Roman Koropeckyj and Robert Romanchuk: Academic Visitors in October

Members of the Mykola Zerov Centre for Ukrainian Studies Professor Marko Pavlyshyn and Dr Alessandro Achilli are planning a major research project titled “Literary Genre and Nation-Building.” The project aims to explore the different roles that various literary genres – epic, lyrical and satirical poetry, historical novel, drama – play in the shaping of national audiences and national perspectives on the world. Developments in nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first-century Ukraine will be examined in the context of developments in other cultures of Eastern and Central Europe.

Roman Koropeckyj
Robert Romanchuk

Participants in this international project include Professor Roman Koropeckyj (University of California at Los Angeles) and Professor Robert Romanchuk (Florida State University), who will come to Monash in early October to contribute to a planning workshop. The visits are funded, respectively, through Monash University's Faculty of Arts Distinguished Visiting Scholar Scheme and the Grant Incentive Scheme of the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics (LLCL).

Professors Koropeckyj and Romanchuk will deliver a joint presentation, detailed below, in the research seminar series of the School of LLCL.

In addition, Professor Koropeckyj will deliver a public lecture, “Harkusha, the Ukrainian Robin Hood, Takes His Final Bow.” (Details)

Roman Koropeckyj and Robert Romanchuk: Joint Presentation
at the LLCL School Seminar

Pre-National Writing between Knowledge and Enjoyment: The Case of Little Russian Literature

Time: Wednesday 3 October, 1-2 p.m.

Venue: Japanese Studies Centre, 12 Ancora Imparo Way, Clayton Campus (map)


The appearance of Nikolai Gogol’s Evenings on a Farm near Dikan'ka compelled critics at the start of the 1830s to recognize the existence of the chimerical, creolized writing that they provisionally named “Little Russian literature.” This corpus of works by, among others, Narezhnyi, Somov, and Kvitka-Osnovianenko—written (usually) on Ukrainian themes and on a linguistic continuum between Ukrainian and Russian—was thought to be distinct from its imperial counterpart, being national (narodnyi) in a way that Russian literature was held not to be; the critics even “supposed” that it could teach “being national” (narodnost') to Russian literature.

Our presentation argues that this critical supposition had a transferential structure—in terms of one subject’s relation to another subject “supposed to know”—which poses a challenge to nationally-oriented approaches to (e.g., Ukrainian and/or Russian) literatures, on the one hand, and to postcolonial approaches that suppose a mute(d) subaltern subject, on the other. We also propose that Little Russian writers’ use of pseudonyms and the theme of hidden or buried treasures are imaginary/real reflexes (or introjections) of this symbolically-structured transference. Taken together, they reveal that Little Russian literature knew more than one thing about “being national” that the critics—and perhaps even its own writers—did not.

Little Russian literature would soon be forgotten (or repressed) by the nationally-oriented criticism of the 1840s, its writers distributed between the “new” Russian and Ukrainian literatures; and yet, in its last bit of legerdemain, it would (re-)form these literatures on the very basis of its own forgetting.


Roman Koropeckyj is a professor at the Department of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures at UCLA, where he has been teaching since 1992. He received his BA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University in 1976 and his PhD in Slavic Languages & Literatures from Harvard University in 1990. Koropeckyj is the author of articles and books on Polish, Ukrainian, and Little Russian literatures, most notably an award-winning biography of Poland’s national poet Adam Mickiewicz (Cornell UP, 2008).

Robert Romanchuk (PhD 1999, UCLA) is Pribic Family Associate Professor of Slavic in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Florida State University and a 2018–19 HURI/Ukrainian Studies Fund Research Fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. His fields are philology and psychoanalysis. In the former field he has published a monograph and a number of book chapters and articles, and is currently preparing a critical edition of the Old Slavonic translation of the Byzantine epic Digenis Akritis. In the latter field his monographic project is titled Gogol’s Mirgorod: Four Ways to Write a Perverse Symptom.