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, 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.