Associate Professor of Comparative Literature
Coordinator of Graduate Studies
Affiliations: Fellow, Victoria College; Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
PhD (U. Wisconsin-Madison)
Leave Status: N/A
Bio and Research:
Much of my work has been focused on alternative publishing, underground (counter-public) networks, and transnational exchange, with a focus on comparing the diverse groups doing underground publishing (samizdat) in the late Soviet Union. These alternative publishing networks entail economic and symbolic exchanges across borders. Their challenge to the hegemony of print made it possible for marginal voices to be heard, enabling the production of alternative knowledge (alternative history), and the poetic creation of new public and subject positions. I find in Soviet Jewish activism one provocative example of the pluralization of the dissident sphere, and of the symbolic exchanges involved in the interaction among Soviet Jewish activists (including refuseniks) and their supporters in the West.
The translation of avant-garde poetics from the revolutionary to the post-utopian era underpins how I understand the new imagination of authorship and readership from print to non-print modes of the text. This has driven my interest in the digital humanities, and it is at the heart of a current project to compare the neo-avant-garde poetics of the Leningrad samizdat journal 37 and the Parisian journal Tel Quel. In this project, I compare the post-structuralist and post-utopian approaches to the poetic word and writing, looking back to Mallarmé and Mandelshtam. I am also beginning to explore how visual and conceptual artists reimagined the human subject through representations of waste and wastelands, taking as my examples artists including Robert Rauschenberg, Tadeusz Kantor and Ilya Kabakov.
Research and Teaching Interests:
Twentieth-century literature and art; the history and sociology of literature and publishing; avant-garde poetics; public formation and cultural opposition. Komaromi has taught courses on public theory and literature; on Russian and Western theory (Bakhtin and Poststructuralism); and on the legacies of modernism and the avant-garde. She has also taught courses specifically on the literature and art of opposition in post-Stalin and post-Soviet Russia.
Komaromi’s first book, on the dissident subject and alternative publishing, is entitled Uncensored: The Quest for Autonomy in Soviet Samizdat, Northwestern University Press, 2015. Her electronic archive Project for the Study of Dissidence and Samizdat was launched at the University of Toronto Libraries in 2015: it includes a database of Soviet Samizdat Periodicals, illustrated Timelines of dissident movements, and interviews with activists. Her numerous publications on samizdat include articles analyzing the extra-Gutenberg mode of existence of the text (Poetics Today) and Jewish samizdat. Her edition, with introduction and notes, of Yuli Kosharovsky’s history of the Jewish movement in the Soviet Union, We are Jews Again, will be out from Syracuse University Press in 2017.