Research Focus Group Talk: Are the Chornobyl Books Nature-Oriented?: Ukrainian Children’s Literature in Memory Dimensions

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Maryna Vardanian

June 7, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm


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Chernobyl and the Ecology of Disaster

The war in Ukraine raises the issue of a new nuclear threat, as five nuclear power plants are located there. Although the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the north of Ukraine is non-functional, the level of radiation is still very high. Moreover, the largest nuclear plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the south of Ukraine, is threatened with a new nuclear catastrophe and radiation pollution since the Russian military invasion (Joint Statement 2022). Ukrainians know what “nuclear pollution”, “ecological genocide”, and “eco-memory” mean because of the Chornobyl accident, the great catastrophe which occurred in 1986 near Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. In honor of this infamous event, Ukraine annually celebrates The Chornobyl Disaster Remembrance Day on April 26. This cultural memory is embodied in Ukrainian children’s literature as well as in a cartoon and computer game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Ukrainian children’s literature on the Chornobyl issue covers different genres, such as short novels, novels, eco-comics, and picturebooks. This talk assumes that literature recalls human and nonhuman interactions through cultural memory and eco-memory. Analyzing the Ukrainian children’s literature on Chornobyl issues, it aims to show that this literature is nature-oriented within memory studies. To test this hypothesis, Maryna Vardanian will discuss the following questions: How do nature-oriented writings interact with memory studies? What is the presence of the nonhuman environment in the human environment, in particular in Yevhen Hutsalo’s Children of Chornobyl (1995) and Sasha Kochubei’s Mistress of the Forest (2016)? How does the changed Chornobyl nonhuman environment interact with the human one (in the case of Anatolii Andrzhevskyi’s Chornobyl Dog Axel (2019) and Bohdan Krasavtsev’s Chornobyl Oasis (2021))? What is the ethical orientation towards the environment of picturebooks such as Kateryna Mikhalitsyna’s The Flowers beside the Fourth Reactor (2020), Kateryna Mikhalitsyna & Stanislav Dvornytskyi’s Reactors Do not Explode. A Brief History of the Chornobyl Disaster (2020), and Kirill Stepanets’ et al. Interesting Chornobyl. 100 Symbols (2022)?

Dr. Maryna Vardanian is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Translating and Interpreting, Heidelberg University (Germany). She teaches Children’s Literature, Translation Studies, and Comparative Literature courses as a Professor of the Department of Translation and Slavic Studies at the Kryvyi Rih State Pedagogical University (Ukraine). Her major research interests are Ukrainian diasporic and contemporary children and YA literature, cultural memory, and ecocriticism. Her current research project examines cultural and ideological approaches in the translation of children’s literature. She is a member of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature and a member of the editorial board of journals and program committees’ member.

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Sponsored by the IHC’s Global Childhood Ecologies Research Focus Group and the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies


June 7, 2023
12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
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