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Meet the Fellows: 2016 Newcombe Fellow Josefina Lundblad-Janjic

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This is one of a series of posts featuring Fellows from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation network.

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation is the nation’s largest and most prestigious award for Ph. D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values. The 2016 class of Fellows includes Josefina Lundblad-Janjic, a doctoral candidate in Slavic languages and literatures at the University of California, Berkeley. Ms. Lundblad-Janjic hopes to carve out a legacy for 20th-century Russian writer Varlam Shalamov:

I’d like to think that if the Russian writer on whom I’m writing my dissertation, Varlam Shalamov, was still alive today, he could report me to the authorities as his stalker. I have visited many places in Russia that were important to his life: the towns in the northern Urals where he spent his first sentence in concentration camps, his birth town of Vologda, and some of the apartment buildings in Moscow where he lived and wrote in the 1960s and 1970s. Perhaps the term “stalker” more aptly describes me and my passion for him than “scholar.” Luckily for me, and my criminal record, Shalamov passed away before I was born. Even so, his life and works have had a profound influence on my life and career. Without my enduring dedication to him and his legacy, I doubt that I would have made it this far in graduate school in the US. In the most challenging times of my studies, I used to look up at the picture of him that I had placed above my desk and tell him “I’m doing this for you.” And I was rewarded with new strength to go on because, as any true stalker would, I saw my role in his popularization as imperative. I understand that to most, even those who are scholars of Russian literature, Shalamov is a marginal author whose literary texts are read mainly as testimony and about whom little, except for his survival in the Gulag, is common knowledge. I want to change that. I want to contribute to a perception of him as the greatest Russian writer of the twentieth century. And so I continue my stalking of him— the dissertation is only one initial stage in my plan. Then I hope to write a book.

Ms. Lundblad-Janjic’s dissertation title is Shalamov’s Late Style. For more information on the 2016 Newcombe Fellows and to see a list of their dissertation titles, click here.


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