Straddling Borders: Literature and Identity in Subcarpathian Rus'
Published: May 2003© 2003
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 576 Pages
Dimensions: 6.23 x 9.25
576 Pages, 6.23 x 9.25 x 1.66 in
The Subcarpathian Rusyns are an east Slavic people who live along the southern slopes of the Carpathian mountains where the borders of Ukraine, Slovakia, and Poland meet. Through centuries of oppression under the Austro-Hungarian and Soviet empires, they have struggled to preserve their culture and identity. Rusyn literature, reflecting various national influences and written in several linguistic variants, has historically been a response to social conditions, an affirmation of identity, and a strategy to ensure national survival.
In this first English-language study of Rusyn literature, Elaine Rusinko looks at the literary history of Subcarpathia from the perspective of cultural studies and postcolonial theory, presenting Rusyn literature as a process of continual negotiation among states, religions, and languages, resulting in a characteristic hybridity that has made it difficult to classify Rusyn literature in traditional literary scholarship.
Rusinko traces Rusyn literature from its emergence in the sixteenth century, through the national awakening of the mid-nineteenth century and its struggle for survival under Hungarian oppression, to its renaissance in inter-war Czechoslovakia. She argues that Rusyn literature provides an acute illustration of the constructedness of national identity, and has prefigured international postmodern culture with its emphasis on border-crossings, intersecting influences, and liminal spaces. With extracts from Rusyn texts never before available in English, Rusinko's study creates an entirely new perspective on Rusyn literature that rescues it from the clichés of Soviet dominated critical theory and makes an important contribution to Slavic studies in particular and post-colonial critical studies in general.
'Rusinko's study is richly imagined, thoroughly researched, lucidly written. Rusinko deals very thoughtfully with the many specific problems raised by individual works, but she also looks at more general issues. The vivacity, the sheer critical intelligence with which such problems and issues are being posed constitute some of the most outstanding features of this book. The strongest aspects of Literature and Identity in Subcarpathian Rus' are Rusinko's intellectual courage to challenge the long-standing scholarly paradigm that ignores Rusyn literature; her prodigious research, the sine qua non of responsible scholarship; and her sophisticated conceptual framework attentive to current debates in critical theory, particularly postcolonial theory and cultural studies.'Halina Filipowicz, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Wisconsin, Madison