REEEC is pleased to welcome Dr. Oleksandra Wallo as a new faculty affiliate. Dr. Wallo is a Visiting Lecturer and Language Coordinator in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. She received a degree in English and Translation from the Ivan Franko National University (L’viv, Ukraine) in 2002, her M.A. in Russian and Comparative Literature from Pennsylvania State University in 2004, and her Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures in 2013.
Her recently defended dissertation, “Post-Soviet Women Writers and the National Imaginary,” seeks to add to the existing scholarship on the boom of contemporary women’s writing in the post-Soviet space by examining the historical, political, and literary reasons for such a boom in the case of Ukraine. She looks at how post-Soviet women writers have attempted to renegotiate women’s (and women writers’) traditional roles in and vis-à-vis their newly independent postcommunist nation through fiction that engages the questions of gender and national identity. She hopes that her study shows that contrary to the often disparaging views of women’s literature as narrow-minded “chick-lit” (and one encounters such views both in the U.S. and in Eastern Europe), much post-Soviet women’s prose is complex, political, and far-reaching in its attempts to rethink the dominant views on the nation, its Soviet past, and its post-Soviet present.
During Dr. Wallo’s graduate school years at Penn State and Illinois, she did quite a lot of research on 20th- and 21st-century Slavic theater. Although that research did not appear in her dissertation, which focused on prose fiction, she is excited to return to it now. In particular, she is interested in exploring how contemporary Slavic theater deals with the historical traumas of the 20th century by employing means that, at first sight, may seem unsuitable for the work of mourning–black humor, satire, and grotesque. Currently, she is looking at the recent plays about the man-made Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933, some of which engage in such unusual work of mourning.
Dr. Wallo is very excited to be back at the University of Illinois. She said that “when given the opportunity to return to familiar surroundings and to a wonderful cohort of colleagues, I welcomed it.”