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Valeria Sobol
University of Illinois (Champaign, IL 61801-3620)
The Haunted Empire: The Russian Literary Gothic and the "Imperial Uncanny," 1793-1844

The Haunted Empire: The Russian Literary Gothic and the Imperial Uncanny asks why Russian Romantic literature consistently portrays the empires peripheries as haunted spaces and the locus of Gothic encounters. I argue that the Gothic mode served as a particularly apt form for "the imperial uncanny" -- the experience of danger and uncertainty in the ambiguous colonial space within Russias borders. Diverging from the prevailing view of the Russian Gothic as an imitation of the Western literary trend, my project reconceptualizes this body of literature as a key genre that dramatizes uniquely Russian imperial anxieties and concerns (e.g., Russias fluid boundaries, cultural dependence on the West, and the clash between imperial and national identities) and offers a powerful critique of empire. The book will be of interest to Russian historians and literary scholars, as well as to a broader audience of scholars of the Western Gothic and those interested in new approaches to empire.

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Project fields:
Russian Literature

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2014 – 7/31/2014