Lana Krys 1

Svitlana Krys

Kule Chair in Ukrainian Studies and Assistant Professor, MacEwan University

When did you first develop an interest in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies?

I developed an interest in Ukrainian studies as an undergraduate student. I was always interested in my own culture, having been influenced by my mother, who is a teacher of Ukrainian language, literature, and culture, and her passion for her subject. However, my interest in an educator role grew after I participated in a year-long undergraduate exchange program at an American university. As an international student, I found myself in conversations with my peers and other members of the college community, about Ukraine, its newly acquired independence and attempt to position itself in the world, and its ongoing struggle with its Soviet colonial past. This led me to pursue an MA and, subsequently, a doctoral program at the University of Alberta, Canada. As a graduate student instructor I taught Ukrainian language and culture to a mixed group of heritage and second-language speakers, and as a young scholar explored ideas that remained largely unstudied in Ukrainian literary criticism, including the Gothic literary movement in Ukraine, which subsequently became the topic of my doctoral dissertation. Currently, at MacEwan University, I continue to help students discover the yet unknown wonders of the Slavic, and specifically the Ukrainian, world through literature, culture, and other media. Now I do so not only through teaching, but also by organizing research presentations and events made possible by the endowment associated with my position.

How have your interests changed since then?

I received a classic Slavist training during my MA and doctoral programs that aimed to prepare me to teach Ukrainian literature, language, and culture in a Slavic department; however, in my present position, I work as a Ukrainianist and comparative literature/English scholar, integrating Ukrainian Studies into a broader sphere of English literature, comparative literature, and humanities courses. MacEwan does not have a Slavic program, so as the Kule Chair in Ukrainian Studies, it is my role to develop the study of Ukraine and Eastern Europe as an integral component of larger humanities courses, hoping to reach students who otherwise would not have an opportunity to learn about Ukraine or the Slavic world.

What is your current research/work project?

My current research focuses on the development of the Gothic genre in Ukrainian literature, and I am now working on a book manuscript, tentatively titled “At the Origins of the Ukrainian Gothic.” The book will contribute to the growing body of literature that stresses the international character of Gothicism and investigates the histories of the Gothic literary movement outside of strictly Victorian Britain. My focus is on the unique manner in which Ukrainian Romantics appropriated and utilized West European Gothic techniques in their horror oeuvre. This is an underexplored area in both Ukrainian and Slavic literary scholarship and will contribute to the discipline of comparative literature by drawing theoretical conclusions regarding the development and modification of the Gothic genre in a cultural context where it was not indigenous. To this effect, I published several articles, including one on the relationship EWJUSbetween E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Gothic tales and the writing of Nikolai Gogol/Mykola Hohol, and another theoretical article on the development of the comic Gothic mode in Ukrainian Romanticism. The former article won the Best Article award from the American Association for Ukrainian Studies.

A good part of my academic career has been devoted to scholarly editing and publishing. Recently I took on the role of Editor-in-Chief of a peer-reviewed, on-line periodical East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies (EWJUS), published by the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. EWJUS is one of a very few publications in North America (and is the only academic journal in Canada) that specialize in Ukrainian Studies. EWJUS presents the Ukrainian humanities and social sciences in comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives and invites contributions on a wide range of subjects. I invite ASEEES members to explore our recently published vol. 4, no. 1 (2017) —the first volume under my aegis as editor-in-chief:

What do you value about your ASEEES membership?

I have been presenting at ASEEES conventions since my time as a doctoral student, and I appreciate the diversity and multitude of voices, and the themes and subfields that the conference and membership offer. Panels, plenaries, and social events organized by ASEEES affiliate members; book fairs, informal meetings, and conversations with colleagues—all offer chances to keep abreast with new developments in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian studies as well as in the humanities and social sciences. I often attend panels not only on Ukrainian literature—the field of my immediate research interests—but also on history, political science, intercultural connections, sustainable humanities, and other subjects. In addition to my personal interest, I find that participation extends the dimensions of my teaching, helping me to prepare more challenging discussion questions and lectures. I think when students open their eyes to new perspectives on classical works, they begin to understand the relevance of these cultures to their own young, cosmopolitan lives in the 21st century. In the current climate of a liberal arts crisis and the prioritization of career-oriented education over a liberal education, I find the academic dialogue that the ASEEES offers to be proof of the vitality, and I hope the sustainability, of the liberal arts field.

Besides your professional work, what other interests and/or hobbies do you enjoy?

I enjoy spending time with my family, to whom I am forever grateful for support in my long path towards an academic career. As cliché as it sounds for a literature professor, my favourite pastime has always been reading: I enjoy all kinds of literary genres, and most of all find pleasure in drawing connections between my culture and the multivoiced literatures of the world.