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.

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