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What Words Cannot Convey: Traumatic Experience and the Search for a New Language in Ukrainian Literature after 2014 (with Olena Haleta)

May 2, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

This event is co-sponsored and co-hosted by the NYU Department of Russian and Slavic Studies.

Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian-Ukrainian war has grounds to become one of the most described events in our history. In particular, this is due to the development of technologies that allow any participant or witness to create and record text directly during the events. However, the current literary situation began to take shape not from February 24, 2022, but from the time of the Revolution of Dignity and the following Russian invasion. The literature of the war, which appeared in fundamentally new conditions of direct violence, testified to the profound changes that took place in the nature of artistic expression: from the loss of the very ability to speak, through the development of a new poetics of the voice and body, through literalism as the restoration of the connection between the word and reality and the rejection of metaphor in favor of metonymy – to the formation of a new idea of literature. A literature is treated as ‘individual language’ and ‘collective therapy’, as a process of giving senses to the dramatically changed world. Understood as a sphere of imagination and at the same time as a mechanism of representation, a literature has been re-thinking its attitudes to the reality and also used for constructing of the ‘common places’ of anthropological and emotional experience.

This event will take place in person and on Zoom. Both our in person and Zoom format will be fully open to the public. Access the Zoom meeting here. Non-NYU affiliates must RSVP. The Jordan Center is located at 19 University Place, on the second floor. 

Olena Haleta is a professor of literary theory and comparative literature at Ivan Franko National University of Lviv and professor of cultural anthropology at Ukrainian Catholic University (Ukraine). She has researched and taught modern and contemporary Ukrainian literature at universities and academic institutions in the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, Austria, Poland, Croatia, and Czech Republic. In the spring semester of 2023, she is a visiting professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. She has worked as a co-organizer of international projects dedicated to the intellectual history of the twentieth century and the role of art and literature in crisis situations and times of transition. She is an author, co-author, and co-editor of eight books on the literary history of modern Ukraine including the monograph From Anthology To Ontology: Anthology as a Means of Representation of Ukrainian Literature of the late Nineteenth – early Twenty-first Centuries and the special issue of the academic journal Književna smotra under the title Seeing Ukraine: Independent Literature of 1991-2021. Her forthcoming book New Writings: Ukrainian Literature in an Anthropological Perspective analyzes current changes in the understanding of the concept of literature and focuses attention on “blurred” literary genres as unique forms of expression determined by both aesthetic searches and a combination of historical, cultural, and personal circumstances.


May 2, 2023
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm


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