As a Russian formalism, a school of literary theory is called, which originated about 1915, but in 1930 was suppressed for ideological reasons. The theory and methodology of Russian formalism can be referred to as an early manifestation of the founded by Ferdinand de Saussure Structuralism.
Were in a literary situation in which somewhat indiscriminately hermeneutic, biographical or psychological interpretation methods of literary texts approached with, decided the Russian formalists, exclusively turn to the literary text itself, the literary fact. The core issue of their work was: What makes a literary work of art for such a thing is the literariness or the poeticity a literary work of art?
This was a crucial step in the direction of modern literary theories, because it was no longer a question of what a literary work of art is, that the criteria that are used to the canonization of literature. Rather, studied the Russian formalists, as literary texts "made", whether they were interested in the various methods by which literary texts are produced. Here, they analyzed the various methods of " alienation " and noted that such procedures draw the reader's attention on the content or the meaning away on the " Gemachtsein " of the text itself. Therefore in the process of alienation they saw a constitutive of literary texts and called this design principle autoreflexive dimension of linguistic works of art as their " poetic function ". An important concept that emerged in this context is that of literary evolution, which goes back to Viktor Shklovsky and Yuri Tynjanow.
In the Russian formalism special forms of semantic, phonetic or structural oppositions were examined that determine the meaning of literary texts as a kind of subtext. This oppositional structures were then explored exactly especially in structuralism.
The Russian formalists have dealt intensively with the medium of film.
Important representatives of Russian formalism Viktor Shklovsky were, Vladimir Propp, Boris Eichenbaum, Yuri Tynjanow, who was also active as a writer, and Roman Jakobson, who emigrated in 1920 to Prague and later in the United States.