Alexander Kratochvil

Research Area 4

Stay at EEGA: September 2018 – February 2019

I am currently visiting researcher at the Institute of Czech literature at the Czech Academy of Science Prague. I just finished a project on memory and trauma studies with special focus on literature and cinema in Eastern Europe. An output of this project were amongst others two book publications.

My research project, object and goals: Confrontation and Communication. Subcarpathia as a Contact Zone in Literary discourses
Subcarpathia, a territory today mainly referred as to ”Zakarpatia Oblast” within the borders of Ukraine, belongs to the transnational region which connect East and West and South and North: Central European mountains, travel routes from Asia to Northern and Western Europe. Situated at a crossroads of states, cultures, and languages, literature of Subcarpathia resists easy categorization in terms of political, geographical, ideological, or linguistic pattern. In the academic institutions are traditionally scholarly disciplines organized largely by nation-states or languages. Culture and literature of Subcarpathia has had no logical niche. Its inherent hybridity presents a challenge to the institutionalized study subjects, and as a result, it has been neglected in cultural and literary studies. All of this suggests the need for an innovative approach to the subject, a theoretical framework that will respect the specificity of the region while take into account the multiplicity, complexity, intersecting orientations, and blurred boundaries that define it. On that background the project proposal will focus on the construction of the region into an exotic landscape by Czech writers, movie-producers and intellectuals. This image-making played a key role in the representation of this region during the 1920s and 1930s and has its impact even today. On the other side the literary production of the Rusyns as indigenous voices of this region will be questioned. The Rusyns have had to communicate always along geographical, political, sociocultural borders and create a contact zone that was already in the mid nineteenth century not separatist, but global in nature, based on communication rather than confrontation.

Literature-centrism has been, for a variety of reasons, a main characteristic of East European national cultures and societies for more than the past two centuries: the primary focus of the project will reflect the context of internationalization/ globalization 1.) on the basis of literary texts (including cinema) and essays from Czechoslovakia and 2.) in a comparative view on literary texts from Subcarpathia itself, i.e. Ukrainian, Russian resp. Rusyn texts and their writing-back.