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Helena Bodin

About me

I am professor of Literary History at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics at Stockholm University.


My research concerns the functions of literature at boundaries, such as between languages, nations, arts and media. I have particularly studied modern literature's engagement with the Byzantine Orthodox Christian tradition, from the various perspectives of cultural semiotics (2011), intermedial studies (2013), and translation studies (2002), including aspects of multilingualism.

As a participant in the research programme World Literatures – Cosmopolitan and Vernacular Dynamics, I am working on a subproject called "Cosmopolitan longings and vernacular belongings. Constantinople in literary fin-de-siècle and high modernism."

The aim of this subproject is to study experiences, conceptions and functions of Constantinople. It contributes to the programme’s theme of world-making and languages by looking at literary representations of “one” place across a number of languages, scripts and authorships. The intention is to analyse how Constantinople is represented and valued in vernacular literatures from various languages during fin de siècle and high modernism. 

Around 1900 Constantinople was a multiethnic, multireligious, and multilingual city with a diversity of writing systems, being not only of aesthetic but also of political, ideological, religious and linguistic interest to writers. Its identity was however radically altered in the 1920’s when the new Turkish republic was established.

The project’s period stretches from the late 1880’s to the late 1930’s, focusing on Constantinople as a cosmopolis in the 1910’s and 1920’s, periods characterized by optimism and confidence in the future, but also by decadence, acedia and nostalgia. They cover furthermore the First World War, the Balkan and Greco-Turkish Wars, the traumatic population exchange between Greece and Turkey, the Armenian genocides, and the Kemalist language reform. The study is guided by a cultural semiotic perspective, as presented by Lotman and Even-Zohar, and inspired by translation studies and the notion of untranslatability (Apter), border poetics (Schimanski & Wolfe), narratology, and spatial studies. The material comprises novels, short stories, travelogues, poetry, and literary criticism in English, French, German, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Russian, Greek, and, in translation, Turkish and Armenian.

Research networks: Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul (SRII), Diversity in Nordic Literature (DINO), and Nordic Byzantine Network (NBN).


Research projects