“Don’t Stop Reading: Boris Khersonskii’s Digital Poetry & Politics”
A lecture by Dirk Uffelmann, University of Passau
November 16, 2016 | Wednesday, 4–6 pm | HGS 221
Anti-Russian sentiments have been almost omnipresent in the new Ukraine since February 2014. Similar discourses occur on multiple levels: in everyday oral communications about the war in Eastern Ukraine, in popular marketing, or in the anti-Russian yet Russian-language comments on the military campaign in Eastern Ukraine that prominent Russophone poets of Ukraine publish on the Internet.
This paper addresses the performative contradiction inherent in a Russian-language-based “Russophobic” discourse. Russian-language poetry from Ukraine seems to be especially suitable for reflecting, investigating, staging or deconstructing the apparent performative contradiction of “Russophone Russophobia.” This staging of performative contradictions will be explored with special reference to the recent work of Odesa poet Boris Khersonskii, who, on his poetic blogs on Facebook and LiveJournal, often ironically stages the performative tension inherent in “Russophobia” expressed in Russian.
The investigation of Khersonskii’s poetic politics also leads to a methodological conclusion about the application of digital methods to digitally-born literary material; both the analysis of Khersonskii’s digital poetry and his own explicit media ethics (“Ne ostavliaite chteniia” [Don’t stop reading]) inform a moderate approach to digital humanities.