Man 1923. Tate

Award-winning fiction writer China Miéville leads a discussion on the portents and possibilities of revolution 

Award-winning fiction writer China Miéville leads a discussion on the portents and possibilities of revolution 

China Miéville’s new book October: The Story of the Russian Revolution opens a window onto a century of revolution. The Russian Revolution was a blast in the continuum of history that gave way to huge political and social transformations, introducing extraordinary change from radical aesthetics to a new Soviet calendar. The award-winning author is joined by Esther Leslie, Professor in Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, and Owen Hatherley, author of The Ministry of Nostalgia and Landscapes of Communism, to explore the revolutionary concept of history as theorised by Walter Benjamin, speculative storytelling and what the Russian Revolution might tell us about contemporary moments of crisis. 

The event precedes the 2017 Tate Modern exhibitions Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into the Future and Red Star Over Russia, which will explore the themes of Soviet society and identity. 


China Miéville is the multi-award-winning author of many works of fiction and non-fiction. His fiction includes The City and the City, Embassytown and This Census-Taker, and has won the Hugo, World Fantasy and Arthur C. Clarke awards. He has written for various publications, including the New York Times, Guardian, Conjunctions and Granta and he is a founding editor of the quarterly Salvage.

Owen Hatherley writes regularly on architecture and cultural politics for Architects Journal, Architectural Review, Icon, The Guardian, The London Review of Books and New Humanist, and is the author of several books: Militant Modernism, A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain and Landscapes of Communism. He received a PhD in 2011 from Birkbeck College, London, for a thesis on Constructivism and Americanism.

Esther Leslie is Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is a leading expert on Marxism and Marxist theories of aesthetics and culture. Her books include Walter Benjamin: Overpowering Conformism and Derelicts: Thought Worms from the Wreckage. She is also an editor for Radical Philosophy and Historical Materialism.

In partnership with Verso.

Tate Modern

Starr Cinema

London SE1 9TG
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Date & Time

12 May 2017 at 18.30–20.00

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