Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Vladislav Beronja


Assistant ProfessorPhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Vladislav Beronja

Contact

Interests


Bosnian, Croatian, & Serbian Literature and Visual Arts, Memory & Trauma Studies, Heritage Industry & Exhibition Culture, Balkan Popular Culture, Queer Theory

Biography


 

Vladislav Beronja holds an M.A. in Comparative Literature and a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages & Literatures from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is a co-editor of a volume Post-Yugoslav Constellations: Archive, Memory, and Trauma in Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian Literature and Culture (2016). His current book project examines the preservation and afterlife of socialist heritage in literature and visual art after Yugoslavia's violent dissolution and subsequent transition of its successor states to neoliberal capitalism. 

Courses


REE 381 • Smnr Rus/E Eur/Eurasn Civ/Cul

44600 • Fall 2017
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM CMA 3.108

This is the introductory seminar to Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies.  It consists of a series of guest lectures by a   diverse cast of CREEES faculty in order to give the students as  broad an overview of the field as possible.

Prerequisites: graduate standing. 

Readings:  Distributed by visiting lecturers a week before each lecture

Grading:   Participation:             10%

              Oral presentation:       40%

               Final research paper:  50%

S C 506 • First-Year Bos/Croat/Serb I

45020 • Fall 2017
Meets MW 12:00PM-1:00PM BUR 128

The goal of this course is to develop basic competency in speaking, reading, and writing skills in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, the main languages of the former Yugoslavia. By the end of the class, you will be able to engage in basic conversation and navigate practical, everyday contexts in BCS. The materials for the course will be drawn from authentic sources, such as comics, folk and pop songs, newspapers, blogs, websites, poems, and children’s books. Finally, this course will also serve as a basic introduction to the geography, peoples, and cultures of Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia and neighboring countries. 

While the primary language of instruction is Croatian, the students will be provided with materials in all three language variants, and can therefore use the variant of their own choice.  

 

REE 302 • War In Comics/Photo: Se Eur

44602 • Spring 2017
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM GEA 127
(also listed as EUS 307, WGS 301)

Thanks to the Internet and 24-hour news networks, wars in seemingly distant places have become more visible and proximate to us. Yet very often the images, videos, and news stories through which we encounter wartime violence come to us in fragmented, decontextualized, and overly simplified form. Instead of fostering empathy with civilian victims and nuanced understanding of political events, they aim for basic shock effect that frequently leaves us feeling numb or anxious.

In this class we will examine different ways to show and tell stories of armed conflict and state-sponsored violence, drawing on a variety of modern media forms— such as comics, cinema, novels, and photography—as well as contemporary digital platforms, including social media. The 1990s conflicts in the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia) will serve as our main case study, but our reading materials and class discussions will inevitably invite comparisons to ongoing wars and attendant refugee crises.

  

Learning Objectives:

In this class, students will learn how to critically analyze images and stories of armed conflict and other forms of state-sponsored violence. They will be introduced to the history of the wars in the former Yugoslavia through perspectives of outside observers, participants in the conflict, as well as native informants; they will be encouraged to make meaningful comparisons to more contemporary examples of armed conflict; and they will be asked to question their own role as  consumers of news and media related to contemporary warfare. The seminar engages questions related to the effects of various artistic and documentary forms in representations of war atrocities, their channels of circulation (including social media), as well as their relationship to other media, both new and old.

 

Grading:

10%-class participation and attendance

15%-bi-weekly discussion post (300 words or more)

25%-midterm essay (6 pages)/multimedia project

5%-abstract and outline of longer essay/multimedia project

10%-class presentation

35%-one longer analytical essay (8-9 pages) or multimedia project

 

Readings:

Hillary Chute, Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form, Harvard UP, 2016

Joe Sacco, The Fixer and Other Stories, Drawn & Quarterly, 2009

Joe Sacco, Footnotes in Gaza, Jonathan Cape, 2009

Aleksandar Zograf, Regards from Serbia, Top Shelf Productions, 2007

Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, Picador, 2003

Judith Butler, Frames of War: When is Life Grievable?, Verso, 2009 (excerpts)

Nina Bunjevac, Fatherland, Liveright, 2015

Dubravka Ugrešić, The Museum of Unconditional Surrender, New Directions, 2001

Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project, Riverhead Books, 2008

 

Films:

Before the Rain (dir. Milcho Manchevsky), 1995

Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams (dir. Jasmila Žbanić), 2007

In the Land of Blood and Honey, (dir. Angelina Jolie), 2011

REE 325 • Punks/Divas In Se Europe

44610 • Spring 2017
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM GEA 127
(also listed as EUS 347, WGS 345)

“What kind of music do you listen to?” can be a loaded question. Based on your taste in music, others will invariably place you in a specific (sub)culture, class, lifestyle, and even speculate about your political commitments. Your taste in music can make or break a friendship, produce feelings of camaraderie as well as of repulsion.

For some time now, scholars have viewed popular music as a dynamic cultural field, where various social meanings—attached to race, nationality, gender, and sexuality—are constantly being produced, contested, and negotiated among different communities of listeners.

This insight into music as crucial site of political struggle and collective identity formation will be the starting point in our analysis of popular music genres in the Balkans, a region of Europe that has undergone sweeping historical changes in the 20th and 21st centuries, including the fall of Communism and—in the case of former Yugoslavia—the formation of seven new nation-states through a series of bloody and brutal wars. We will begin the class by examining the emergence of Western pop genres, such as punk and new wave rock, in late socialism (in the 1980s), which became associated with urban youth subcultures, sophisticated irony, and liberalization of the one-party state.  From there, we will move to the analysis of “turbo-folk,” a curious mixture of contemporary electronic and traditional folk music that became extremely popular in the 1990s, when the conflict in Yugoslavia was at its peak. Featuring extravagant and scandalous Balkan divas, roughly equivalent to Rihanna and Lady Gaga in the U.S., turbo-folk was (and still is) connected with nationalism, the new mafia elite, and general cultural decline. We will watch videos, examine arguments for and against turbo-folk, and try to pin down its political functions, cultural meanings, and recent transformations. We will end the class by examining new trends in Balkan popular music, such hip-hop and Balkan brass, and their relationship to recent protest movements, minority politics, and claims of cultural (in)authenticity.

In addition to scholarly literature, we will make a substantial use of a class Tumblr blog, featuring music videos, song lyrics, links to other blogs, album covers and other visual and audio materials, which will allow us to fully immerse ourselves in different sounds, scenes, fashion styles, and communities we will be studying throughout this course.

 

Learning Objectives:

By examining the changes in the production and consumption of popular music in the Balkans, students will gain an understanding of larger historical shifts both in the region and on a more global scale. Additionally, students will refine their analytical and critical thinking skills by situating cultural objects in a dynamic historical and political context and by reflecting on the social effects and assumptions surrounding the consumption of popular music more generally. Our discussion of Balkan popular music will be guided by the following questions:

  • How does popular music shape collective identities?
  • What is the role of popular music in large-scale social and political transformation?
  • How is popular music used as medium of political mobilization by the state and civil actors?
  • How do musical tastes produce, reflect, and reinforce social differences and hierarchies?
  • Why are claims of cultural authenticity often attached to popular music? Who makes these claims and why?
  • How do different music genres function in different political and cultural contexts?

 

Readings:

Readings in the course pack include selections from:

Simon Frith (ed.), Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music, (Harvard UP, 1998).

Jennifer C. Lena, Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music (Princeton UP, 2012).

Sabrina P. Ramet, Social Currents in Eastern Europe (Duke UP, 1995).

Eric Gordy, The Culture of Power in Serbia (The Pennsylvania State UP, 2001).

Catherine Baker, Sounds of the Borderland: Popular Music, War and Nationalism in Croatia since 1991 (Ashgate, 2010).

Carol Silverman, Romani Routes: Cultural Politics and Balkan Music in Diaspora (Oxford UP, 2012).

Marina Terkoufari (ed.), The Languages of Global Hip Hop (Continuum, 2012)

 

Grading:

10%-class participation and attendance

10% map quiz of the Balkan countries/major historical events

25%-weekly discussion post (250 words or more)

25%-take-home midterm exam (short essay format)

5%-abstract and outline of long essay

25%-one long essay (8-9 pages) or multimedia project

Curriculum Vitae


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