Professor Valeria Sobol has been selected as LAS Dean's Distinguished Professorial Scholar for the academic year 2021-2022. Each year, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences awards those faculty that have shown exemplary scholarship and teaching amongst those being promoted to Professor. Among her many achievements, Professor Sobol has published a new book, Haunted Empire: Gothic and the Russian Imperial Uncanny (NIU Press/Cornell, 2020), and won the Prize for the Best Article from the American Association for Ukrainian Studies for "'Tis Eighty Years Since: Panteleimon Kulish's Gothic Ukraine," Slavic Review 78, no. 3 (Summer 2019): 390-409. Congratulations to Professor Sobol on this well-deserved award!
In the new book Haunted Empire, Sobol shows that Gothic elements in Russian literature frequently expressed deep-set anxieties about the Russian imperial and national identity. She argues that the persistent presence of Gothic tropes in the literature of the Russian Empire make them a key literary form that enacts deep historical and cultural tensions arising from Russia's idiosyncratic imperial experience. Her book brings together theories of empire and colonialism with close readings of canonical and less-studied literary texts as she explores how Gothic horror arises from the threatening ambiguity of Russia's own past and present, producing the effect Sobol terms "the imperial uncanny." Focusing on two spaces of the imperial uncanny—the Baltic north/Finland and the Ukrainian south—Haunted Empire reconstructs a powerful discursive tradition that reveals the mechanisms of the Russian imperial imagination that are still at work today.