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Taras Shevchenko: Ukrainian Nationalism, Poetry and the Jews
September 30, 2014


Taras Shevchenko, self-portrait as a soldier, 1847.
Click here to listen to the audio in our Program Archive.

Admission: General $12 | YIVO Members $8
Box Office: | (212) 868-4444

What is the relationship between poetry and nationalism? Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), who was an essential figure for Ukraine’s national revival, was also praised by Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Yiddish writers Sholem Aleichem and Abraham Reisen. Jabotinsky maintained that the Ukrainian people could not “deviate from their national renaissance” due to Shevchenko. On the bicentennial of Shevchenko’s birth, distinguished literary scholars Gennady Estraikh, moderator (YIVO; NYU), Peter Fedynsky (Shevchenko translator), Amelia Glaser (UC San Diego), and Myroslav Shkandrij (University of Manitoba) gather to discuss Shevchenko’s literary and political legacy, and his influence on Ukrainian national movements, Jewish intellectuals, and Ukrainian-Jewish artistic cooperation.

This program is sponsored by Ukrainian Jewish Encounter.

Join us at 5:15pm for a special 45-minute study-group with Professor Gennady Estraikh to discuss: “Were Taras Shevchenko’s writing and views anti-Semitic?” Attendees will read this text and discuss. This study-group is reserved for program attendees; capacity is limited so RSVP is required. To register email Leah Falk at or call (212) 294-8301 x5167.

Professor Gennady Estraikh is the inaugural Albert B. Ratner Visiting Scholar in East European Jewish Literature at YIVO in fall 2014. As part of his tenure, Dr. Estraikh will participate in two public programs and teach a class. For information about his second program visit here, and to learn more about his class, "Modernism and the Yiddish Imagination," visit here.


Gennady Estraikh (moderator) is the first Albert B. Ratner Visiting Scholar in East European Jewish Literature at YIVO in fall 2014, and Clinical Associate Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and Rauch Associate Professor of Yiddish Studies at New York University. An internationally recognized authority on Yiddish language and literature and Eastern European Jewish history, Estraikh has worked at the Oxford Institute of Yiddish Studies and the London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies. He is the author of numerous publications including, Soviet Yiddish: Language Planning and Linguistic Development (Oxford University Press); In Harness: Yiddish Writers’ Romance with Communism (Syracuse University Press); and In Yiddish Literary Life in Moscow (in Russian, forthcoming). He is also the co-editor of The Captive of the Dawn: The Life and Work of Peretz Markish (Legenda); 1929: Mapping the Jewish World (NYU Press, National Jewish Book Award); Uncovering the Hidden: The Works and Life of Der Nister (Legenda); and Soviet Jews in World War II: Fighting, Witnessing, Remembering (Academic Studies Press), among others. He is on the editorial boards of several serials and periodicals, including East European Jewish Affairs.

Peter Fedynsky translated the first complete English rendition of Taras Shevchenko’s Kobzar, a foundational text of Ukrainian literature. During his 34-year career at the Voice of America, Fedynsky hosted Window on America, a weekly TV newsmagazine that was the first U.S. Government television program to air overseas. He culminated his career as VOA Moscow bureau chief and New York TV correspondent. He also translated material for the U.S. State Department and served as a simultaneous interpreter at high-level meetings between U.S. and Ukrainian officials. Fedynsky was born in Ashland, Pennsylvania to post-war Ukrainian immigrants and grew up in Cleveland.

Amelia Glaser is Associate Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature at the University of California, San Diego. Her research centers on the intersections between Russian, Ukrainian, and Jewish literatures in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is the author of Jews and Ukrainians in Russia's Literary Borderlands: From the Shtetl Fair to the Petersburg Bookshop (Northwestern University Press) and the editor of a forthcoming scholarly volume on Ukrainian, Jewish, Russian, and Polish literary representations of the seventeenth-century Cossack Hetman, Bohdan Khmelnytsky titled Stories of Khmelnytsky: Competing Literary Legacies of the 1648 Ukrainian Cossack Uprising (Stanford University Press, forthcoming). Glaser's translations from poetry and prose include a collection of American Yiddish poetry, Proletpen: America's Rebel Yiddish Poets (University of Wisconsin Press).

Myroslav Shkandrij teaches Slavic Studies at the University of Manitoba. He has written several books on Ukrainian literature and cultural politics, most recently Jews in Ukrainian Literature: Representation and Identity (Yale University Press) and Ukrainian Nationalism: Politics, Myth, Ideology and Literature, 1929-56 (forthcoming by Yale), and Russia and Ukraine: Literature and the Discourse of Empire (McGill-Queen's University Press). He has also published and curated exhibitions on avant-garde art of the 1920s. His translations of Ukrainian authors into English include Mykola Khvylovy’s The Cultural Renaissance in Ukraine: Polemical Pamphlets (University of Alberta) and Serhy Zhadan’s Depeche Mode (Glagoslav Publications).
Venue: YIVO Institute at the Center for Jewish History  |  15 West 16th Street - NYC   view map

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All public programs are wheelchair accessible. A limited number of assistive listening devices are available for deaf and hard of hearing individuals upon request.