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In 1995, Mark von Hagen asked, in an influential essay, whether Ukraine had a history. Before 1991, Ukraine lacked institutions to formulate a national historical narrative, and while some might view this as historiographical ‘weakness’, for von Hagen it was a strength: in an age when writing history as prelude to the nation-state has become outdated, he noted, ‘the fluidity of frontiers, the permeability of cultures, the historic multi-ethnic society is what could make Ukrainian history a very “modern” field of inquiry’.

Event details of .ua discussions #9: Mapping Ukraine’s multicultural literary heritage
Date 17 May 2022
Time 18:00 -19:00
Location Oudemanhuispoort
Room Room D0.08 and online via Zoom

In this lecture, Dr Uilleam Blacker will suggest that von Hagen’s proposal can be applied not only to historiography, but also to Ukraine’s literary heritage: throughout the19th and 20th century, whether in the Russian or Austro-Hungarian Empires, interwar Poland or the Soviet Union, Ukrainian literature struggled to assert itself within repressive political environments and in fierce competition with other national literatures. Far from representing simply weakness, however, this context has provided contemporary Ukraine with enormous multilingual and multicultural literary richness.

The territories of contemporary Ukraine have been home to writers who wrote not only in Ukrainian, but also in Polish, Yiddish, Russian, German, Hebrew, Crimean Tatar and other languages. Despite the fact that these literatures frequently engaged in complex entanglements, they are rarely studied together; in fact, scholarship often begins by separating them from their competitors and emphasising their self-reliance and uniqueness. In this lecture, Dr Uilleam Blacker proposes a new understanding of the literary and cultural heritage of Ukraine that undoes artificial separations and argues for the adoption of a place-based, rather than national, framework. Such a framework allows for the identification of overlapping traditions and the recognition of competition, interaction and hybridization as central factors in literary systems.


If you want to attend, please register via the link below.

About the speaker

Uilleam Blacker is Associate Professor of Comparative East European Literature at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. He is the author of Memory, the City and the Legacy of World War II in East Central Europe: The Ghosts of Others (Routledge, 2019) and a co-author of Remembering Katyn (Polity, 2012). He is also a co-editor of Memory and Theory in Eastern Europe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). His research in Ukrainian, Polish, and Russian literature and culture focuses on questions of cultural memory. He has translated the works of several contemporary writers, including Oleg Sentsov’s collection of short stories Life Went on Anyway (Deep Vellum, 2019).

About .ua discussions

The .ua discussions Series emerged as a reaction to Russia’s violent assault on Ukraine. It aims to counter the information deficit that exists in the Netherlands about Ukraine and provide students and general public with a reliable commentary on Ukraine’s history, culture, society and politics. Using a compact format of weekly one-hour seminars (a mix of online and on-site events), the series will bring together academic experts of Ukraine from across Europe and the Netherlands. Short lectures (30-35 mins) will be followed by Q&A sessions.

The events will take place on Tuesday evening at 6pm. The venue is the Oudemanhuispoort; the events will be organised for an online-audience in the shape of Zoom webinars.


Room Room D0.08 and online via Zoom

Oudemanhuispoort 4-6
1012 CN Amsterdam