Graduate program in Ukrainian folklore completes successful academic year

EDMONTON - The graduate student program in Ukrainian folklore at the University of Alberta completed another year of its popular lunch-and-seminar series. Begun in 2004-2005 on the initiative of Natalie Kononenko, Kule Chair of Ukrainian Ethnography, the series allows students and faculty to share their research.

This year Vincent Rees spoke about his research for his master's thesis. He is examining dance groups in Ukraine and how they modified folklore for the stage. He is also looking at the influence of staged folklore on Ukrainian Canadians.

Mariya Lesiv also spoke about the work that she did for her master's thesis. She discussed pysanka writing in Canada and classified pysanka art into categories that range from the traditional to the individualistic.

Katherine Bily spoke about pregnancy beliefs, looking at traditional beliefs and beliefs in Canada. Svitlana Kukharenko spoke about animal magic. In the summer of 2005, she collected beliefs about animals and the taboos associated with their care. She presented her research at the University of Alberta and also at the national meeting of the American Folklore Society.

Roman Shiyan talked about Ukrainian Kozaks. Stories about the Kozaks were collected by historians, folklorists, philologists and others. Mr. Shiyan showed how collector interests and biases are reflected in their work.

Andriy Chernevych, who has been working with the Local Culture Project, a monumental interview effort conducted by the Ukrainian Folklore Center and its French, German and English partners, reported that he is planning to use narratives found in this collection for his dissertation.

Another event connected to the Local Culture Project was the debut of a film based on the collection. Andriy Nahachewsky, the principle investigator on the project, introduced the film and explained the work behind it.

Prof. Kononenko presented her work with traditional religious stories that she collected in Ukraine, showing how these narratives both reflect the growing interest in religion and help resolve changes in social roles that came with Ukrainian independence.

Because technological issues are important to folklore documentation and preservation, several sessions were dedicated to equipment. The group enjoyed a hands-on demonstration of a high-quality video camera purchased by the center and Peter Holloway's discussion of modeling techniques that create three-dimensional virtual replicas of folk houses and village churches.

Mr. Holloway also demonstrated the new sound file database which is available on the Ukrainian Traditional Folklore website, This database was developed with the help of Yue Zhang of TAPoR, the Text Access Portal for Research, and Ms. Kukharenko.

The lunch/seminar series had a number of special visitors. Sogu Hong, who received his Ph.D. last year, returned to talk about the Ukrainian studies program that he is launching in Korea.

Oleksandra Britsyna of the Folklore Institute in Kyiv spoke about her research in Ukrainian narrative. Oksana Lutsko came from Lviv to use the Bohdan Medwidsky Ukrainian Folklore Archives and offered the group a Ukrainian perspective on Ukrainian Canadian song.

Mykhailo Koval, a kobzar from a village in Ukraine, sang songs and answered questions about his artistry and about his efforts to preserve Ukrainian traditions. Another bandura-related event was Andrij Horniatkevych's presentation of Zinovyi Shtokalko's recordings to the archive. Mr. Horniatkevych provided biographical information of Shtokalko, whom he knew personally, and discussed his artistry.

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, June 18, 2006, No. 25, Vol. LXXIV

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