Dr. phil. Bekhta Natalya

210900 €

After Utopia: World Literature and the Future of Eastern Europe

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Nelivuotinen

What happens to Utopia when the society which claimed to embody it disappears? After the demise of the Soviet Union, and in the midst of the current dystopian Russian war on Ukraine, this project investigates the fate of Utopia – as human impulse and literary form – precisely in Eastern Europe. Performing a systematic study of the aesthetic, formal and political stakes of Utopian literary production in the region from 1989 to the present, this project will show that Utopia survives, but in strange, new, often satirical, forms. By reading these forms in a global context in dialogue with contemporary theories of “world literature,” the project aims to 'deprovincialise' Eastern European futural imaginaries and to map anew the existing geographies of literary comparison. “After Utopia” is structured around three guiding categories of world literature: Utopia, satire, and the novel. It incorporates the often overlooked literary production of Eastern Europe, taking Ukrainian, Polish and Hungarian fiction as its focus corpus. With help of these categories and a wide range of localized literary cases, the project produces a multi-scalar and multidirectional model for transnational comparative analysis (thereby challenging dominant circulationist and materialist theories of world literature). Combining cultural studies, philosophy, sociology and narratology, “After Utopia” offers an innovative framework linking social and aesthetic concerns, such as localized literary figurations of a better future and ongoing global debates on planetary futures. Ultimately, the project shows that, “after Utopia”, new Utopias emerge in the interstices of historical tragedy: they are multiple, formally heterogeneous, and prefigure various alternative trajectories for Eastern Europe and the world.