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Wisconsin Slavic Conference 2023 Keynote Lecture: “Memory on the Move: Narrating Ukrainian Refugee Experiences during the War” with Yuliya Ilchuk

March 24 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

As the result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ten million Ukrainians have been forced to leave their homes. Among the refugees there are some prominent writers and artists from the Donbas, who combine political conviction and individual creativity to voice genuine humanistic concerns and create art out of their traumatic experiences. In her talk, Professor Ilchuk will examine the relationship between forced displacement, memory, and identity. Places do not remember, move, or create identities. People do. Hence, displacement, memory and identity are the embodied experiences which are remembered, reconstructed, and reenacted in a new environment, creating an in-between space of “I am here now but I am only here temporarily until I can go back home.” Professor Ilchuk will examine some of the idiosyncrasies of this phenomenon of displaced memory in the literary works of Iya Kiva and Volodymyr Rafeenko and in the visual projects of the artists of the displaced cultural institution IZOLYATSIA (“Isolation”).

A Soviet revision of a famous saying asserted that “When the cannons sound, the Muses are silent”. Yet that is often far from the case, and artistic resistance to evil can often be a powerful force. Professor Ilchuk’s lecture will bring home the horror and the heroism of the War in Ukraine, and will allow the university community to gain valuable insights – intellectual, artistic, emotional, moral – into the current complex and fluid situation. As Professor Ilchuk is one of the most eloquent interpreters of contemporary Ukrainian literature, this lecture will provide a rare opportunity for the audience to engage with works of art that speak directly to the human condition in extremis.

Professor Ilchuk is one of the most brilliant young scholars of Ukrainian and Russian literature at work today.  Her first book,  Nikolai Gogol: Performing Hybrid Identity from University of Toronto Press (2021), has already been awarded two of the most prestigious book prizes in the field. She is also a noted translator of contemporary Ukrainian poetry.

This event is co-sponsored by the Slavic unit of the department of GNS+ and the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia.


March 24
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm