Valeria Tsygankova

B.A. English, summa cum laude, University of Pennsylvania (2011), M.A. History of the Book, Institute of English Studies, University of London (2012), M.A. English, Columbia (2013), M.Phil. English, Columbia (2015). Valeria Tsygankova’s research pays attention to nineteenth-century American authors who grappled with what it would mean to make a substantial break with racial slavery before and through the U.S. Civil War. Valeria uncovers four major figures deployed in imagining such a change – the transmutation, the parallel, the projection, and the harvest. Her archive of small-r “reconstruction literature” includes the pottery-poetry of enslaved potter David Drake, the writing of transnational forms of bondage and reconstruction in the US, Russia, and Jamaica by Nancy Prince, and the work of Frederick Douglass and Emily Dickinson, who recorded the hopes and disappointments of reconstruction in real time from the antebellum to the postwar period. Valeria’s writing excavates these thinkers’ articulations of the means and possibilities of making change as a precarious, protracted process, dependent on ongoing, imaginative, collective work.

Academic Interests: 

Nineteenth-century American literature and philosophy, African-American literature, literature & slavery, theories of personhood, materialisms, theories of temporality & reform.