Mateusz ŚwietlickiJul 7, 2023
Next-Generation Memory and Ukrainian Canadian Children's Historical Fiction
The Seeds of Memory
Mateusz Świetlicki's book Next-Generation Memory and Ukrainian Canadian Children's Historical Fiction: The Seeds of Memory (Routledge, 2023) is the first book monograph devoted to Anglophone Ukrainian Canadian children's historical fiction published between 1991 and 2021. It consists of five chapters offering cross-sectional and interdisciplinary readings of 41 books - novels, novellas, picturebooks, short stories, and a graphic novel. The first three chapters focus on texts about the complex process of becoming Ukrainian Canadian, showcasing the experiences of the first two waves of Ukrainian immigration to Canada, including encounters with Indigenous Peoples and the First World War Internment. The last two chapters are devoted to the significance of the cultural memory of the Holodomor, the Great Famine of 1932-1933, and the Second World War for Ukrainian Canadians. All the chapters demonstrate the entanglements of Ukrainian and Canadian history and point to the role Anglophone children's literature can play in preventing the symbolical seeds of memory from withering.
This volume argues that reading, imagining, and reimagining history can lead to the formation of beyond-textual next-generation memory. Such memory created through reading is multidimensional as it involves the interpretation of both the present and the past by an individual whose reality has been directly or indirectly shaped by the past over which they have no influence. Next-generation memory is of anticipatory character, which means that authors of historical fiction anticipate the readers - both present-day and future - not to have direct links to any witnesses of the events they discuss and to have little knowledge of the transcultural character of the Ukrainian Canadian diaspora.
Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed is a Preceptor in Ukrainian at the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University.