Literature seminar: „Cultural Identity of Authors and Characters in Migrant Literature"

You are cordially invited to the Faculty’s Literature Seminar, which will be held in English, and will take place on Tuesday, 23April, at 5 pm in Kazimieras Būga Auditorium.

This time our speaker will be the post-doctoral research fellow at the Faculty of History at Vilnius University Dr Sergii GurbychThe topic of his presentation: Cultural Identity of Authors and Characters in Migrant Literature.

The abstract of the presentation

What happens when a migrant author shares the experiences of a migrant character with a reader from another culture? Inevitably, some concepts in the story cannot be directly translated into another language without losing context. Should the context be explained in detail? Should the author seek a concept as close as possible in the reader’s culture? Or, on the contrary, should the reader be left to interpret everything independently to achieve a detachment effect? Each writer resolves these questions themselves. In his presentation, Sergii Gurbych, author of Mother Tongue, Other Tongue: Soviet-born Jewish Writers in Their New Language Environment, discusses how these issues were addressed in the novels by Katja Petrowskaja, Olga Grjaznowa, and Alina Bronski, three contemporary authors who immigrated to Germany from Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Russia.

Biographical note

Dr. Sergii Gurbych is currently engaged in postdoctoral research at the Faculty of History, Vilnius University. He earned his PhD from the Jewish Studies Department at Heidelberg University, focusing on modern Israeli literature. His latest book, Mother Tongue, Other Tongue: Soviet-born Jewish Writers in Their New Language Environment, explores cultural and national identity through the novels of migrant authors who adopted the language of their new countries. Dr. Gurbych’s current research intersects Archival studies, Identity studies, and Digital Humanities, particularly examining the personal identity of Lithuanian Jewish community members during the interwar period



Baltic Student Conference "Bridges in the Baltics": Call for Papers


Real Experience. Inspiring Discoveries. Become Vilnius University Student for a Day


Registration for the traditional event “Student for a Day” at Vilnius University (VU) has begun. This year, VU offers real experiences and inspiring discoveries for high school students and those interested in studying at VU, inviting them to get to know the prominent study programmes.

“Student for a Day” is perfect for those who are curious about what it would be like to study at VU, both for a degree or exchange studies. Participants can choose from many different classes in different fields and disciplines, learn about VU first-hand, broaden their knowledge and can easier decide what to study.

The event participants, together with the current VU students, will have an opportunity to visit lectures in 15 faculties, including Kaunas and Šiauliai. The events will take place both in person and remotely, furthermore, lectures will be organised for international students in English.

The participant who becomes a student for one day will be able not only to get to know VU and its faculties but also to discover new disciplines, enrich their knowledge, and find answers to their questions regarding their choice of studies.

This year, VU ambassadors invite students from other countries to a special remote event in English. In the virtual panel discussion, VU ambassadors from various faculties will share their experiences at VU. They will present university life from application and admission to final exams.

“Student for a Day” events will take place from April 22nd to 26th. More information and registration can be found here.

Professor Johanna Laakso: Understanding How Languages Function, Interact, and Change Is Fundamental to Understanding Humanity and Its Culture



Dr. Johanna Laakso, Professor of Finno-Ugric Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria, visited the Centre for Scandinavian studies through the ERASMUS exchange at the end of February. Professor J. Laakso conducted lectures and seminars on several topics, including the history of Finno-Ugric studies and the relationships between Swedish and Finnish. At the end of her visit, she gave an open lecture with the title “Demistifying the Finno-Ugric languages”. All of the events turned out to be a success: they were followed by large audiences, and they ended up in lively discussions.

We posed Professor J. Laakso a few questions concerning her impressions of Vilnius University (VU) and visions about future contacts between her VU and her home university.

This was your first visit to VU, more precisely the Centre for Scandinavian Studies in the Institute of Languages and Cultures of the Baltic. What were your first impressions about our university and its campus?

The historical buildings are impressive, and at the same time, the campus is full of life. It was wonderful to see how beautifully the historical legacy of the university mixes with the work of vibrant communities of today’s students and scholars. The Centre for Scandinavian Studies reminded me of the first years of my academic career in Helsinki and the small but cosy attic rooms in which the Finno-Ugric department worked. I also felt the same friendly atmosphere of loving commitment which is typical of “small” disciplines worldwide.

How would you define the role of your own fields of expertise in today's world?

Finno-Ugric studies in the traditional sense include historical-comparative approaches to the whole language family and research into the less well-known Finno-Ugric minority languages. Outside Finland, Estonia, and Hungary, these approaches are often overshadowed by practical philological interests in the three Finno-Ugric state languages.

As a Finno-Ugricist, I see my task as maintaining knowledge of the historical background and relatedness of our languages, the history of language diversity and language contacts in Europe and, last but not least the dire state of minority languages and their speakers’ linguistic human rights. Understanding how languages function, interact and change is fundamental importance to understanding of humanity and its culture.


Do you see possibilities for co-operation between the Centre for Scandinavian Studies and your own unit in the University of Vienna in the future?

Definitely, and I would be happy to promote further co-operations. Our department in Vienna is institutionally connected to the Scandinavian Studies (we belong administratively to the same institute), so that bureaucratic obstacles would be minimal. My Viennese colleagues in Scandinavian Studies already have regular connections to Lithuania, and they also have a specific focus on the culture and history of the Baltic Sea region, which is very interesting from the point of view of our teaching of Estonian and Finnish philology.

In addition to my own linguistic interests, I would welcome and gladly support cooperation with my colleagues on issues of minority literatures and multilingualism in literature, a topic on which we are planning to build up a research network. Literary translation is also a topic in which there is a keen interest among our students.

Would you like to mention some highlights of your visit to VU and in the city itself?

First of all, this was an incredibly well-planned and organised ERASMUS visit. My most cordial thanks to Asta Laugalienė, Satu Grünthal and Taina Mylläri for carefully integrating my teaching into their programme, for creating opportunities to meet colleagues and students, and for numerous fruitful and interesting discussions.

This was my first visit ever to Vilnius, and I am still processing a vast amount of experiences and new information about the history of the city. In comparison with Estonia, which I know much better, Lithuania stands clearly closer to the culture of Central Europe, and much of the architecture and historical monuments – not least the numerous Catholic churches – reminded me of my current home city of Vienna. Among many other things, Vilnius is a historical connecting link between my two central research interests, the Finnic and the Hungarian-speaking area. I kept thinking of Catherine Jagiellon, who married the then Duke of Finland in Vilnius in 1562 and then moved to Turku to become the hostess of the closest thing to a renaissance court we ever had in Finland, and of her brother-in-law Stephen (István) Báthory, the king whose realm included Hungarian speakers as well as Estonians and Livonians.

As for further highlights of my visit, let me mention two. First, I saw the opera “Lamb of God”, which brought back so many memories from my student years in the 1980s and my first encounters with the cultures of the Baltic countries struggling under Soviet censorship. And second, scratching the ear of the Užupis Cat. I hope I have become a braver person – and I hope to come back someday, to gather even more courage.

Guest lectures by Annely Tank


We kindly invite you to guest lectures by Annely Tank on April 11th at the Faculty of Philology.

Guest lecturer Annely Tank is an adult educator (MA) by profession. She mixes education, economy, culture and innovation for impact-making projects. She is currently working as Head of Recruitment at the City of Tallinn, focusing on transition to Estonian-language education, by building up a future-facing recruitment and talent retention support for all (future) teachers in Tallinn. She spends a lot of time outdoors, hiking, writing and photographing. 

The lectures will take place on 11 April at 15.00-20.30 in auditorium 314AB as follows:


Estonian economy on a global scale: companies and other organisations are providing several game changing services and products, but what are they about? Why do we need more people who speak more languages? Why should you speak Estonian? How does the ongoing Estonian-language transition change the process? Practical examples. 


Estonian labour market and education: present and future tense. What to study? Why should you combine maths and arts? We also take a closer look at our awesome expats' journeys. 


E-Estonia: what is it about? How to design a great e-service and what happens when it needs to be updated? Disclaimer: not your regular upgrading process. How does one find a fine balance between e-services and people's need for 1:1 communication? What about e-education?

Public lecture by Dr Davide Castiglione: Verbal Images in Literature Database (VILD)


On Wednesday 27 March, 15:00-16:00, A7 (Canada) Room Dr Davide Castiglione will present (in English) a database of verbal images (VILD) that is one of the outcomes of his post-doc project ‘From verbal to mental: images in poetic discourse’ (project No 09.3.3-LMT-K-712-19-0204). This database is an ongoing project and contains manually annotated verbal images from a variety of writers, making it possible to find unique or related images based on both contextual and stylistic information. 

You can also attend the event remotely: you will find the link, as well as additional information, here >>

This event will be of interest to scholars in comparative literature, linguistics, and practicing writers, amongst others. There will also be a chance to collaborate to the project. An article on the database is about to appear in the next issue of the Spectrum magazine. The event is co-organized with the Department of English Philology, English Studies Programme and ARKSI.

Public lecture by Prof. Dr Loreta Vaicekauskienė: Kaip parduodant produktą nuperkama ir kalba?

We invite you to a public lecture by Prof. Dr Loreta Vaicekauskienė who is a candidate for the academic position of Professor at the Faculty of Philology. The title of the lecture: Kaip parduodant produktą nuperkama ir kalba?

The lecture will be delivered in Lithuanian on March 28, 2024, 15:00-16:30, in K. Donelaičio room at the Faculty of Philology.


Prof Antoine Compagnon lecture "Literature and Innovation"

We cordially invite you to a public lecture by Prof Antoine Compagnon Literature and Innovation. The lecture will take place on Thursday, March 18 th, 3 p.m. at Room V. Krėvė.

Annotation. Is “innovation” a suitable, relevant term for speaking about literature? Innovation is a requisite for growth. The term is today inherent to the economy of growth – and it somehow jars with the arts, culture and literature. In companies and business as in macroeconomy, innovation is linked with what the economists call “creative destruction”. In the arts, we would rather keep, preserve, cherish the works of the past. We call this cultural heritage. The digital revolution seems to exacerbate the mismatch between literature and the modern imperative of innovation. Or doesn’t it? Are we in a quandary? This is the conundrum I will explore.

More about Antoine Compagnon


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