Making Sense of Hybrid Cultural Production in the Russian Empire: The Case of Nikolai Gogol
During the post-Soviet transition, both Russia and Ukraine have been preoccupied with defining their national codes, while showing little interest in regional identification and hybrid cultures and languages. I hope that my research on hybrid cultural production in the empire during the time of Nikolai Gogol will rectify the situation and further the postcolonial and decolonial studies within the Slavic literary field. In my talk, I will demonstrate how Nikolai Gogol and the Ukrainian intellectuals of his time (Orest Somov, Vasyl Narizhnyi, Panteleimon Kulish, and Mykola Kostomarov) contributed to the creation of a heterogeneous imperial culture in their efforts to translate Ukrainian “otherness” for the metropolitan audience, in their hybrid language practices, and in various strategies of ethnic disguise and camouflage. The broader theoretical questions are considered as well: whether hybridity, considered in the Russian-Ukrainian context, can provide an alternative to the essentialist categories of “pure” and “authentic” national identities, and how writing simultaneously to the imperial and national audiences can help us rethink the ethnic communitarian and civil liberal traditions not as opposed but as inseparable phenomena in nation-building.