Prisma Ukraïna Discussion
Tue 30 Nov 2021 | 16:00–17:30

The Un/Executed Renaissance: Ukrainian Soviet Modernism and Its Legacies

Roundtable Discussion with Uilleam Blacker (University College London), Rory Finnin (University of Cambridge), Mayhill Fowler (Stetson University) and Bohdan Tokarsky (University of Potsdam)

Online event via ZOOM

Damaged painting “Rozstril v Mezhyhiri” (“Execution in Mezhyhiria”, 1927) by Vasyl Sedliar, one of the Boichukist artistis. Provided by courtesy of the National Art Museum of Ukraine (NKhMU), Kyiv, inventory number ZhS-2495.
Damaged painting “Rozstril v Mezhyhiri” (“Execution in Mezhyhiria”, 1927) by Vasyl Sedliar, one of the Boichukist artistis. Provided by courtesy of the National Art Museum of Ukraine (NKhMU), Kyiv, inventory number ZhS-2495.

As a starting point, this virtual event will feature the presentation of Bohdan Tokarsky’s study “The Un/Executed Renaissance: Ukrainian Soviet Modernism and Its Legacies”, which has been recently published in the Essay series of the Forum Transregionale Studien. The participants of the roundtable will then go on to discuss together the salient questions that this work raises, including the place of Ukrainian (Soviet) modernism in the study of global modernisms and Soviet studies, the fascinating relationship between tradition and innovation, past and future in this modernism, as well as the legacy of the Ukrainian Soviet culture of the 1920s in post-Soviet Ukraine, among others.


Bohdan Tokarsky’s “The Un/Executed Renaissance” is Essay No. 8 in the open access Essay series “Essays of the Forum Transregionale Studien”.

Download PDF or read online

The event will take place virtually via ZOOM. In order to receive the login details, please register at office(at)

Uilleam Blacker is Associate Professor in the Comparative Culture of Russia and Eastern Europe at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. His monograph Memory, the City and the Legacy of World War II in East-Central Europe was published by Routledge in 2019. He is co-author of Remembering Katyn (Polity, 2012) and co-editor of Memory and Theory in Eastern Europe (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013). He has published widely on Ukrainian, Polish and Russian literature and culture. He has also translated the work of several contemporary Ukrainian writers, including, most recently, Oleg Sentsov’s short story collection Life Went On Anyway (Deep Vellum, 2019). 

Rory Finnin is University Associate Professor of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Cambridge. He is the Founding Director of Cambridge Ukrainian Studies (2008-2018); former Head of the Department of Slavonic Studies (2014-18); and former Chair of the Cambridge Committee for Russian and East European Studies (CamCREES) (2011-18). Rory Finnin’s primary research interest is the interplay of literature and national identity in Ukraine. He also studies Soviet Russian dissident literature, Turkish nationalist literature, and Crimean Tatar literature. His broader interests include solidarity studies, nationalism theory, human rights discourse, and problems of cultural memory in the region of the Black Sea.

Mayhill Fowler is a historian and associate professor in the Department of History at Stetson University, where she also directs the Program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. She holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University (2011). She was a Mihaychuk Fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (2012) and the Petro Jacyk Fellow at the University of Toronto (2012-2013). She was a Fulbright Scholar in Ukraine 2019-2020 and is an affiliated researcher with the Center for Urban History in Lviv and a member of the Shevchenko Scientific Society in New York. Her first book, Beau Monde on Empire's Edge: State and Stage in Soviet Ukraine (Toronto, 2017; finalist for Ivan  Franko Prize in 2020), tells the story of the making of theater both Soviet and Ukrainian through a collective biography of young artists and officials in the 1920s and 1930s. Her book project, Comrade Actress: Soviet Ukrainian Women on the Stage and Behind the Scenes, re-thinks theater in Ukraine over the long 20th century through a focus on its women. A second research project War Stories: Theater on the Frontlines of Socialism investigates how societies explain war and entertain soldiers through the story of PrykVO, the theater of the Carpathian Military District (or former Soviet Army Theater) in Lviv. She has published widely on all aspects of theater and culture in Ukraine, most recently in Slavic Review and Ukraina Moderna. She holds a master’s degree in Acting (MFA) from the National Theater Conservatory (2000) and a BA in Slavic Languages from Yale University (1996).

Bohdan Tokarsky works at the Institute for Slavic Studies at the University of Potsdam as part of the research project “Europäische Zeiten / European Times – A Transregional Approach to the Societies of Central and Eastern Europe” (EUTIM). He has been a 2020/2021 Prisma Ukraїna Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien. Bohdan Tokarsky completed his doctoral work as a Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge, where he also taught as Affiliated Lecturer in Ukrainian Studies. In his doctoral thesis, he explored the works of the Soviet Ukrainian dissident poet Vasyl Stus. He was also awarded the fellowship of the Ukrainian Research in Switzerland initiative at the University of Basel, where he taught and pursued further research on Vasyl Stus and Soviet (Ukrainian) modernism. In addition to his academic work, Bohdan Tokarsky has also been part of various translation, theatre and poetry projects. He co-authored the verbatim play “The Summer Before Everything” on revolution and war in Ukraine that was staged in Cambridge and Oxford in 2016. He has been engaged in literary translation, in particular working on the translation of the poetry of Vasyl Stus. He has also (co)organised a number of impactful cultural events, with the most recent being the Kharkiv International Theatre Festival 1919-2019: Kulish. Kurbas. Shakespeare, which showcased some of the prominent works of Ukrainian modernist drama.


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