Closure of Conference project. Post-Conference Plans

Many many thanks to everyone who participated in the conference, to all those who presented papers, read their poetry or translations, contributed to discussions or just came to listen.

This blog will remain open as a record of the conference proceedings and will continue to include the programme, the abstracts of the presentations and the short biographies of the participants.

We have removed the conference papers from this site because we intend to include revised versions in a post-conference book. This book will not be a representation of the conference proceedings as such, however, but a volume of articles roughly reflecting the structure of the conference. The book will be edited by Ursula Philips, supported by a team of advisers (Urszula Chowaniec, Knut Andreas Grimstad, Kris Van Heuckelom and Elwira Grossman). It is expected that the volume will appear in 2013.

Should anyone wish to contact the authors of papers or read the original papers, please contact the conference organizer.

Monday, November 07, 2011




Evening event 9 November 5.30 -8.30 pm


Venue: UCL Institute of Archaeology Lecture Theatre, 31-34 Gordon Square
London WC1H 0PY
5.30-7.15 pm,  followed by Drinks Reception in the Masaryk Room, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, 16 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW

Cynthia Haven (Stanford University): Miłosz: The Moment After Death
Mindaugas Kvietkauskas (Lithuanian Institute of Literature and Folklore, Vilnius): Poet as Mediator: Miłosz and Local Memory
Mira Rosenthal (Stanford University): Czesław Miłosz as a Translator of Contemporary Poetry
Richard Reisner: The World of Czesław Miłosz. Bombus Terrestris in the Authorial Honeycomb of Translators and Translated
George Gömöri (formerly University of Cambridge): The Captive Mind 60 Years Later [TO BE READ IN HIS ABSENCE]

Chair: Robin Aizlewood, Director UCL SSEES

MAIN CONFERENCE 10-11 November
Venue: Rooms 431-433, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, 16 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW

9.00 – 9.30am: REGISTRATION

9.30-11.00 am:
Introductory remarks: Ursula Phillips (UCL SSEES)

Hanna Gosk (University of Warsaw): Notions of “Homeland” in Recent Polish Prose (twenty years after the country regained sovereignty)
Jerzy Jarzębski (Jagiellonian University, Kraków): The Conflict of Generations in Contemporary Prose
Urszula Chowaniec (University of Tampere/ Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski University, Kraków): The Ruined Bodies of Travellers and Foreigners in Contemporary Polish Women’s Writing (Mapping Melancholy as a Revolutionary Gesture)
Discussant: John Bates (University of Glasgow)
Chair: Ursula Phillips
11.00 am Coffee

11.30am – 1.00 pm:
Błażej Warkocki (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań): Strategies of Gay Male Emancipation in Polish Prose Since 1989
Dirk Uffelmann (University of Passau): Wrong Sex and the City: Polish Migration and Masculinity
Monika Świerkosz (Jagiellonian University, Kraków): Marianna in the House of Bluebeard: Tropes of Female Authorship in Izabela Filipiak’s Absolute Amnesia.

Discussant: Roberto Kulpa (Birkbeck)
Chair: Tuesday Bhambry (UCL SSEES)

1.00-2.00 pm LUNCH

2.00-3.30 pm:
Joanna Michlic (Brandeis University): Into the Well of Memory: Michał Głowiński’s Jewish Childhood during the Holocaust
Knut Andreas Grimstad (University of Oslo): Revisiting the Other Side: Mnemonic Strategies in Piotr Paziński’s The Boarding House
Katarzyna Zechenter (UCL SSEES): “Matka Żydówka”: Jewish Women and Memory
Paul Vickers (University of Glasgow): Constructing the Memory of a Polish Jewish Community in Tadeusz Słobodzianek’s Nasza klasa/Our Class (2008/2009)

Discussant: Izabela Filipiak (University of Gdańsk)
Chair: François Guesnet (UCL Dept of Hebrew and Jewish Studies)

3.30-4.00 pm Coffee

4.00-5.30 pm:
Agnieszka Mrozik (Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences): Women’s Archives – Storage Pantries: Identity Politics in Women’s (Auto)biographies After 1989
Kris van Heuckelom (Catholic University of Leuven): Itinerant (Wo)Men: Migration and Inter-Ethnic Coupling in Recent Polish Prose
Uilleam Blacker (Memory at War Project, University of Cambridge): Recovering the Memories of Lost Others in Contemporary Polish Literature

Chair: Katarzyna Zechenter (UCL SSEES)


9.30-11.00 am:
Grzegorz Niziołek (Jagiellonian University, Kraków): Ressentiment as Experiment: Polish Theatre and Drama After 1989
Bryce Salisbury Lease (University of Exeter): Hidden in the Theatre? The New Archive of Queer Performance Activism
Elwira Grossman (University of Glasgow): Transnational or Bi-Cultural? Challenges in Reading Post-1989 Drama Written ‘Outside the Nation’

Discussant: Paul Allain (University of Kent) 
Chair: Paul Vickers (Glasgow)

11.00-11.30 am Coffee

11.30-1.00 pm:
Catherine Grosvenor: Translating the Moment: Experiences of Translating Contemporary Polish Theatre
Antonia Lloyd-Jones: Translating Children’s Books
Bill Johnston (Indiana University): The Peasants are Revolting, or Szymek from the Village and Joe from Missouri: Problems of Voice in Translating Wiesław Myśliwski’s Stone upon Stone
Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese (University of Copenhagen): Rewritten Poems and Anthologized Presences: A Sequel

Discussant: Knut Andreas Grimstad (Oslo)
Chair: Dorota Hołowiak (UCL SSEES) 

1.00-2.00 pm LUNCH

2.00-2.45 pm:
Izabela Filipiak in discussion with Ursula Phillips and Urszula Chowaniec – about her own work and on recent writing by women

2.45-5.00 pm [break for coffee 3.45-4.00 pm]
Presentation of developments in recent Polish poetry accompanied by readings:
Marek Kazmierski:  Polish Poetry Since1989 – A Brief Reconnaissance
Wioletta Grzegorzewska: Looking for Real Poetry with Czesław Miłosz [followed by readings; translations by Marek Kazmierski]
David Malcolm (University of Gdańsk): Memory and Diction in Jerzy Jarniewicz's Poetry
Katarzyna Zechenter: Readings from her W cieniu drzewa (2011) [translations by Bogdana Carpenter]
Translators - Richard Reisner, Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese, Bill Johnston, Mira Rosenthal, Antonia Lloyd-Jones: readings selected from their own translations of Ewa Lipska; Marcin Świetlicki, Marzanna Kielar, Wojciech Bonowicz, Krystyna Miłobędzka; Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn Dycki; Tomasz Różycki; Tadeusz Dąbrowski and Jacek Dehnel)

Chair: Ursula Phillips

Chair: Elwira Grossman (University of Glasgow) 

Ursula Phillips, 7 November 2011

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Urszula Chowaniec

Urszula Chowaniec is a specialist in Polish Literature and language. She is an editor of the online cultural journal Women’s Writing Online ( She gained her PhD in literary studies at the Jagiellonian University in 2004 and is the author of In Search of Woman: On the Early Novels of Irena Krzywicka (W poszukiwaniu kobiety. O wczesnych powieściach Ireny Krzywickiej, 2007). She co-edited Mapping Experience in Polish and Russian Women’s Writing (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010), and Masquerade and Femininity: Essays on Polish and Russian Women Writers (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2008). She has published articles and book chapters on women’s writing, literary theory and literary and cultural history (e.g. in Gender and Sexuality in Ethical Context: Ten Essays on Polish Prose, edited by Knut Andreas Grimstad and Ursula Phillips, Slavica Bergensia 5, 2005). She is currently working on a book as part of her research undertaken at the University of Tampere on Polish women’s writing within the perspective of body theory and the notion of nomadism. Email:

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Richard Reisner

The World of Czesław Miłosz: Bombus Terrestris in the Authorial Honeycomb of Translators and Translated

This paper proposes that Czesław Miłosz in his numerous literary guises epitomises the cross-pollinatory nature of the creative literary process where texts are generated polytemporaneously in the authorial process of readers and writers.  One such illustration, his early war-time cycle The World, can be shown to demonstrate the generative nature of literary creation in the intertextual plane, translation being a prime vehicle in the cross-pollination of the initial text, known as the original. 
In this regard one poem from Miłosz’s cycle ‘The World’ will be taken as an illustration, where two English versions are discussed in terms of the roles of readers and writers in the authorial process across time. In this particular context, Miłosz as both author/translated and author/translator plays a vital role in exemplifying the making of authorial progression and the related creativity of the translation text in the formative process of literature.
It is therefore argued that Czesław Miłosz, working across a number of literary genres as well as assuming a number of various guises in the course of being reader and writer, serves as a good illustration of the making of the author and the attendant creative tensions between readers and writers.  It is therefore both as translator and translated that one of Poland’s most influential literary figures in the recent past has underscored the authorial presence of translation in the re-generation of literature.

Richard Reisner

Ryszard J. Reisner is a translator and researcher of Polish literature who has published on the role of the translation process in literature and has taught translation at a number of universities, including The University of Warsaw.  He has also completed bilingual publications and readings including The City of Home (an English-Polish anthology of Australian poetry with co-editor Thomas Shapcott), The Holy Order of Tourists by Ewa Lipska and The Seasons by Dariusz Pacak, English versions for the theatre, such as Stefan Mrowiński’s The World of Monodrama, as well as contributions to Six Polish Poets, edited by Jacek Dehnel, and Contemporary Writers of Poland, edited by Danuta Blaszak.  He collaborated with Father Jan Twardowski on a representative selection of his work that included his first volume of 1937. He has also translated poems by Zbigniew Herbert as well as the cycle Świat. Poema naiwne (The World) by Czesław Miłosz. As part of a multi-lingual project in Vienna, he had also completed translations of Marek Grechuta’s interpretations (and musical settings) of well-known painters Obrazy śpiewane.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

David Malcolm, University of Gdańsk

Memory and Diction in Jerzy Jarniewicz’s Poetry
Jerzy Jarniewicz is a widely-published and highly-regarded poet, translator, and literary scholar. He has published nine volumes of verse since the early 1990s, his best-known collections being Niepoznaki (2000), Dowód z tożsamości (2003), Oranżada (2005), and Makijaż (2009). This paper examines the degree to which Jarniewicz’s work departs from the major concerns and technical features of pre-1989 poetry. Motifs of isolation, paralysis, and passing time (and impotence in the face of transience) will be considered, as will the poet’s deployment of blank verse and informal language. Special attention will be given, however, to the author’s determination to resist the effacing of a world (largely a pre-1989 world) both physically and in memory. Jarniewicz will be discussed – as he discusses Seamus Heaney – as a poet “pomiędzy,” that is “between” times and worlds.

David Malcolm, University of Gdańsk

David Malcolm is Professor of English Literature and Chair of the Department of Literary Studies in the English Institute at the University of Gdańsk. He is also Vice-Director of the English Institute. He is co-author (with Cheryl Alexander Malcolm) of Jean Rhys: A Study of the Short Fiction (Twayne, 1996), and author of Understanding Ian McEwan (2002), Understanding Graham Swift (2003) and Understanding John McGahern (2007, all University of South Carolina Press). He is co-editor of The British and Irish Short Story, 1945-2000, volume 319 of the Dictionary of Literary Biography (Thomson-Gale, 2006). The Blackwell Companion to the British and Irish Short Story, which he edited with Cheryl Alexander Malcolm, was published in autumn 2008. He has also co-edited collections of essays on Ronald Firbank, Sylvia Townsend Warner and T.H. White (Mellen 2004, 2006 and 2008). The Blackwell Handbook to the British and Irish Short Story is due for publication in February 2012. His translations of Polish and German poetry and prose have been published in Britain, the USA, Poland and Austria. He writes reviews for the Times Literary Supplement

David is also co-organizer of BACK 2: An International Literary Festival/Conference; the second BACK 2 festival/conference was held in Sopot, Poland, in May 2011.

Bryce Lease, University of Exeter

Bryce Lease joined the Drama Department at the University of Exeter in 2010, having lectured previously at the University of Bristol. In 2009, he completed his PhD Fantasy or Symptom? The Political in Polish Theatre at the University of Kent, where he worked with the European Theatre Research Network (ETRN). Bryce is currently completing a monograph entitled Breaking the Covenant: The New Left in Polish Theatre. His main areas of research concern the intersections between political, feminist and queer theory and contemporary European performance practice. Memberships include the Irish Society for Theatre Research (ISTR), Performance Studies international (PSi), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Theaterwissenschaft, Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA), and he is a founding member of the Queer Studies Working Group within the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR). Recent publications have appeared in The Drama Review, The International Journal of Žižek Studies and Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance.    

Ursula Phillips

Ursula is a translator of both literary and academic works and a writer on Polish literature. Her research focuses on Polish women writers, especially of the 19th and early 20th centuries, but also contemporary. Her book on Narcyza Żmichowska Feminizm i religia was published in Poland in 2008. She was a contributor to and editor (with Knut Andreas Grimstad) of Gender and Sexuality in Ethical Context (2005); (with Urszula Chowaniec and Marja Rytkönen) of Masquerade and Femininity: Essays on Russian and Polish Women Writers (2008) and (with Urszula Chowaniec, Marja Rytkönen and Kirsi Kurkijärvi) of Mapping Experience in Polish and Russian Women’s Writing (2010). In November 2008 she organized (with Urszula Chowaniec) the seminar Poland Under Feminist Eyes—held at UCL SSEES and supported by CEELBAS and by the Polish Cultural Institute, London; the seminar resulted in the establishment of the online journal WomensWritingOnLine.
Her most recent translation is the book Humanism in Polish Culture, edited by Alina Nowicka-Jeżowa, Wiesław Pawlak and Piotr Urbański (Peter Lang, 2011) which was one of the outcomes of the major research project (2007-2011) Humanizm. Idee, nurty i paradygmaty humanistyczne w kulturze polskiej. She is currently working on translations of works by Narcyza Żmichowska, Zofia Nałkowska, Izabela Filipiak and Agnieszka Taborska.
Ursula is an Honorary Research Associate of UCL SSEES. Her association with SSEES stretches back many years—from June 1988 until July 2003 she worked in the SSEES Library as Area Specialist for the Former Soviet Union and Poland.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bryce Lease, University of Exeter

Hidden in the Theatre? The New Archive of Queer Performance Activism
Though homosexuality was decriminalized in Poland in 1932, the resurgence in Catholicism and moral conservatism in the country that accompanied neoliberalism after 1989 meant that gays and lesbians have had to negotiate complicated relations with right-wing fundamentalist groups. Joining the European Union caused conservative politicians to modify or adjust openly homophobic public discourse, but gay couples are still not permitted to adopt and civil partnerships have not been legalized. A ban on hate speech against gays only began the process of formalization in May 2011. Combining recent queer theory with an analysis of the critical reception of relevant performances primarily in Warsaw between 2001-2007, this paper briefly outlines the politics of gay and queer activism in the country alongside theatre performances and gay-rights campaigns, such as the Campaign against Homophobia, in order to illustrate a change in public perceptions of homosexuality after EU ascension (2004) and the election of the conservative coalition (2005). I argue that the recent history of pride parades gives us an insight into a developing transformation in public perception of homosexuality. Although pride parades were banned in Warsaw in 2004/5 by the then mayor of Warsaw, and later President of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, Warsaw became the first post-communist country to host the Europride parade in 2010. I will also consider a shift in queer studies elaborated by Robert Kulpa and Joanna Mizielińska’s De-Centering Western Sexualities: Central and Eastern European Perspectives (2011), which crucially points out that over the past decade this field has refocused its politics in relation to geolocation, critiquing modern scholarly divisions that position the West as civilized, secular, liberal and pro-gay and the East as primitive, religious, fanatical and universally homophobic. Aligning myself with this scholarship, I will analyze key performances that premiered over the past decade which dealt with Polish homophobia, depicted gay or deliberately non-normative relationships and contemplated Polish queer futures. These include some initial plays that touch on gay relationships, such as Ingmar Villqist’s Anaerobes (2001) and Bartosz Żurawiecki’s Sekstet (2005). A longer treatment of the relationship between urban and rural spaces and their impact on sexuality will be discussed alongside Przemysław Wojcieszek’s Cokolwiek się zdarzy, kocham cię (Whatever happens, I love you… 2005), Wojcieszek’s Darkroom (2006), Marek Modzelewski’s Dotyku (Touch 2005, dir. Małgorzata Bogajewska), and Wiktor Rubin and Bartosz Frąckowiak’s Terrordrom Breslau (2006, dir. Wiktor Rubin). A discussion of the impact of HIV/AIDS in Poland will be contextualized in conjunction with Maciej Kowalewski’s Miss HIV (2005) and Tony Kushner’s Anioły w Ameryce (Angels in America 2007, dir. Krzysztof Warlikowski). With specific focus on the latter, I will show how the production was in sympathetic dialogue with, and later considered a significant component of, the ‘rainbow revolution’, a manifestation of Polish gays who protested against conservative Catholic groups. Tomasz Milowski (2007) writes disparagingly about the homophobia and hatred generated by the builders of the Fourth Republic and the ‘yoke of socially and historically embedded resentment’ in Polish society that cannot simply be reduced to a fear of AIDS. Warlikowski expertly collides black humor with irony, fantasy and absurdism in his critique of modern sexual relationships. Piotr Schmidt (2007) isolates Warlikowsi’s performance, the most personal to date, as the bravest attempt to regulate the steep escalation of hatred against gays, and has been more stringent in its broader cultural influence than a parade, campaign or anti-homophobia organization.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Registration now available

Registration for the conference is now available.
There is no charge for the event but it is essential to register as space is limited. It is also essential to register for the two parts of the event separately (you may wish to attend only the Milosz evening or only the conference, or both). You may register via the UCL SSEES website or directly via

Speakers and other participants already in the programme are already included and therefore do not need to register via eventbrite

Mindaugas Kvietkauskas

Mindaugas Kvietkauskas (b. 1976) is a Lithuanian literary critic and translator. Since 2008 he is a director of the Lithuanian Literature and Folklore Institute, the major research institution for literature in Lithuania. Kvietkauskas was awarded Ph.D. at Vilnius University for his doctoral thesis The Multinational Literary Modernism in Vilnius 1904-1915, a comparative examination of Polish, Yiddish, Lithuanian, Russian and Belarusian urban texts (published in 2007). His research interests include urban literature and Jewish studies, which he pursued at the University of Oxford, Centre for Hebrew and Judaic Studies (2002-2003). In 2011, together with professor Viktorija Daujotytė Kvietkauskas, he published a study The Lithuanian Contexts of Czeslaw Milosz, and was one of the main organizers of the Miłosz anniversary events in Lithuania. A collection of critical essays ­The Post-Soviet Turn in Lithuanian Literature edited by Kvietkauskas will be published by Rodopi Publishers in Amsterdam this year. Kvietkauskas has translated the poetry and essays of Adam Mickiewicz, Czeslaw Milosz, Wislawa Szymborska, and Abraham Sutzkever.

Mindaugas Kvietkauskas (Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore, Vilnius)

Poet as Mediator: Milosz and Local Memory

Czeslaw Milosz perceived the loss of local belonging, displacement and uprootedness as one of the crucial problems and experiences of a modern individual. He many times underlined his own attachment to the obscure and far-away native provinces, his lost places of origin as a necessary cure to the futility of modern imagination, and stated that the full emancipation of an individual from the concrete place leads to artistic and intellectual mimicry (The Roadside Dog). However, the symbolic return to the sense of place is a very complicated act for a modern self, especially in the situation of exile, and in Milosz‘s texts this effort turned into constant search for a specific formula of mediation between the individual identity and the identity of place. In his own biography and writing the problem of return to a concrete locality was largely connected with the ongoing attempts to revisit his native country – first in literary work, especially in the famous novel The Issa Valley and the long poems City Without a Name and The Rising of the Sun; after 1990, in the late period of life, Milosz’s return to Lithuania also took place in reality, resulting in late poetical cycles and essays about the experience of re-entering ones original place. These texts attest to the specific understanding of poets or narrators position: the dialogical mediation between his own personal memory and the deeply perceived personality of the place. Because of that attitude, in twentieth-century European poetry Milosz imparted original meaning to the concept of human geography that is increasingly important for the humanities at present.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

George Gömöri

George Gömöri was born in 1934 in Hungary. He has been living in England since 1956, first in Oxford, then in Birmingham, Cambridge and now in London. Between 1969 and 2001 he taught Polish and Hungarian at the University of Cambridge where he is Emeritus Fellow of Darwin College. He has published many books on Polish and Hungarian literature, including the essay collection Magnetic Poles (2000). His recent publications include an essay on Czeslaw Milosz in Cynthia Haven’s An Invisible Rope and a study on Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski in the July 2001 issue of the Modern Language Review. He received the medal of the Komisja Edukacji Narodowej in 1992 and is a Foreign Member of PAU (Polska Akademia Umiejetnosci) in Cracow. A book of his poetry (Dylemat królika doswiadczalnego, Katowice, 2003) was translated into Polish by Feliks Netz.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Conference rationale

Now that over 20 years have passed since the fall of communism and many changes and developments have taken place within Polish cultural life, we would like to review the ways in which this has affected literary production. To address this topic in detail seems a logical progression from the Children of the Revolution conference held at UCL in June 2009. A further inspiration has been the debate in Tygodnik Powszechny (December 2009-February 2010), to which a number of prominent Polish writers and literary critics representing three different generations contributed, about the role of literature in Polish society. Interestingly, many of the questions that were set by the newspaper and/or raised in the course of the debate were similar to those that emerged from an earlier conference held at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies in 1993, when the future remained uncertain.
We therefore feel it is appropriate to address some of these topics in the light of 20 years actual experience. Topics will include:  changes in the political-economic system since 1989 and their impact on culture and on literature in particular (fiction, drama, poetry); the removal of censorship; the introduction of the market economy and the functioning of publishing within it, and how  literature responded to these changes. Such questions will be raised as: 
  • Does literature have to be ‘engaged’? i.e. does it fulfil (should it fulfil?) any political or social function?
  • What about 'purely' aesthetic and universalist (as opposed to predominantly Polish) considerations? Or the specifically Polish versus the ‘western’ or European? Or the local, i.e. regional (within Poland) versus the centre (e.g. the literature of ‘small homelands'?
  • How have theories and critical approaches that originated in the West (such as feminism, multiculturalism or postcolonialism) been assimilated, or not? And how have Polish critics adapted them to suit specifically Polish conditions?
In addition, we would like to consider the importance of new a generation of writers who have no memory of communism, as well as the impact of popular culture. Another important theme here would be the status of the writer: how has this changed in the new conditions?

To read the PROGRAMME of the conference go to

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Mira Rosenthal

Mira Rosenthal is the author of the poetry collection The Local World and the translator of several books by Polish poet Tomasz Rożycki. Among her awards are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the PEN American Center, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Fulbright Commission. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Houston and will soon complete a PhD. in comparative literature from Indiana
University. She is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.