The Center for Cultural Studies and the Socialism/Postsocialism Research Cluster presents Elena Gapova
Svetlana Alexievich, the recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, is known for her unique literary method that blurs the genres of oral history and documentary prose. For each book, she conducts, over the period of five to ten years, between 500 and 700 interviews with witness-participants or their surviving family members. In her montage of individual narratives, she gives a voice to several Soviet generations, if not to an entire Soviet society that has strained to make sense of the enormous suffering it experienced during the 20th century. Together, Alexievich’s books make up a series that she calls “The Chronicle of the Big Utopia, or The History of the Red Man.” Some scholars claim that Alexievich created a genre of her own, and in this presentation, her work is treated as a form of moral philosophy, a way to approach ethical issues through literature. The most prominent of these seems to be the question of the meaning of suffering, as it is encountered by a post-Soviet man at the moment when the Soviet world is crumbling and falling apart.
Elena Gapova is Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Western Michigan University; Founding Director, Centre for Gender Studies, European Humanities University (Belarusian “university-in-exile” in Lithuania).
Winter 2016 Cultural Studies Colloquium Series: