Date of Submission

Spring 2019

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Human Rights

Project Advisor 1

Olga Voronina

Project Advisor 2

Thomas Keenan

Abstract/Artist's Statement

This paper examines Svetlana Alexievich’s genre of documenting voices of survivors of traumatic Soviet experiences through three of her books: The Unwomanly Face of War: And Oral History of Women in World War Two, Voices from Chernobyl: An Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, and Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets. It engages in a literary analysis based on the study of the narrative structure and the unique authorial techniques used by the author as a witness of other's pain and a listener actively engaged in the storytelling process. Studying these narratives of suffering, deprivation, and identity crises reveals such important elements of Alexievich's documentary prose as a hidden narrative point of view and its autobiographical subtext. These aspects of her work are still little-explored in the area of Soviet and Post-Soviet literary studies. The project demonstrates that Alexievich’s prose is similar to the investigative work and advocacy of some human rights activists, specifically because she endows the previously silent populations with agency, voice, and ability to contribute individual reminiscences to the nation's collective memory.

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Open Access

Creative Commons License

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