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Humanities, Art, and Literature
Ukraine has a long history of a distinct culture and intellectual tradition, though much of this is not translated into English. As a starting point, we suggest resources that include key texts in the Ukrainian tradition.
Ukraine in Histories and Stories by Volodymyr Yermolenko (Editor); Peter Pomerantsev (Foreword by)
This fascinating collection of texts by contemporary Ukrainian writers, historians, philosophers, political analysts, and opinion leaders combines reflections on Ukraine's history--or histories--and analyses of the present as well as conceptual ideas and life stories. The authors present a multi-faceted image of Ukrainian memory and reality: from the Holodomor to Maidan, from Russian aggression to cultural diversity, from the depth of the past to the complexity of the present. Essential reading for anyone interested in Ukraine. The contributors of this book are prominent Ukrainian historians, writers, philosophers, political analysts, and intellectuals.
Publication Date: 2020-10-20
Superfluous women: Art, feminism, and revolution in twenty-first-century Ukraine. by Zychowicz, Jessica
Superfluous Women tells the unique story of a generation of artists, feminists, and queer activists who emerged in Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union. With a focus on new media, Zychowicz demonstrates how contemporary artist collectives in Ukraine have contested Soviet and Western connotations of feminism to draw attention to a range of human rights issues with global impact. In the book, Zychowicz summarizes and engages with more recent critical scholarship on the role of digital media and virtual environments in concepts of the public sphere. Mapping out several key changes in newly independent Ukraine, she traces the discursive links between distinct eras, marked by mass gatherings on Kyiv's main square, in order to investigate the deeper shifts driving feminist protest and politics today.
Publication Date: 2020
New Imaginaries: Youthful Reinvention of Ukraine’s Cultural Paradigm by Marian J. Rubchak (Editor)
Having been spared the constraints imposed on intellectual discourse by the totalitarian regime of the past, young Ukrainian scholars now engage with many Western ideological theories and practices in an atmosphere of intellectual freedom and uncensored scholarship. Displacing the Soviet legacy of prescribed thought and practices, this volume's female contributors have infused their work with Western elements, although vestiges of Soviet-style ideas, research methodology, and writing linger. The result is the articulation of a "New Imaginaries" -- neither Soviet nor Western -- that offers a unique approach to the study of gender by presenting a portrait of Ukrainian society as seen through the eyes of a new generation of feminist scholars.
Publication Date: 2019-07-12
Contemporary Ukrainian and Baltic Art by Svitlana Biedarieva (Editor)
This volume focuses on political and social expressions in contemporary art of Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. It explores the transformations that art in Ukraine and the Baltic states has undergone since their independence in 1991, discussing how the conflicts and challenges of the last three decades have impacted the reconsideration of identity and fostered resistance of culture against economic and political crises. It analyzes connections between the past and the present as seen by the artists in these countries and looks at their visions of the future. Contemporary Ukrainian art portrays various perspectives, addressing issues from controversial historical topics to the present military conflict in the East of the country. Baltic art speaks out against the erasure of past historical traumas and analyzes the pertinence of its cultural scene to the European community. The contributions in this collection open a discussion of whether there is a single paradigm that describes the contemporary processes of art production in Ukraine and the Baltic countries. With contributions by Ieva Astahovska, Svitlana Biedarieva, Kateryna Botanova, Olena Martynyuk, Vytautas Michelkevičius, Lina Michelkevič?-, Margaret Tali, and Jessica Zychowicz.
Publication Date: 2021-12-07
Modern Ukraine has a rich tradition of fiction writing. Some important recent works, translated into English include:
Absolute Zero by Artem Chekh
The book is a first person account of a soldier's journey, and is based on Artem Chekh's diary that he wrote while and after his service in the war in Donbas. One of the most important messages the book conveys is that war means pain. Chekh is not showing the reader any heroic combat, focusing instead on the quiet, mundane, and harsh soldier's life. Chekh masterfully selects the most poignant details of this kind of life. Translated from the Ukrainian by Olena Jennings and Oksana Lutsyshyna.
Publication Date: 2020-07-07
Grey Bees by Kurkov, Andrey
Little Starhorodivka, a village of three streets, lies in Ukraine’s Grey Zone, the no-man’s-land between loyalist and separatist forces. Thanks to the lukewarm war of sporadic violence and constant propaganda that has been dragging on for years, only two residents remain: retired safety inspector turned beekeeper Sergey Sergeyich and Pashka, a “frenemy” from his schooldays.
With little food and no electricity, under ever-present threat of bombardment, Sergeyich’s one remaining pleasure is his bees. As spring approaches, he knows he must take them far from the Grey Zone so they can collect their pollen in peace. This simple mission on their behalf introduces him to combatants and civilians on both sides of the battle lines: loyalists, separatists, Russian occupiers and Crimean Tatars. Wherever he goes, Sergeyich’s childlike simplicity and strong moral compass disarm everyone he meets.
But could these qualities be manipulated to serve an unworthy cause, spelling disaster for him, his bees and his country?
Grey Bees is as timely as the author’s Ukraine Diaries were in 2014, but treats the unfolding crisis in a more imaginative way, with a pinch of Kurkov’s signature humour. Who better than Ukraine’s most famous novelist – who writes in Russian – to illuminate and present a balanced portrait of this most bewildering of modern conflicts?
Publication Date: 2020
Words for War: New poems from Ukraine by Oksana Maksymchuk (Editor); Max Rosochinsky (Editor)
The poems collected in this volume engage with the events and experiences of war, reflecting on the themes of alienation, loss, dislocation, and disability; as well as justice, heroism, courage, resilience, generosity, and forgiveness. The anthology brings together some of the most compelling poetic voices from different regions of Ukraine.
Publication Date: 2017-10-31
The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko; Nina Shevchuk-Murray (Translator)
Spanning sixty tumultuous years of Ukrainian history, this multigenerational saga weaves a dramatic and intricate web of love, sex, friendship, and death. At its center: three women linked by the abandoned secrets of the past--secrets that refuse to remain hidden. While researching a story, journalist Daryna unearths a worn photograph of Olena Dovgan, a member of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army killed in 1947 by Stalin's secret police. Intrigued, Daryna sets out to make a documentary about the extraordinary woman--and unwittingly opens a door to the past that will change the course of the future. For even as she delves into the secrets of Olena's life, Daryna grapples with the suspicious death of a painter who just may be the latest victim of a corrupt political power play. From the dim days of World War II to the eve of Orange Revolution, The Museum of Abandoned Secrets is an "epic of enlightening force" that explores the enduring power of the dead over the living.
Publication Date: 2012-10-09
Mondegreen: Songs about death and love by Volodymyr Rafeyenko; Mark Andryczyk (Translator)
Mondegreen tells the story of a refugee from Ukraine's Donbas region who has escaped to Kyiv at the onset of the Ukrainian-Russian war. Written in beautiful, experimental style, the novel shows how people--and cities--are capable of radical transformation and how this, in turn, affects their interpersonal relations and cultural identification.
Publication Date: 2022-04-19
The Orphanage: A Novel by Zhadan, Serhiy
Recalling the brutal landscape of The Road and the wartime storytelling of A Farewell to Arms, The Orphanage is a searing novel that excavates the human collateral damage wrought by the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. When hostile soldiers invade a neighboring city, Pasha, a thirty-five-year-old Ukrainian language teacher, sets out for the orphanage where his nephew Sasha lives, now in occupied territory. Venturing into combat zones, traversing shifting borders, and forging uneasy alliances along the way, Pasha realizes where his true loyalties lie in an increasingly desperate fight to rescue Sasha and bring him home.
Written with a raw intensity, this is a deeply personal account of violence that will be remembered as the definitive novel of the war in Ukraine.
Publication Date: 2021