Fellows for Academic Year 2017-2018

Oleh Kotsyuba

Oleh Kotsyuba

College Fellow, Harvard University

Title of Research:

"A Quiet Revolution: Ukrainian Poets in Search of an Alternative Reference Frame" 


This project examines strategies employed by Ukrainian writers of the late 1960s and 1970s in dealing with the Soviet state that aimed at omitting it to the greatest possible extent from their work and everyday life. Their withdrawal from public life and from participation in the political system, abandoning ambitions of publication in state-owned journals and presses was not just a form of escapism or inner emigration. In their works, many of these writers and poets attempted to create and alternative cultural reality, one that worked quietly to undermine the ideological underpinnings of the official Soviet literature and art. This study breaks new ground in reconstructing the conditions of political and cultural transformations in the late Soviet Union. It also offers a revision of the concept of revolution: one that, although devoid of ideological struggle and stretching over a decade, succeeds in replacing not the governing political regime but the cultural foundation on which it was built. The key question asked by this project is how a departure from Sovietism - the Soviet form of authoritarianism - became possible in Ukraine by remains impossible in Russia. This book-length study will be realized as a series of discussions of the life and works of such writers and Vasyl’ Stus, Mykola Vorobiov, Ivan Semenenko, and Hryhorii Chubai, with contextual consideration of Oleh Lysheha and Vasyl’ Herasym’iuk.

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