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Indiana University Bloomington
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Bronislava Volková

Professor Emerita of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Adjunct Professor of Comparative Literature and Jewish Studies

I am interested in a wide variety of topics, such as Czech poetry, Central European Jewish literature, Czech popular culture, issues of exile, gender, race, nationalism, prejudice and emotive signs. I am an exile poet and scholar from Czechoslovakia. I have published a number of books of existential and metaphysical poetry in Czech and English, two books on linguistic and literary semiotics, and most recently Up The Devil’s Back: A Bilingual Anthology of 20th-Century Czech Poetry (with Clarice Cloutier, 2008) and A pit budem ze studni lahodnych (in Czech). In the area of semiotics, my work concerns emotive language, the difference between emotivity, expressivity, intensification and value; typology of functions of repetition; degrees of emphasis in Russian, Czech and Spanish syntax; semiotic interpretation of diminutives, augmentatives and other derived nouns in Russian and Czech, including their word-formational, lexicological and contextual aspects. My literary semiotic work focuses on emotive signs in poetry, exile, issues of sexual relationships, responsibility, guilt, innocence, racism, nationalism, euro-centrism, relationship between private and public sphere, escape and vision, death and other emotive and value issues and their expression in the works of major Czech writers like, Mácha, Kundera, Nemcová, Capek, Hašek, Vaculík, Hrabal, Havel and others. Between the years 1976 and 1992, my western publications appeared under the name "Volek". Since 2000, I am also active as a visual artist and a director of multimedia performances of poetry. At IU, I served as Director of the Czech Program for 30 years, organizing an annual Czech film series, and teaching classes on Czech language, Czech and comparative literature and on the theory of the Prague School of Linguistics and Poetics. In recent years I have been teaching a course on Central European Jewish Writers and Exile entitled "The Wandering Jew.". In 2009, I received an "award for significant contribution to culture and scholarship" from the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences in Prague. My current work includes an autobiographical project titled "Identity: Travel through History, Nation, Religion, Art and Self."

Areas of Interest

  • Semiotics
  • Emotive Language
  • Czech and Central European Literature
  • Poetry
  • Exile