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.

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.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Agnieszka Mrozik

She is a researcher at the Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, and holds MA degrees in Polish Studies and in American Studies from the University of Warsaw. She teaches on the Institute's Postgraduate Gender Studies programme and the Faculty of Polish Studies, University of Warsaw. She has published in the following journals: Portret, Zadra, Bez Dogmatu, LiteRacja, Środkowoeuropejskie Studia Polityczne, Media, Kultura. Komunikacja Społeczna, Przegląd, Gazeta Wyborcza, Res Publica Nowa and as well as in anthologies. She is the coordinator of Feminaria - a cycle of socio-cultural discussions organized by the Institute of Literary Research's Gender Studies programme.
Recent publications include: “Czas superwomen. Młode kobiety w nauce”, Tekstualia 2010: 4, pp. 13-24; “Gender Studies in Poland: Prospects, Limitations, Challenges”, Dialogue and Universalism 2010: 5-6, pp. 19-29; “Motherhood as a Source of Suffering: On the Contemporary Polish Discourse of Maternity”, in Mapping Experience in Polish and Russian Women’s Writing, ed. Marja Rytkonen, Kirsi Kurkijärvi, Urszula Chowaniec and Ursula Phillips, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2010, pp. 214-239; “‘Wywołać z milczenia’. Literackie coming-outy aborcyjne ostatnich lat”, in Nowe dwudziestolecie (1989-2009). Rozpoznania. Hierarchie. Perspektywy, ed. Hanna Gosk, Warsaw: Elipsa, 2010, pp. 333-352; “Bombowniczki? Pożegnania z Matką Polką w prozie kobiet po 1989 roku”, in Napisać kobietę… Dyskusje bułgarsko-polskie w latach transformacji, ed. Magda Karabełowa and Anna Nasiłowska, Sofia: Ośrodek Wydawniczy „Bojan Penew”, 2009, pp. 88-114.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Hanna Gosk

Hanna Gosk is Professor in the Department of Polish Literature of the 20th Century, Faculty of Polish Studies, Warsaw University, where she is head of the Anthropological Studies in Literature Section. Among her recent books are: Bohater swoich czasów. Postać literacka w prozie polskiej XX wieku o tematyce współczesnej, 2002; Zamiast końca historii. Rozumienie i prezentacja procesu historycznego w polskiej prozie XX i XXI wieku podejmującej tematy współczesne, 2005; and Opowieści skolonizowanego/kolonizatora. W kręgu studiów postzależnościowych nad literaturą polską XX i XXI wieku, 2010.

Duncan Jamieson (University of Exeter)

Duncan Jamieson (University of Exeter) is a founding co-editor of the refereed journal Polish Theatre Perspectives (PTP), and an associate of the Grotowski Institute in Wrocław, where he has lectured on theatre and worked on various publications and research programmes since 2006. His current research project focuses on ethics and performer training in the work of Jerzy Grotowski, on which he has written in Contemporary Theatre Review (2007, 2009), and contributed a book chapter to a new collection of primary and critical texts on Grotowski in Polish (Instytut Teatralny, forthcoming 2011).   

Cynthia Haven

Cynthia L. Haven has written for The Times Literary Supplement, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Georgia Review, and The Kenyon Review. She also runs a book blog, “The Book Haven,” at An Invisible Rope: Portraits of Czesław Miłosz will be published in October by Ohio University Press/Swallow Press. Peter Dale in Conversation with Cynthia Haven was published in London, 2005; Joseph Brodsky: Conversations was published in 2002; Czesław Miłosz: Conversations in 2006. She was a 2007/08 Milena Jesenská Fellow with the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna. She is affiliate with Stanford University

Knut Andreas Grimstad

Knut Andreas Grimstad is an associate professor of Polish at the Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages, University of Oslo. He has published on Russian as well as on Polish literature and culture. He is the author of Styling Russia: Multiculture in the Prose of Nikolai Leskov (2007), and the coeditor (with Ursula Phillips) of Gender and Sexuality in Ethical Context: Ten Essays on Polish Prose (2005). At present he is working on a monograph on Witold Gombrowicz, whose plays he has also translated into Norwegian. Among Grimstad’s main interests are popular culture and Jewish-Polish relations in independent Poland from 1918 to the present day. Relevant publications include “The Rhetoric of Absence: Representing Jewishness in Post-Totalitarian Poland,” in: Contesting Europe’s Rim: Cultural Identities in Public Discourse (Bristol, 2010); “Polsko-żydowskie gry kabaretowe, czyli Juliana Tuwima próba akulturacji”, in: Polonistyka bez granic. Wiedza o literaturze i kulturze (Cracow, 2010); and “Transcending the East-West? The Jewish Part in Polish Cabaret in the Interwar-Period”, in: Jahrbuch des Simon-Dubnow-Instituts 7 (Ruprecht, 2008).

Paul Vickers

Paul Vickers completed his BA in Polish and German at UCL (SSEES) in 2006 is now in the final year of an AHRC-funded PhD at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Glasgow. His research is on the communist-era autobiographies of peasants in the former German areas of post-war Poland submitted for memoir competitions. The study examines the relationships between ordinary people's experiences, memory, censorship and
dominant historical narratives between 1944 and 1979. Paul has also researched representations of Polish-German relations in theatre. Publications include: “‘Czuję sie niczym - czy to w Polsce kapitalistycznej czy Ludowej’: Images of the Polish Father from Women’s Communist-era Memoirs”, in Postawy rodzicielskie współczesnych ojców, Maria Kujawska and Lidia Huber (eds), (Poznań: WSNHiD, 2010), pp. 48-70. [*this article is actually about women’s experiences of illegal and legal abortions in PRL but I think I must have used a (sub)conscious self-censorship in the title]; “Staging memoirs of forced migration: Jan Klata's Polish-German theatre project ‘Transfer!’”, Polish Theatre Perspectives 2010:1; “The Staging of Family Memories in Jan Klata's ‘Transfer!’”, in Rodzina-Tożsamość-Pamięć, Maria Kujawska, Izabela Skórzyńska, Grażyna Teusz (eds)* * (Poznań: WSNHiD, 2009).

Uilleam Blacker

Uilleam Blacker is a postdoctoral research associate in Polish studies on the Memory at War project, Department of Slavonic Studies, University of Cambridge. He defended his PhD on representations of space in contemporary Ukrainian literature in 2011 at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. His current research focuses on the interrelation between literature, memory and cityscapes in Eastern Europe, with a focus on the contemporary memory of vanished pre-war urban communities. Uilleam has published articles and reviews on contemporary Ukrainian and Russian literature. As part of the Memory at War project he is also working on a co-authored book on memory of the Katyn massacre. He has also translated several contemporary Ukrainian authors/

Kris Van Heuckelom

Kris Van Heuckelom is an assistant professor of Polish Language and Literature at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. His main research interests include contemporary Polish literature, visual culture, translation studies, and Polish-Jewish relations. His most recent book is (Un)masking Bruno Schulz:  New Combinations, Further Fragmentations, Ultimate Reintegrations. (Rodopi 2009, co-edited with Dieter De Bruyn). Other books include Perspectives on Slavic Literatures (Pegasus 2005, co-edited with David Danaher) and Looking at Light Reflected by the Earth: Visuality in the Poetry of Czesław Miłosz (Polish Academy of Sciences 2004, in Polish). He is currently preparing a conference and a book project on the image of Central and East European migrants in post-1989 European cinema (

Wioletta Grzegorzewska

Wioletta Grzegorzewska born in 1974 in Southern Poland. Her poetry volumes include Wyobraźnia kontrolowana (Częstochowa 1998), Parantele (Częstochowa 2003), Orinoko (Tychy 2008), Inne obroty (Toronto – Rzeszów 2010), and Ruchy Browna (Częstochowa 2011). Her poems have been published in the following literary journals and art-zines: Arterie, Arkusz, OFF_Press, Studium, Tygiel Kultury, Zeszyty Literackie. She won the “Tyska Zima Poetycka” competition for the publication of a volume of post-debut poetry. Her poems have been translated into English. In 2006, she left Poland and moved to the UK, where she currently resides in the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Antonia Lloyd-Jones is a full-time translator of Polish literature. Her published translations include fiction by Paweł Huelle (including The Last Supper, for which she won the Found in Translation Award 2008), Olga Tokarczuk and Jacek Dehnel. Her latest translations of non-fiction include reportage by Wojciech Jagielski and Jacek Hugo-Bader. She also translates poetry and books for children, most recently Kaytek the Wizard by Janusz Korczak.

Bill Johnston

Bill Johnston’s most recent translations include  Wiesław Myśliwski’s epic novel Stone upon Stone (Archipelago Books, 2010), Andrzej Stasiuk’s Dukla (Dalkey Archive, 2011), Magdalena Tulli’s In Red (Archipelago Books, 2011), and Stanisław Lem’s Solaris (Audible, 2011). He works in both poetry and prose, and has translated over twenty-five books from the Polish, including the work of contemporary writers such as Jerzy Pilch, Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki, and Tomasz Różycki. He teaches literary translation at Indiana University, where he is chair of the Department of Comparative Literature.

Catherine Grosvenor

Catherine Grosvenor studied Polish and German at Cambridge University. She works
today as a playwright and translator. Her plays include One Day All This Will Come to Nothing and Cherry Blossom for the Traverse Theatre and Gabriel for Òran Mór in Glasgow.
Translations include Our Class (Tadeusz Słobodzianek) as well as works by Pawe­ł
Demirski, Michał Walczak and Ireneusz Iredyński. She is currently working on a play about the life of Wojtek the Soldier Bear.

Dirk Uffelmann

Dirk Uffelmann is Professor and Chair of Slavic Literatures and Cultures in the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Passau, Germany. In 2005 he gained his Habilitation degree from the University of Bremen, Germany. He is the author of over 75 academic articles in English, German, Polish and Russian, covering topics of British, Czech, German, Kazakh, Polish, Russian, Slovak and Ukrainian Studies; 40 review articles; and translations from Russian and Polish into German (5 books, 92 articles); complete publication list online:

His most recent publications include the article (2010) – with Joanna Rostek: “Can the Polish Migrant Speak? The Representation of ‘Subaltern’ Polish Migrants in Film, Literature and Music from Britain and Poland”, in Facing the East in the West: Images of Eastern Europe in British Literature, Film and Culture, ed. Barbara Korte, Eva Ulrike Pirker and Sissy Helff (Internationale Forschungen zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft 138). Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 311–334. His most recent monograph is Der erniedrigte Christus – Metaphern und Metonymien in der russischen Kultur und Literatur (Bausteine zur Slavischen Philologie und Kulturgeschichte. Reihe A: Slavistische Forschungen 62). Cologne: Böhlau-Verlag, 2010, xi + 1046 pp.

Grzegorz Niziołek

Grzegorz Niziołek is Professor of Theatre Studies at the Jagiellonian University. His research interests focus on postwar Polish theatre and drama, the relationship between history and art, and memory and theatre. He is a co-founder of the “Didaskalia” theatre magazine, and its current editor-in-chief. His publications include books on Krystian Lupa, Tadeusz Różewicz and Krzysztof Warlikowski. His articles on contemporary Polish theatre have been published in various theatre magazines in Poland and abroad.

Joanna Michlic

Joanna Beata Michlic is Director of the HBI (Hadassah-Brandeis Institute) Project on Families, Children, and the Holocaust at Brandeis University. She received her doctorate and her master’s degree in modern European and Jewish history from the London School of Economics, and her bachelor’s degree in Slavonic studies at Łódź University, Poland.  Between 2000 and 2003 she was a Lady Davis Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem. Until December 2008 she was an Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Holocaust and Ethical Values at Lehigh University, Bethlehem Pennsylvania. Her major publications include Neighbors Respond: The Controversy about Jedwabne (2004; co-edited with Antony Polonsky) and Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present (hardback 2006, paperback 2008, Polish translation 2011, Hebrew translation 2013). She is currently working on three monographs: The Social History of Jewish Children in Poland: Survival and Identity, 1945—1949, “More Than a Basket of Bread”: The Early Postwar Correspondence of Rescuers and Jewish Survivors in Poland, and Bringing the Dark to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe, co-edited with John-Paul Himka (Lincoln, NUP, 2012).

She has written articles and reviews for American History Review, East European Jewish Affairs, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Jewish Social Studies, Polin, Slavonic and East European Review, Yad Vashem Studies and Zagłada. Her research interests include the history and culture of East European Jewry, Polish-Jewish relations in the modern era, Jewish childhood, the Holocaust and its memory in Eastern Europe, and nationalism and minorities in Eastern Europe. Recent awards include: Taube Foundation Grant for the translation of Poland’s Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present into Polish (Oficyna Wydawnicza Rytm, forthcoming); Çorrie ten Boom Research Award at the Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, University of Southern California LA, Spring 2008; and Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Fellowship 2009-20.

Marek Kazmierski

Marek Kazmierski was born in Warsaw, and raised in London. Marek is a writer/translator/film-maker and runs OFF_PRESS, a bi-lingual indie journal and publishing house. He is also a trustee of Not Shut Up, a prison literary magazine and Apart Arts, a migrant artists association which has worked with the Southbank Centre, Polish Cultural Institute, the Mayor of London and various other arts and civic organisations.

Monika Świerkosz

Monika Świerkosz is a PhD student in the Department of Polish Studies at the Jagiellonian University (Kraków) writing her dissertation on feminist literary discourse of the past in relation to such cultural categories as tradition, memory, history and women’s intergenerational conflict. She has published critical and scholarly articles in many Polish literary magazines including Zadra, Dekada Literacka, FA-art, Opcje and Teksty Drugie. She is also a co-editor of uniGENDER - a peer-reviewed Internet magazine devoted to the issues of gender studies.

Paul Allain

Paul Allain is Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Kent,
Canterbury. He has worked extensively on Eastern European theatre, including Gardzienice: Polish Theatre in Transition (1997) and the co-edited Cambridge Companion to Chekhov (2000). He also wrote The Art of Stillness: The Theatre Practice of Tadashi Suzuki (2002; revised 2nd edition with DVD, 2009), and co-authored The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance (2006). He has recently led AHRC- and Leverhulme-funded research projects on Grotowski and on actor training in collaboration with the Moscow Art Theatre School. As part of the former, he edited both Grotowski’s Empty Room (2009) and Ludwik Flaszen’s Grotowski & Company (2010).

Robert Kulpa

Robert Kulpa ( is completing his Ph.D. research in the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK. He is interested in queer studies, “post-communist transformations” in the context of post-colonialism, non-normative identities and nationalism. His publications include articles in books: 21st Century Handbook of Political Science (Sage 2010), Sage Encyclopaedia of Gender and Society (Sage 2009), and The EU and Central & Eastern Europe: Successes and Failures in Europeanisation in Politics and Society (Ibidem 2009). He is a Guest Editor of the “Queer Studies: Methodological Approaches” Special Issue of the Graduate Journal of Social Science (2008 and 2009) and an editor of the online journal Sextures ( Together with Joanna Mizielińska, he is co-editor of “De-Centring Western Sexualities: Central and East European Perspectives” (Ashgate: 2011).

Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese

Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese translates contemporary Polish poetry into English. Her translations appear regularly in journals and anthologies, most recently in New European Poets (Graywolf Press, 2008) and Six Polish Poets (ARC, 2008). Her versions of Krystyna Miłobędzka are forthcoming from Arc Publications. Salt Monody is a selection of fifty-three translations from Marzanna Kielar (Zephyr Press, 2006). She co-edited Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird: Poetry from Poland. A bilingual edition (Zephyr Press, 2004), which presents twenty-four Polish poets born between 1958 and 1969. She is a contributing editor to Poetry Wales and co-editor of Przekładaniec. A Journal of Literary Translation (Kraków, Poland). She also translates Polish children’s books and English-language poetry. As a translator and writer, she has been involved in the Metropoetica project – ‘Poetry and Urban Space: Women Writing Cities’ ( Her research involves literary translation, cognitive poetics (she holds a Ph.D. in cognitive linguistics) and genetic criticism. As a Fulbright scholar she examined Elizabeth Bishop’s archival material, which resulted in Cognitive Poetic Readings in Elizabeth Bishop: Portrait of a Mind Thinking (Mouton de Gruyter, 2010). She lives in Copenhagen and teaches at the Centre for Internationalisation and Parallel Language Use, University of Copenhagen.

Paul Vickers, University of Glasgow, School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Constructing the memory of a PolishJewish Community in Tadeusz Słobodzianek’s Nasza klasa/ Our Class (2008/ 2010)

In this paper I explore the evolution of Tadeusz Słobodzianek’s Nasza klasa/ Our Class from the 2008 ‘History in Twenty Lessons’ shortlisted for the Gdynia Drama Award (Gdyńska Nagroda Dramaturgiczna) to the 2010 Nike Prize-winning fourteen-lesson drama.
I argue that Słobodzianek’s drama shifts away from the earlier version’s blunt critique of the Polish national memory paradigm of exclusivist heroic victimhood towards a subtler attempt to portray the tensions involved in the negotiation of a PolishJewish community of memory. Such a community would be a site of competing and conflicting claims to victimhood and accusations of perpetration, alongside moments of harmonious JewishPolish coexistence. Like Słobodzianek’s drama, this community of memory avoids mythologizing a PolishJewish prewar idyll and also the “kitsch of reconciliation”.
I approach Nasza klasa as more than an attempted dramatic representation of the Jedwabne Pogrom. Rather, the text, and its evolution since 2008, also reflects the development of discourse on the Holocaust in Poland following the publication of JT Gross’ Neighbors. Consequently, only the 2010 version contains competing “versions of events” of the massacre itself and also depicts postwar construction of multiple memories of the pogrom, both between and within Polish and Jewish communities. However, the drama’s construction ensures that the author’s less-favoured narratives are critiqued throughout.
The revised version’s form also reflects shifts in Polish discussion on the Holocaust. Thus unlike the 2008 text’s Class, the Polish and Jewish classmates in the published text no longer present their postwar experiences in near-isolated Polish and Jewish groups. Rather the protagonists engage in dialogue, debate, contradicting each other’s claims, thus reflecting the negotiated process of Polish attempts to accommodate the Jewish Other’s experiences and their implication for Polish national memory.
As numerous critics note, the drama indeed tells us “nothing new” about Jedwabne as an event; however, Nasza klasa’s significance lies, rather, in its representation and commentary on the construction of memory discourses once Jedwabne became common knowledge in Poland. In this way the 2010 Nasza klasa contributes to the ongoing and necessarily unceasing process of Vergangenheitsbewältigung or coming to terms with the past.

Błażej Warkocki (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan)

               Strategies of homosexual/gay emancipation in Polish prose since 1989

            This paper will develop around the trope of „gay emancipation” in Polish literature of the last three decades. I will be particularly interested in coming-out narratives
            I will begin (briefly) with two authors of the early 1980s: Julian Stryjkowski (short story Tomasso del Cavaliere) and Marian Pankowski (Rudolf). The first one presents, I want to suggest, a “modernist” strategy, as opposed to the “Genet-like” strategy of the second author. And that is starting-point of emancipatory strategies in Polish prose.
            The beginning of the 1990s sees the addition of the new, “strictly emancipatory” strategy of authors like Marcin Krzeszowiec, Witold Jabłoński,  Tadeusz Antos, Tadeusz Olszewski. Novels written by these authors were not noticed by Polish critics.
            In this context I want to examine the „poetics of inexpressible desire” (German Ritz's term), which became the most famous analytical tool used to read Polish modernist prose (especially that of Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz)
            Finally, the latest turning-point came with Michał Witkowski's famous novel “Lubiewo” (English: “Lovetown” translated by William Martin) and five other novels published around 2007, which were a reaction to homophobia and the political situation in the country.
            I will analyse these writings from the socio-anthropological perspective, trying to weave the literary and the social fabric of these texts again together. Particularly, I am interested in the presence (or sometimes, absence) of “coming out” narratives, which have been identified in American literary scholarship as one of the key elements of so-called “lesbian and gay writing”. Will the lesson to be learned from an analysis of the named authors be the same as one present in the Western and longer-established tradition? Is it possible to write gay plots without coming-out structures? I intend to answer these questions.

Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
Polish Studies
Department of Anthropology of Literature

Dirk Uffelmann (University of Passau, Germany)

Wrong Sex and the City: Polish Migration and Masculinity
- Abstract -

This paper aims to discuss challenges to traditional models of masculinity in the wake of migration to Western metropolises. Drawing on examples from recent literary production by (and about) Polish migrants to Germany (Becker, Knapp, Muszer, Rudnicki), the UK (Bolec, Koziarski, Kropiwnicki, Sędzikowski) and Ireland (Wojnarowski), it explores how male migrants are deprived of (seemingly) secure masculine roles when confronted with a subaltern position as unskilled migrant workers. Special attention is paid to the modes of literary compensation for subalternity – carnivalisation (Bakhtin), the picaresque hero, mimicry (Bhabha), Signifying (Gates), self-orientalisation (Khalid) and so on.

Monika Świerkosz (Jagiellonian University, Kraków)

Marianna in the House of Bluebeard: Tropes of Female Authorship in Absolute Amnesia.

Absolute Amnesia (1995) is a book that has evoked many discussions in Polish literature after 1989, of both a critical (about menstrual/women’s literature and the processes of canon formation) and a political nature (related to the questioning of the significance of the Romantic heritage of the past). In my presentation, I would like to show these mutual relations between text and its literary context, reading Marianna – the main character of the novel - as a figure of female authorship.

As Izabela Filipiak writes in her well-known essay Literatura monstrualna, the situation of the woman writer within the canon is comparable to that of Bluebeard’s young wife when she enters her husband’s castle. Unlike in the fairy tale however, the woman writer does not allow herself to break the ban and cross the threshold of the Bloody Chamber. Is it because of the ‘anxiety of authorship’ - this female malady of a specific nature well-described in feminist criticism? Can she walk out of Bluebeard’s house?

Absolute amnesia contains tropes of both possible and impossible female authorship and thus displays various strategies of a writing woman’s experiences within the framework of the canonical tradition and outside of it. The language of family metaphors – mother (and grandmother), father, daughter and son figures – used by Filipiak to confront the writer with tradition (and the past), reveals that the matter of sexual difference stands at the very centre of the discourse of canonicity.

Katarzyna Zechenter, SSEES UCL

“Matka Żydówka”: Jewish Women and Memory

The three recent autobiographical works: Frascati Street by Ewa Kuryluk, Here you go by Ada Rottenberg and Bozena Keff’s Work About My Mother and Homeland represent three ways of dealing with a difficult, disturbing and hidden past for the generation that knows the Holocaust mostly through their parents’ incomplete stories and the absence of larger, extended families. This paper outlines major strategies employed by the writers using Jan Assmann’s theory of cultural memory to reconstruct to what degree the knowledge of national differences and histories, collective and private prejudices, as well as the relative lack of ‘collective’ or ‘social memory’ of the Holocaust, or in general ‘the distance from the everyday’ informs their understanding of who they are and why they are who they are.
It is proposed that the notion of a modern Polish Jewish woman emerges as part of the effort of a generation that tries to understand and internalise their feelings of rejection by wider society in which the hidden memory of the Holocaust and absence become a focal point. These women also need to locate themselves within the notion of ‘a Polish mother’ and ‘a true mother’ both as mothers and daughters. Their complicated relationships with their mothers informs their relations with their children and their homeland where they are both seen as an intrinsic part and the Other.

Mira Rosenthal, Stanford University

Czesław Miłosz as a Translator of Contemporary Poetry

Anglophone readers of Czesław Miłosz’s poetry and prose have always lacked a sufficient narrative of his career. Even now, much of his early poetry is unavailable in English, and various English-language prose volumes collect essays that were originally distant in date of composition and intellectual framing. The chronological reach of this paper suggests that Miłosz indeed developed as a writer (of poetry, essays, fiction, and translations) and that his lifelong practice of translating the work of other writers (their poems, essays, plays, and translations) had everything to do with this development. In telling the story of how Miłosz’s translations of Polish and American poetry came about during the years he lived in the United States—from his early translations of American poets and his first forays into self-translation to anthologies of translation he put together with his own commentaries later in life—this paper helps us understand the evolution of his thinking about translation and the shifting relationship between English and Polish literatures from the 1960s into the 21st century. His ideas about translation do not constitute a unified theory that can be divorced from its development, and his various translation projects are not a stable body of work to be evaluated for fidelity. Rather, ideas change over time and translations have different consequences in new locations. As political realities shifted during these years, so too Miłosz’s choices as a translator circumscribed an ever increasing and more complex comprehension of the interplay between minor and major languages. This paper teases out the conceptual capital latent in this narrative.

Grzegorz Niziołek (Jagiellonian University, Kraków)

Patterns of Resentment

The experience of resentment has shaped nearly all the significant phenomena in Polish theatre and drama of the past two decades. The powerful political and cultural transformations which occurred shortly after 1989 froze the initial impact of this resentment and even negated its presence – the first suppression seemed to be quite successful, and to promise an unbroken transition from the old to the new. All the denied resentments erupted a few years later, considerably affecting Polish theatre and drama. As a result, patterns of resentment can be easily traced in major performances staged by Krystian Lupa, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Jan Klata and Monika Strzępka, and in plays written by Andrzej Stasiuk, Dorota Masłowska and Paweł Demirski. The experience of resentment forges their latent structures, becomes the object of attack or sympathy, provokes painful emotions, undermines the new ideologies and ridicules the old ones, and finally, provides readers and spectators with an instrument for critically approaching Polish history. This also expresses itself in a speciality of the Polish theatre, which is to evoke and depict the suffering of the humiliated body after it has been inscribed by resentment. Researching these phenomena takes us back to post-war Polish culture and its traumas, which have recently been revived through post-memory strategies, verging on both memory and history. The humiliated body has become the centre of the theatrical cosmos, and it is called on stage to speak out. The voice of resentment remains the most provocative strategy in Polish theatre and drama.

Joanna Michlic (Brandeis University)

“Living in the Shadow of Wartime Traumas: Contemporary Autobiographical Writings of Child Holocaust Survivors in Poland.”

The paper will focus on the traumatic impact of the Second World War on child Holocaust survivors, and how it is translated in autobiographical literature through the works of Michał Głowiński (1934) and Piotr Matywiecki (1943), two acclaimed figures of the contemporary Polish literary world. During the last two decades, both Matywiecki and Głowiński have written about their wartime experiences, and the complexities of their postwar double identities as Jewish survivors and Poles living in post-1945 Poland. Their writing on the subject can be interpreted as a meaningful search for identity, a compelling confession and a powerful desire to come out of the closet.
The paper will explore Jewish identity in the shadow of the Holocaust in Głowiński’s and Matywiecki’s autobiographical writings, including essays, novels and memoirs. The paper will pose questions about the representations of Jewishness and Polishness, and the nature and evolution of themes pertaining to the memory of the Holocaust. Finally, the paper will place these authors within the tradition of autobiographical writings of child Holocaust authors such as Henryk Grynberg and Suzanne Suleiman.

Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Translating children’s literature

Poland has a long tradition of excellent children’s books, and in the past decade new children's publishers, authors and illustrators have produced some highly original books across a wide range of genres. I hope to show that contemporary Polish children’s literature offers a challenging and interesting area for translators, one that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. For the translator, children’s books present some specific issues. With reference to several books that represent various genres/age groups (e.g. picture books for children under ten, stories and novels for roughly seven-to-twelve-year-olds, and novels aimed at teenagers) I will give examples of some of these, including: considerations for the reader’s age group (e.g. how far to depart from local references that non-Polish children won’t recognise, and whether or not to change names); finding the right register for speech (e.g. playground colloquial language, teenage slang); and some knotty puzzles of the kind that keep translators occupied for hours (e.g. the younger children’s books have a high incidence of puns and other word play, not to mention rhymes and made-up words). This is also a call to arms, to encourage other translators to help convince English-language publishers that Polish children’s books can compete and are well worth publishing.

Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese

Rewritten Poems and Anthologized Presences: A Sequel

In 1991, introducing Stanisław Barańczak’s anthology Polish Poetry of the Last Two Decades of Communist Rule: Spoiling Cannibals’ Fun, Helen Vendler expressed her strong conviction that Polish poets would know how to cope without Communism: ‘The Mr. Cogitos of Poland will not lack for things to write about with respect to their own past and future; and the old and distinguished resources of the Polish literary tradition, from folk ballads to historical epics, will surely not fail them’ (xxi). Vendler’s belief in the creative resourcefulness of Polish Mr. Cogitos reinforced, paradoxically, the cognitive template of ‘the East European poem’ popularized in English-speaking poetic circles thanks to anthologists and translators. In 2004 Jerzy Jarniewicz, my guest at the ‘Poetries, Translations, Cultures’ symposium, argued – much to the dismay of Daniel Weissbort, another guest and editor of the 1991 anthology significantly entitled The Poetry of Survival: Post-War Poets of Central and Eastern Europe – that the East European poem had long died. ‘In its place new poetry has appeared – poems by Marcin Świetlicki, Andrzej Sosnowski, Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki, Darek Foks, Roman Honet, Mariusz Grzebalski. [This new poetry] does not need the support of political context or exotic historical experience. However, it does require from its translators creativity which equals that of the original authors’ (Przekładaniec 2004-2005: 36).
Bearing in mind André Lefevere’s argument that translating and anthologizing are acts of rewriting (see Translation, Rewriting and the Manipulation of Literary Fame, 1992), I would like to examine the rewritten presences of the new Polish poetry. My current investigation will start where I left off in the 2000 essay ‘How to Make a Name for Yourself: Contemporary Polish Poetry in English, Anthologies and Choices’, which finished with the 1993 Donald Pirie anthology collecting poems that ‘speak with the authentic voices of real “singularities” and their very sensual experience of what is more than a New Poland – it is a New World’ (xxvi). While writing that essay, I myself was engaged in the act of rewriting: translating and co-editing Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird. Poetry from Poland, which finally appeared in 2004, the year which also saw Altered State: The New Polish Poetry. I have since guest-edited or assisted editing seven presentations of Polish poets, which also feature my translations. How alive are the rewritten poems?

The Centre for Internationalisation and Parallel Language Use
University of Copenhagen

Bill Johnston, Indiana University

The Peasants are Revolting
Szymek from the Village and Joe from Missouri:
Problems of Voice in Translating Wiesław Myśliwski’s Stone upon Stone


The paper offers an example of praxis (Freire, 1970), or theoretically informed reflection on practice, in exploring choices made in the process of translating Wiesław Myśliwski’s 1984 novel Kamień na kamieniu into English. The translation process presented at least two significant issues above and beyond the usual problems of literary translation. First, Myśliwski’s novel is often categorized as “peasant literature,” yet the use of dialectal and other nonstandard forms of English is highly problematic for a number of reasons. Second, the tone of the novel is overwhelmingly that of spoken, rather than written, language, thus presenting a problem in the creation of a written text.
            In describing the approach I took to dealing with these two issues, I draw on the concept of remainder, a notion that Venuti (2000) borrows from the work of Lecercle (1990). Venuti describes remainder as comprising “target-oriented possibilities of meaning” (p. 485) that are not present in the original yet emerge in the translation. I explore the particular kinds of remainder that I sought to exclude from the translation—these included geographically identifiable dialectal forms, eye dialect, markers of uneducated speech, British English expressions, Latinate words, and semi-colons—and also those I attempted to include, which included generic spoken forms of language, idiomatic expressions, and occasional non-identifiable dialectal forms. Lastly, I reflect on what other kinds of remainder may have inadvertently remained in the finished translation, and what effect this remainder might have on the reception of the novel in English.

Jerzy Jarzębski (Jagiellonian University, Kraków)

The Conflict of Generations and the Crisis of Plot in the Most Recent Polish Prose

One of the most visible features of Polish prose of the past twenty years is a kind of paresis in the plot resolutions. The action of recent novels does not usually drive forward towards any clear conclusions, but rather flounders in descriptions that promise no resolution of inter-human conflicts.  It looks as though the heroes have been deprived of the ability to overcome life’s obstacles, which likewise affects men as well as women (and a description of the overcoming of such obstacles is what propels the plot in prose fiction). The problems of the protagonists begin in childhood and are the result of disastrous relationships with parents, and especially with their fathers (or stepfathers). This can be seen especially in the prose of Izabela Filipiak, Wojciech Kuczok, Bohdan Sławiński, Jerzy Franczak, while a specific type of conflict with the mother is experienced by Bożena Keff’s heroine (Utwór o Matce i Ojczyźnie). Sometimes – as in Niehalo by Ignacy Karpowicz or in Bóg zapłacz By Włodzimierz Kowalewski – the conflict seems to divide the generations. This crisis is averted by Karpowicz in his Gesty, where the protagonist enters into an understanding with his mother. In my presentation I would like to analyse various aspects of the intergenerational conflicts and their influence on the strange “immobilization” of the protagonists and the paresis in the narration of plots in which they play the main role.

Duncan Jamieson

‘Reanimating’ the Past: Collective remembering as a cultural praxis in Krzysztof Warlikowski’s rehearsal processes (1999-2011)

The performance of memory has constituted an important aspect of post-war Polish theatre – ranging from Tadeusz Kantor’s mnemotechnic devices for evoking officially disallowed histories onstage to Jerzy Grotowski’s uses of scenic montage in ‘screening’ his actors’ stagings of personal material from their lives, to name two of the best-known examples. However, while various deployments of critical memory in pre-1989 Polish theatre practices have received considerable scholarly attention both domestically and internationally, many of the distinctive ways in which contemporary performance practitioners have sought to address the crucial role of collective memory in (re)configuring identity discourses in post-communist Poland have been sidelined or overlooked to date.
This paper will take a closer look at several performance examples from the work of the acclaimed theatre director Krzysztof Warlikowski, examining how he and his ‘informal ensemble’ of co-creators have sought to approach the cultural witnessing of certain traumatic events in Polish history and their resonances in contemporary public life. In doing so, the paper will focus on the rehearsal process as a whole, in order to draw attention to elements that are not always made explicit or directly ‘visible’ within the final script and production choices – and consequently have been overlooked by many theatre critics and researchers to date – but which nonetheless have formed part of the ‘deep layering’ of memory discourses within a number of their major theatre productions, often exerting a notable impact on Polish audiences.
The performance examples will illustrate how Warlikowski and his collaborators have informed and interwoven their work on non-historical (and non-Polish) scripts with dramaturgical correlates taken from contested episodes of Polish history and historiography, primarily concerning the Second World War period. Crucially, the chosen examples will show how this process is often centred on redeploying ‘memory traces’ of events and experiences that Warlikowski considers variously to have been excluded, forgotten, marginalised, or ‘disfigured’ by what he calls ‘amnesiac’ modes of public discourse and remembrance, both during the communist and post-communist periods in Poland. Through attention to how these traces emerge and are articulated by the ensemble during rehearsals, I will address in particular the ways in which identity themes that are frequently associated with Warlikowski’s theatre – such as minoritarian affiliations and solidarities, culturally hybrid subjectivities, and the Polish-Jewish cultural heritage – are represented in the discrete contributions of the actors, director, dramaturg, scenographer, and other colleagues to the productions signed collectively under Warlikowski’s name.
Much of this co-authored work begins from identifying and investigating pressing issues for the individual practitioners, with the ensemble’s final production scores constructed from an intricate interweaving of personal, historical, journalistic, and dramatic narratives, scenarios, and devices. My presentation will thus aim to reveal some of the techniques with which Warlikowski as director attempts to ‘mobilise’ his collaborators and to create a multilayered impact on the spectators, by exploring their shifting relationships to the collective memory traces established during rehearsals and integrated to varying degrees within public performances. Recurring features here include: the physical presence or denotation of real historical objects within the production designs; the dramaturgical layering of reportage and found texts within fictionalised scenes (e.g. in stagings of Shakespeare or Greek tragedy); uses of historical testimony in processes of script adaptation and improvisation; and aspects of cultural memory evoked through musical and filmic devices. In particular, I will consider dimensions of the actors’ work, such as the indexing of recognisable historical situations in performers’ interactions, the ‘filtering’ of personal experiences through the role, and the use of flexible performance personas (usually working along a spectrum of ‘character’/‘commentator’/‘personal-confessional’) to guide viewers’ attention and to shift between different modes of memory-association and critical commentary.
Using extracts from Warlikowski’s and his colleagues’ reflections on their rehearsal processes – set within a critical framework developed from hermeneutic and psychoanalytic theory, and from recent writings in the expansive field of memory studies – the paper will look to (re)situate their theatre practice, considering it as part of a broader shift in the remapping of identity discourses on the contemporary Polish stage. In this regard, the paper will focus on two areas in particular. Firstly, it will challenge a major trend in the reception of Warlikowski’s productions that characterises his work as ‘refuting’ its ‘Polish identity’, arguing that this practice seeks rather to interrogate essentialized conceptions of ‘Polishness’ and symbolic citizenship in the present, through critical re-readings of recent historical experience (to re-open ‘the future of the past’, in Ricœur’s terms). Secondly, it will review the selected performance examples in light of Warlikowski’s suggestion that the political force of much new Polish theatre derives from its capacity to contribute to a shift in the wider socio-political imaginary, towards a more inclusive reckoning with the problems of collective remembering and self-reification. Ultimately, while affinities undoubtedly exist with the work of other current practitioners, I will contend that the ensemble’s densely layered ‘reanimation’ of memory traces constitutes a highly distinctive approach to the cultural recognition and working-through of historical wounds and scars – one that, in a quasi-therapeutic manner, engages both artists’ and audiences’ narrative resources to re-imagine the relationship between past and present ‘otherwise’.

Kris van Heuckelom (Catholic University of Leuven)

Itinerant (Wo)Men. Migration and Inter-Ethnic Coupling in Recent Polish Prose
Throughout the 1990s, authors such as Manuela Gretkowska, Janusz Rudnicki, Krzysztof Maria Załuski, Izabela Filipiak i Bronisław Świderski have put much effort into coming to terms with the traditional commitments and expectations posed upon Polish émigré authors and in outlining the existential dilemmas and universal challenges faced by Poles living and working abroad in the post-89 era. The literary characters (and authors) embodying this new literary paradigm have been given manifold names: stipend-holders, cosmopolitans, semi-emigrants, transnationals, globetrotters, transmigrants, ...
New westbound migration waves in the years preceding and following Poland’s accession to the European Union seem to have consolidated and reinforced the topicality of migration-related issues in Polish literary and cultural discourses. The past few years have seen a remarkable outburst of creativity on the part of young – and not-so-young – authors providing fictional – and less fictional – accounts of their recent expat experiences. The list of books and authors involved includes, but is not limited to: Global Nation. Obrazki z czasów popkultury by Grzegorz Kopaczewski (2004), Własne miejsca by Ewa Tubylewicz (2005), Hotel Irlandia by Iwona Słabuszewska-Krauze (2006), Socjopata w Londynie by Daniel Koziarski (2007), Zajezdnia Londyn by Aleksander Kropiwnicki (2007), Przystupa by Grażyna Plebanek (2007), Dublin. Moja polska karma by Magdalena Orzeł (2007), Egri bikaver by Łukasz Suskiewicz (2009), Przebiegum życiae by Piotr Czerwiński (2009), Kara by Maja Wolny (2009), Polska szkoła boksu by Adam Miklasz (2009), Zielona wyspa by Mariusz Wieteska (2010), Karpie, łabędzie i Big Ben by Ada Martynowska (2010), and Nielegalne związki by Grażyna Plebanek (2010).
Most of the books involved feature narrators or protagonists in their twenties for whom the stay abroad takes on the form of a rite of passage. The immediate consequence of the departure is a detachment from familiar (parental/national) surroundings that seems to mark the transition from adolescence and immaturity towards adulthood and self-development. In this paper, I will investigate the way these recent migration/coming-of-age narratives deal with the issue of inter-ethnic coupling in the diasporic space. While the decision to leave the body of the nation can be seen as a first form of transgressive behaviour (especially in the case of women, whose traditional role as reproducers of the nation has tended to put limitations on their mobility), entering into a mixed relationship (and creating “hybrid” children) might be said to present an even greater challenge to traditional notions of Polishness. Therefore, this paper will look into the various rhetorical and representational strategies that are used in the literary construction of migration as a narrative of masculine and feminine identity.