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ARCHIVES  Danyliw Seminar 2018

Nick Kupensky

Bowdoin College (US)

Nick Kupensky is the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Russian at Bowdoin College, who received his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Yale University. His research investigates the intersection of aesthetics, economics, and politics in Russia, Ukraine, and the United States. He launched a digital/public humanities initiative, The Emil Kubek Project, researching the stories of Slavic immigrants who worked in America's mining industry.

PRESENTATION

Abstract

Blindness, Hypnosis, Addiction, Fetish: The Language of Denial

in Soviet Industrial Travel Narratives

Nick Kupensky

In the early 1930s, America's bookshelves were invaded by what one reviewer called an “army of books on Russia”, many of which were based upon the author’s tour of the monumental building projects constructed during the First Five-Year Plan. As the Five-Year Plan came to a close, Western journalists traveled to Soviet Ukraine to witness the launch of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station (DniproHES), which took place alongside the starvation of the countryside. One of the mysteries of the Holodomor is that it failed to produce strong emotional or psychological effects on many of the journalists who saw its horrors up close. Kupensky’s essay investigates the journalists’ use of the language of denial and explores how in post-Maidan Ukraine the city of Zaporizhzhia is finding creative ways to negotiate the ambivalent legacy of Soviet industrialization with the memory of the victims of Holodomor.