NEH logo
[Return to Query]

Products for grant FT-61594-14

FT-61594-14
The Haunted Empire: The Russian Literary Gothic and the "Imperial Uncanny," 1793-1844
Valeria Sobol, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FT-61594-14

‘A Melancholy Stepson of Nature’: Finns and Finland in Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature and Ethnography (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: ‘A Melancholy Stepson of Nature’: Finns and Finland in Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature and Ethnography
Author: Valeria Sobol
Abstract: This paper explored the constructions of Finland and its inhabitants in the Russian press and ethnographic publications of the 1840s. Romantic works about Finland, physiological sketches and supposedly “objective” ethnographic descriptions reveal a persistent pattern of portraying the Finnish national character and history as directly determined by Finland’s gloomy and sublime landscape and the strong pagan element of Finnish culture, which also shape its destiny as a docile object of the Russian empire’s “enlightening” colonial mission.
Date: 11-21-2015
Primary URL: https://convention2.allacademic.com/one/aseees/aseees15/index.php?cmd=Online+Program+View+Event&selected_box_id=193781&PHPSESSID=i2v3ef5puolp3qus0osd630gl3
Primary URL Description: Convention program
Conference Name: Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) annual convention.

“‘Gloomy Finland’ and the Russian Imperial Gothic” (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: “‘Gloomy Finland’ and the Russian Imperial Gothic”
Author: Valeria Sobol
Abstract: This talk is based on one of the chapters from Professor Valeria Sobol’s book in progress, Haunted Empire: The Gothic and the Russian Imperial Uncanny, 1790-1850. The book explores the connection between the Gothic and empire in Russian literature, focusing on the portrayal of Northern and Southern imperial borderlands as uncanny spaces. In this lecture, Professor Sobol will discuss the image of “gloomy” and Gothic Finland constructed in Russian literary and ethnographic publications of the 1840s. While being intimately linked to Russian foundational narratives, such the “invitation of the Varangians” and the construction of St. Petersburg, Finland emerged as an exotic and mysterious land after its incorporation into the Russian empire in the early nineteenth century. Finland’s ambivalent status in the Russian cultural imagination, along with the Gothic connotations of its majestic sublime landscape and its reputation as a “land of wizards,” made it a particularly apt setting for the Russian imperial uncanny. The lecture will offer a brief analysis of Vladimir Odoevsky’s novella “The Salamander” (1844) meant to demonstrate this function of Finland in Russian Gothic literature. While most ethnographic and literary texts depict the Finns as a magic-prone, semi-mythological people destined by both history and geography to be ruled by others and enthusiastically embracing the Russian civilizational mission, Odoevsky offers a far more complex and darker picture, using the narrative of the conquest of Finland to critique both Russia’s historical path and Western modernity more generally.
Date Range: 09/26/2017
Location: Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center, University of Illinois
Primary URL: https://calendars.illinois.edu/detail/7?eventId=33283765

“Haunted Empire: The Russian Literary Gothic and the Imperial Uncanny, 1790-1850.” (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: “Haunted Empire: The Russian Literary Gothic and the Imperial Uncanny, 1790-1850.”
Author: Valeria Sobol
Abstract: This talk will introduce my new book project, Haunted Empire: The Russian Literary Gothic and the Imperial Uncanny, 1790-1850, in which I investigate the connection between the Gothic elements found in numerous Russian literary works of the period and their imperial context. I argue that the persistent presence of Gothic tropes in Russian literature is not a just a tribute to a fashionable Western literary trend, as it is often interpreted; rather, I read it as a key literary form that dramatizes deep historical and cultural tensions, unique to the Russian imperial situation. Focusing on two spaces of internal otherness that figure prominently in the Russian Gothic—the Baltic/Scandinavian “North” and the Ukrainian “South,”—I attempt to reconstruct the specifically Russian tradition of the “imperial uncanny,” a fictional space into which the Russian empire projected its colonial fantasies and anxieties and where it produced the doubles and monsters that continue to haunt Russia’s historical imagination.
Date Range: April 2016
Location: Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Stanford University

“Haunted Empire: The Russian Literary Gothic and the Imperial Uncanny, 1790-1850.” (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: “Haunted Empire: The Russian Literary Gothic and the Imperial Uncanny, 1790-1850.”
Author: Valeria Sobol
Abstract: In this talk I introduced my new book project, Haunted Empire: The Russian Literary Gothic and the Imperial Uncanny, 1790-1850, in which I investigate the connection between the Gothic elements found in numerous Russian literary works of the period and their imperial context. I argue that the persistent presence of Gothic tropes in Russian literature is not a just a tribute to a fashionable Western literary trend, as it is often interpreted; rather, I read it as a key literary form that dramatizes deep historical and cultural tensions, unique to the Russian imperial situation. Focusing on two spaces of internal otherness that figure prominently in the Russian Gothic—the Baltic/Scandinavian “North” and the Ukrainian “South,”—I attempt to reconstruct the specifically Russian tradition of the “imperial uncanny,” a fictional space into which the Russian empire projected its colonial fantasies and anxieties and where it produced the doubles and monsters that continue to haunt Russia’s historical imagination. In this talk, I focused on the "Ukrainian" part of my book and especially the last chapter that examines Panteleimon Kulish's first historical novel _Mikhailo Charnyshenko, or Little Russia Eighty Years Ago._
Date Range: May 2015
Location: Chair of Slavic Literatures and Cultures, University of Passau, Germany
Primary URL: https://www.phil.uni-passau.de/aktuelles/meldung/detail/haunted-empire-the-russian-literary-gothic-and-the-imperial-ucanny-1750-1850/

“Gothic Ruins: The Ghost of the Ukrainian Past in Panteleimon Kulish’s Mykhailo Charnyshenko, or Little Russia Eighty Years Ago.” (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: “Gothic Ruins: The Ghost of the Ukrainian Past in Panteleimon Kulish’s Mykhailo Charnyshenko, or Little Russia Eighty Years Ago.”
Author: Valeria Sobol
Abstract: This presentation is part of my book project, Haunted Empire: The Russian Literary Gothic and the Imperial Uncanny, 1790-1850. The book argues that in Russian literature the empire’s peripheries are consistently depicted as dangerous, ambiguous places that destabilize the characters’ imperial identities. They become sites of the imperial uncanny, a fictional space into which the empire projected its colonial fantasies and anxieties and where, through Gothic tropes, it produced the doubles and monsters that continue to haunt Russia’s historical imagination. Haunted Empire focuses on two spaces of internal otherness that figure prominently in the Russian Gothic: the Baltic/Scandinavian “North” and the Ukrainian “South.” In this presentation I will discuss the historical novel Mykhailo Charnyshenko, or Little Russia Eighty Years Ago written by prominent Ukrainian writer Panteleimon Kulish in 1843. The novel attempts to conjure the ghost of the Ukrainian “authentic” and heroic past, before the Russian empire fully incorporated this region in the late eighteenth century, and produces a vision of its relative cultural independence and chivalric tradition in Gothic-fantastic imagery. The mixed reception of the novel in the Russian press, ranging from admiration for its heroic and folkloric motifs to denying Ukraine any historical past whatsoever, encapsulates the imperial fantasies and fears provoked by the literature of the imperial uncanny.
Date Range: 09/30/2014
Primary URL: http://calendars.illinois.edu/detail/2750/32002891


Permalink: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/products.aspx?gn=FT-61594-14