Seminar “Ukrainian Poetic Resistance: From Empire to War” with Bohdan Tokarsky

During the summer term of 2022, EUTIM researcher Bohdan Tokarsky will host a seminar entitled „Ukrainian Poetic Resistance: From Empire to War” at the University of Potsdam every thursday from 18:15–19:45 CEST. It will provide an overview of the history of Ukrainian literature and culture. It will do so from an unusual perspective: by focusing on poetry and the theme of resistance. Our exploration will span the period from the emergence of modern Ukrainian literature to the poetry expressing trauma and resilience in the face of Russia’s ongoing full-blown war against Ukraine.

The first work of modern Ukrainian literature was Ivan Kotliarevsky’s Eneїda (1789), a book-length poetic travesty of Virgil’s The Aeneid, which ushered in a gentle subversion of the imperial centre. Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s “first national intellectual” (Oksana Zabuzhko), and a major literary and political figure in Ukrainian history, was much less gentle in his innovative poetry. Through his anti-imperial verse, he vigorously opposed the Russian tsardom and enunciated Ukraine’s national and democratic aspirations, which led to his arrest and exile.

Taking the work of Kotliarevsky and Shevchenko as our starting point, we will then move on to examine other salient junctures of poetic resistance in Ukraine: groundbreaking women’s writing, modernist making of subjectivity in the shadow of the Soviet, dissident poetry of the self in the Gulag, ecopoetics before and in the aftermath of the Chornobyl disaster, the lyric of revolution from 1917 to the Euromaidan, among others. We will follow the trajectory of poetic resistance up to the shocking events of the war unfolding before our eyes and engendering the poetry that attempts to articulate pain, struggle, grief and hope.

The program will follow soon.

The sessions will be held in English, some materials will be provided in German. While knowledge of Ukrainian is a great asset, it is not required or expected for this course.

Time: 18:15-19:45 every Thursday. The start date is Thursday 28 April. There is a possibility to join separate course sessions too.

The seminar will be held online (via ZOOM) and open to students from other universities. If you want to attend, please express please express your interest via email (subject: “Ukrainian Course Interest”) to in order to receive the login details.