Mihaela P. Harper - Hosting Monsters at the End of Time

Franke Institute for the Humanities, 1100 E. 57th St., Room S102

The past is trending across the planet. In Time Shelter , 2023 International Booker award winner, Georgi Gospodinov, asks why this is the case and what our relations to time can tell us about our ways of inhabiting the twenty-first century. The novel examines a troubled European Union, in an “andante” lurch toward the brink of “a second First World War.” Between its covers, welcoming narratives of the past are rooted in and constitutive of nationalisms that provide a tangible sense of identity, a familiar narrative shelter from the vicissitudes of time. The cost? Fixed worlds. And a canceled future. Time Shelter proposes that practices of state-sanctioned oblivion and the kitsch that stands in for the world beget “discreet monsters,” implacable and uncontainable. Although reading the novel as disheartened to the point of hopelessness is warranted, I would like to offer a reading that attends to the multiple resonances of which the text is a part structurally, thematically, and globally. A material-discursive phenomenon of remembering, togetherness, and consolation, resonance enables the text to build a participatory universe that dares to be hospitable to heterogeneous histories and diffractive subjectivities.

Mihaela P. Harper is Assistant Professor in the Cultures, Civilizations and Ideas Program at Bilkent University, Türkiye. Her research spans comparative and world literatures, transnationalism, cultural critique, political theory, and continental philosophy. Among her published works are articles, book chapters, and a co-edited volume, Bulgarian Literature as World Literature (Bloomsbury, 2020).

Presented by CEERES and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.