Angelina Ilieva

Instructional Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Foster 411
Office Hours: By Appointment
Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2005.
Teaching at UChicago since 2006
Research Interests: National identity, gender, magic realism, folklore, emigration, narrative theory

"I am interested in the role of trauma and sublimity in the emotional power of national or other identities."


My general interests include performativity, representation, and identity; the ethics of art, the political dimension of esthetic experience. Most specifically, I am interested in the role of trauma and sublimity in the emotional power of national or other identities.

Work with Students

I have advised thesis and research projects on Southeastern Europe- from national identity history narratives and self-representations in political writings to representations of gender performance in literature, creative performance project based on folklore, to comparative analysis of narrative plotting of death in magic realist writings.


  • "Identity Narratives Unraveled: the Bulgarian Film Mission London,” Judith Deutsch Kornblatt, ed. American Contributions to the 16th International Congress of Slavists, Belgrade, 2018. v. 2; Literature. Bloomington, IN: Slavica, (2018): 103-119.
  • “Returning the Gaze in Milcho Manchevski’s Before the Rain,” Balkanistica 29 (2016): 99-121.

Recent Courses

  • ​​​​​Strangers to Ourselves: Émigré Literature and Film
  • States of Surveillance
  • The Shadows of Living Things: The Writings of Mikhail Bulgakov
  • The Burden of History: The Nation and Its Lost Paradise
  • Balkan Folklore
  • Imaginary Worlds: the Fantastic and Magic Realism in Russia and South Eastern Europe
  • Returning the Gaze: the Balkans, the West, and the Rest
  • Poetics of Gender in the Balkans: Wounded Men, Sworn Virgins, Eternal Mothers
  • The Brighter Side of the Balkans: Humor and Satire in Literature and Film
  • Nation and Narration in Southeastern Europe
  • All levels of Bulgarian Language

Current Courses

REES 29013 /39013 The Burden of History: A Nation and Its Lost Paradise

(CMLT 23401 / CMLT 33401 / HIST 24005 / HIST 34005 / NEHC 20573 / NEHC 30573)

What makes it possible for the imagined communities called nations to command the emotional attachments that they do?  This course considers some possible answers to Benedict Anderson’s question on the basis of material from the Balkans. We will examine the transformation of the scenario of paradise, loss, and redemption into a template for a national identity narrative through which South East European nations retell their Ottoman past.  With the help of Žižek’s theory of the subject as constituted by trauma and Kant’s notion of the sublime, we will contemplate the national fixation on the trauma of loss and the dynamic between victimhood and sublimity.

2020-2021 Autumn
Literature and Linguistics

REES 29024 /39024 States of Surveilance

(CMLT 29024 / CMLT 39024)

What does it feel to be watched and listened to all the time? Literary and cinematic works give us a glimpse into the experience of living under surveillance and explore the human effects of surveillance--the fraying of intimacy, fracturing sense of self, testing the limits of what it means to be human. Works from the former Soviet Union (Solzhenitsyn, Abram Tertz, Andrey Zvyagintsev), former Yugoslavia (Ivo Andrić, Danilo Kiš, Dušan Kovačević), Romania (Norman Manea, Cristian Mungiu), Bulgaria (Valeri Petrov), and Albania (Ismail Kadare).

2020-2021 Autumn
Literature and Linguistics