Nation Space Lecture Series: Katja Perat

December 2, 2020
6p CST

Stretching from the Baltic to the Adriatic coast, Winston Churchill’s infamous Iron Curtain is often portrayed as a line on the map, dividing Europe and the World into the Democratic, Developed West, and Autocratic Developing East. Zooming into the cartographic tissue of the Cold War, this talk by Katja Perat, doctoral candidate in comparative literature (Arts & Sciences) at Washington University, will take a look at the Iron Curtain not as a dividing non-entity, but as a territory in its own right, marked by a history of an external as well as internalized division stretching from the Enlightenment and into the future. From Milan Kundera’s The Tragedy of Central Europe in the eighties, to the Central European nationalist tragedy of today, this talk will examine how inhabiting the Iron Curtain has shaped the processes of subject- and nation-building in this invisible borderland.

The event is free, but registration is required. Register here>>

This talk is part of the Nation Space lecture series, presented as part of the fall 2020 graduate seminar Borders, Boundaries, Nations, taught by senior lecturer Michael Allen. The lectures amplify issues within the seminar, which investigates the intersection of the design and maintenance of nations with design practices in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. The seminar examines the history and current state of the nation as a design project, and invites students to speculate on its future in the 21st century. The lectures are enabled by the support of the Sam Fox School's Master of Landscape Architecture program.

About the Speaker

Katja Perat is a doctoral student in comparative literature at Washington University in St. Louis, where she just completed The Divided City Graduate Summer Research Fellowship. For the fellowship, Perat completed research into the tangle of personal identity, racial categorization, and national affinity around post-socialist Yugoslavia, culminating through the project The Divided Village: Segregation in Austrian Carinthia and Peter Handke's Construction of Yugoslavia. Perat’s first novel, The Masochist, debuted in English translation this year. Her book of poetry The Best Have Fallen (Najboljši so padli, 2011) received a best debut award and was picked as book of the year by the Slovenian Literary Critics’ Association. 2014 saw the publication of her second book of poetry, Value-Added Tax (Davek na dodano vrednost), nominated for the Veronika Award for best book of poetry of the year as well as for the Jenko Award given out by the Slovene Writers’ Association.