“Take it as a Fairy Tale:” Varlam Shalamov as a Storyteller

Date / Time

September 27, 2023

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


University Hall


UIC Institute for the Humanities SEENEXT Working Group presents, “Take it as a Fairy Tale:” Varlam Shalamov as a Storyteller, Wednesday, Sept. 27 from 4-6 p.m. in room 1750 University Hall.

In this talk, Professor Emily Van Buskirk considers Varlam Shalamov as, in many significant ways, a storyteller on the model of Benjamin’s famous 1936 essay of that name — updated to the catastrophically unfree conditions of the Gulag, and minus the nostalgic lens. If we take Shalamov’s prose not just as document and fiction, as scholars have done previously, but rather, as document and story (in a broadly Benjaminian sense), she believes we can deepen our understanding of his creative process, aesthetics, and how his prose is intended to act on the reader.

Emily Van Buskirk is associate professor and director of the Program in Russian and East European Languages and Literatures at Rutgers University.  Her published books include Lydia Ginzburg’s Prose: Reality in Search of Literature, and two Ginzburg-related volumes co-edited with Andrei Zorin.  Her current research relates to documentary prose on the Soviet experience of the camps and Second World War.

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