Bilyana Kourtasheva


Post-Doc in Theory and History of Literature, New Bulgarian University, Sofia

Krzysztof Michalski Junior Visiting Fellow
(September 2016 – January 2017)


Ethical Limits of Contemporary Fiction: Narrating Genocide and Femicide at the Beginning of 21st Century

Three extraordinary, disturbing novels from the first decade of 21st century: Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald, 2666 by R. Bolano, Les Bienveillantes by J. Littell. Each of them focuses on mass violence and death and enacts the failure of literature to deal with the inexpressible. This conscious failure, I would argue, is the only chance to reject the ready clichés of fictional and sublime and to point at the ruins of humanity. My project is an examination of how literature confronts the traumas of Modernity and Postmodernity today when everything is broadcasted, yet artists get killed for drawings.



From Theresienstadt to Santa Teresa: The Inexpressible in the Last Novels of W.G. Sebald and Roberto Bolaño

Consciously or not, nearing the end of their lives both authors felt that they should go straight to the "heart of darkness" in their next work. In the middle of the 1990s, when each of the two had already achieved considerable literary recognition and as the end of 20th century drew near, they took up subjects with a link to mass violence and death and created works of dark gravity which obsessively circle around a kind of black hole that gradually sucks in the characters and the readers.
Read more