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.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

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.