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(Re)Discovery: Modernist Travelogues by Sofia Yablonska, A Daring Ukrainian Woman Globetrotting in the 1930s

Hanna Leliv, Univesrity Translator in Residence

October 26, 2023 · 12:00 pm1:20 pm · 161 East Pyne

Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication

Had social media existed in the 1930s, “Distant Horizons” —an engrossing travel diary which PIIRS Translator-in-Residence Hanna Leliv is translating into English — would have gone viral, and its author, the self-identified Ukrainian writer and photographer Sofia Yablonska, would have become an instant sensation as a travel blogger with thousands of followers. In this collection of imaginative vignettes, Yablonska describes her round-the-world journey from France to Port Said, Colombo, Saigon, Bangkok, and all the way to Bora Bora. The travelogue not only documents her wanderlust, but invites the reader on an introspective journey from perception to reflection, from mapping foreign terrain to self-mapping.

The figure of Sofia Yablonska is complex and unconventional — just like her writings, which have only recently been rediscovered and properly appreciated. Why should it now be the turn of readers beyond Ukrainian borders to discover Yablonska? What does it take to adequately introduce an earlier cultural production from a less well-represented culture to a contemporary audience? And does it even make sense to do so, given the number of urgent texts dealing with the Russian war against Ukraine that need to be translated and published? This lecture invites participants to reflect on these questions and gain a deeper insight into the vibrant and diverse Ukrainian literature.

Co-sponsored by the Humanities Council, The Program in Contemporary Politics & Society (EPS), and The Program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (REES).

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