USC Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies

2022 Citation Recipient

Yuliya Ilchuk

The University of Southern California Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies, established in 2009 and sponsored by the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Southern California, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph published on Russia, Eastern Europe or Eurasia in the fields of literary and cultural studies in the previous calendar year.

Winner: Yuliya Ilchuk

Title: Nikolai Gogol: Performing Hybrid Identity (University of Toronto Press)

Yuliya Ilchuk’s study of Nikolai Gogol is at once far-reaching and carefully grounded. Ilchuk examines Gogol’s textual performances—oral and written alike—to demonstrate the relevance of and extend Homi Bhabha’s notion of cultural “hybridity” in a Ukrainian context. In Ilchuk’s account, “hybridity” comes to refer to the colonized subject’s capacity to open up an “in-betweenness” out of which they can destabilize hegemonic (linguistic) norms; create an “interlanguage” that encompasses greater swaths of the empire; and establish an “enunciatory” position from which they can manage dual loyalties and “enact multiplicity” via skillfully applied “masks” and “performances.” With chapters focused on cultural-historical background, Gogol’s strategies in Russian high society, various periods of his work, as well as his correspondence, textual revisions, and posthumous publications and translations, Ilchuk persuasively and precisely grounds her intervention into postcolonial theory in Gogol’s texts and their contexts. Indeed, her study is unusual in its seamless and compelling integration of critical theory with both close- and distant-reading methods, productively utilizing multiple digital humanities tools and approaches. This integrated approach powerfully illustrates how diverse disciplinary modes can be deployed in concert to a significant end. Ilchuk speaks, through her materials, directly to questions of historical and contemporary Russian and Ukrainian identities—in a way that feels urgently important. Moreover, she reflects—and shows how Gogol’s textual performances reflect—the paradoxically privileged position of multilingual populations, with their special capacity to navigate identity and empire.

Honorable Mention: Katerina Clark

Title: Eurasia Without Borders: The Dream of a Leftist Literary Commons, 1919-1943 (Belknap Press, Harvard University Press)

An epic work by a major scholar of Soviet culture history, Eurasia without Borders is a dazzling Baedeker, mapping the vast, contested history of Soviet writers’ and institutions’ efforts to engage with and influence the literatures of Central and East Asia. The book focuses on the literary subdivision of Communist International, which sought to establish a network of socialist and left-leaning writers, reaching out from Moscow to Baku, Beijing, London, the Middle East, and India. Starting with the cosmopolitanism of the avant-garde writers, such as Tret’iakov and Pil’niak, Katerina Clark moves to consider Comintern-endorsed Indian writers active in London. Further, she examines the reception and translation of Soviet socialist realist novels in China and Japan. An expansive and provocative political, cultural, and literary history, Eurasia without Borders is a major resource for scholars studying Leftist internationalism.