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19 May 2022 - 19 May 2022
1:00PM - 2:00PM
A research seminar in our Global Literatures strand.
In this talk I explore the possibilities of developing world-literary theory with the help of methods and models of narrative studies. In particular, I propose to examine the status of the novel as the dominant genre of world literature — a genre so capacious that it seems to contain all contemporary narrative fiction regardless how formally diverse. This capaciousness is reinforced by the international literary market, on the one hand, and by recent world-literary theories of the novel, on the other (e.g. Bartoszynska 2021). I argue that literary production of the world-literary semi-periphery, such as contemporary Ukrainian fiction, challenges such arguments about the generic monopoly of the novel. Satirical developments in post-1990s Ukrainian literature and the more recent quasi-journalistic role of fiction and poetry in Ukraine illuminate the material (linguistic, formal) expression of genre and the “historical struggle of genres” (Bakhtin 1981, 5). By combining a world-systemic framework and narratological attention to symbolic form, I seek to reframe the dominant world-literary understanding of the novel with the help of evidence drawn from the European world-literary semi-periphery. My discussion in this talk will be grounded in one particular literary case study, Volodymyr Rafeyenko’s Mondegreen (published in Ukrainian in 2019; English translation in 2022).
Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Finland)
Natalya Bekhta is currently working on a book project called After Utopia: A World-Literary Reconstruction of the former 'Second World'. Her recent publications include a monograph, We-Narratives: Collective Storytelling in Contemporary Fiction (2020; winner of the Perkins Prize 2021), and a special issue of Style on "We-Narratives and We-Discourses across Genres" (54.1, 2020).