Giovanna Brogi and Ukrainian Studies



Giovanna Brogi Bercoff, Ukrainian Studies, Ukrainian philology, History of Ukrainian Studies, Italian Ukrainian Studies


In this article, I offer an overview of Giovanna Brogi’s substantial contribution to the field of Ukrainian Studies. I argue that her interest in Ukrainian literature, language, and culture developed organically from her previous scholarly involvement in the study of Polish Renaissance historiography and East Slavic medieval epistolography. This led her first to examine the persistence of medieval motifs during the Baroque period in the East Slavic lands (including Ukraine) and the correspondence between such influential early modern Ukrainian intellectuals as Dmytro Tuptalo and Stefan Javors’kyj. From studying these isolated phenomena in the 1990s, in the early 2000s, she moved on to an in-depth investigation of Ukrainian early modern culture as a system with peculiar laws and characteristics. In Brogi’s groundbreaking interpretation, Ukrainian early modern culture constitutes a system characterized by plurilingualism, multiculturalism, and a plurality of literary codes, one that should be studied with a pluralistic approach that considers its almost “ontological” diversification. According to Brogi, the very creation of a pluricultural and plurilingual system – a phenomenon that often escapes the heuristic categories of contemporary scholars – represents the essence of early modern Ukraine. Like other “polysystemic” cultures studied by Israeli cultural theorist Itamar Even-Zohar, Ukraine used its diversity as an antidote against the external forces (cultural, religious, and political) threatening its existence. The theoretical importance of Brogi’s approach can hardly be overestimated. At a time when the need to overcome traditional Russocentric (or Polonocentric, for that matter) perspectives is more acute than ever, it can lead to innovative results even in the study of modern and contemporary Ukraine.





On the 80th birthday of Giovanna Brogi