URIS fellow in the 2020 autumn semester (August 2020 to January 2021)
Poetry and resistance are two key aspects of the current research project by our seventh URIS fellow, Bohdan Tokarskyi, PhD.
A Slavonic and cultural studies scholar from the University of Cambridge, Tokarskyi is exploring the life and work of the Soviet Ukrainian dissident poet Vasyl’ Stus (1938-1985) in a study titled “A Fragment of Wholeness: The Making of the Self in the Works of Vasyl’ Stus”. Stus spent the last 13 years of his life in Soviet prison and the Gulag and is revered in Ukraine as a dissident and national martyr. Bohdan Tokarskyi offers an innovative reading of Vasyl’ Stus’s oeuvre by focusing on Stus’s poetic subjectivity. The scholar seeks to elucidate the poet’s distinctive position at the intersection of Ukrainian metaphysical poetry, European modernism, and Soviet literature. Through “A Fragment of Wholeness”, he also endeavours to show how Stus’s works invite us to revisit these canons. With his innovative literary scholarship, Bohdan Tokarskyi pays tribute to the work of one of Ukraine’s most complex twentieth-century poets who is still largely unknown outside of his home country.
The subject of poetry and resistance is also the focus of the course Bohdan Tokarskyi will teach at the University of Basel in the 2020 autumn semester. The tutorial “Towards a History of Poetic Resistance in Ukraine” will centre on salient oppositions such as “nation/empire”, “individual/state” and “poet/ regime” and consider them in a historical context. The aesthetic, forms and images that shaped the tradition of the poetry of resistance in Ukraine from Taras Shevchenko to the Euromaidan will be analysed before being placed in a comparative and histoire croisée context with poetry from Russia and Poland.
Bohdan Tokarskyi studied international law in Kyiv and subsequently obtained a doctorate in March 2020 with a work of literary scholarship at the University of Cambridge, where he also taught Ukrainian Studies. Bohdan Tokarskyi’s advocacy for Ukrainian literature is not limited to the university; he has also translated Vasyl’ Stus’s poems and worked as an ad hoc advisor for the first documentary film about one of 20th-century Ukraine’s most important resistant poets.