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As a movement in literary studies and a school of literary theory and analysis, formalism emerged in Russia and Poland during the 1910s. In Russia its official beginning was marked by an establishment of two organizations: the Moscow Linguistic Circle, founded in 1915 by such linguists of Moscow University as Roman Jakobson, Grigory Vinokur, and Petr Bogatyrev; and the Society for the Study of Poetic Language (or OPOYAZ, an acronym for the group's name in Russian), founded in 1916 in Petrograd (later Leningrad and then St. Petersburg—the city's original name) by literary scholars such as Osip Brik, Boris Eikhenbaum, and Viktor Shklovsky, as well as the linguist Lev Yakubinsky. A few years later the latter group was joined by the literary theorists Boris Tomashevsky and Yury Tynianov, along with some other scholars from the Petrograd State Institute of Art History.

In Poland the beginning of formalist ideas dates back to as early as the period 1911 to 1914, when Kazimierz Wóycicki, the founder of Polish formalism, wrote his first works on literary scholarship. Yet despite its early indigenous beginnings, formalism in Poland had to wait until the mid-1930s to take concrete shape as the Polish Formalist School, which had two centers: Warsaw and Wilno (present-day Vilnius, Lithuania). Highly indebted to Russian formalism, which by 1930 had already been suppressed by Stalinist pressures, the school was formed by Manfred Kridl, who integrated the movement by drawing together his own students from the University of Wilno, notably Maria Renata Mayenowa, Maria Rzeuska, and Czeslaw Zgorzelski, and some other students from the University of Warsaw, including Kazmierz Budzyk, Dawid Hopensztand, and Franciszek Siedlecki.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Ferroelectric materials to Form and matterFormalism - Origins, Autonomy And "science" Of Literature, Literariness And Device, Poetic Language, What Is Literature?