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

Urszula Chowaniec

The Ruined Bodies of Travellers and Foreigners in Contemporary Polish Women’s Writing
(Mapping Melancholy as a Revolutionary Gesture)

     In my paper I wish to present an overview of a representative selection of Polish women’s fiction written after 1989 as read from the perspective of the theory on melancholy (Luce Irigaray, Speculum of the Other Woman, also Kaja Silverman and Julia Kristeva). I argue that the melancholy of this writing is especially visible in the representation of human body and flesh, which is usually presented in fragments, as if destroyed and ruined (hence the metaphor I use for this representation, the ruined bodies).
            I shall present a twofold identification of the source of the melancholy in these texts. One explanation is psychological, due to the specific social, cultural, and political post-transformative situation, in which the subject is lost and disorientated in the new post-socialist reality, in which the notions of displacement, homelessness and (e)migration became especially vivid as the metaphors for the condition of the contemporary subject.
            The second explanation is of a more political and discursive character. It indicates how the melancholy of women’s writing in contemporary Polish culture is enrooted in a specific Polish context (especially literary and cultural discourse) in which a woman is evidently positioned as the Other, the Stranger (or Foreigner) herself.
            I see women’s texts consequently marginalized in the Polish context; and I use the vehicle of the ruined body to present the melancholic themes as a possible way of reclaiming the voice in the literary scene. I see melancholy as a particular game within patriarchal discourse, which aims at empowering women’s writing.
            Hence, contextualizing Polish women’s writing within the Polish literary discourse, in which women writers seem to occupy the position of foreigners, I see the melancholic themes not as a regression or as a passive voice (an Irigarayan rather than a Kristevian interpretation), but as a revolutionary gesture to expose the unequal reality, and by exposing it to transform it in the Foucauldian sense of the active subversive element that works within the normative discourse.

Ursula Chowaniec, Ph.D.
Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski Kraków University,