“Remembering Poland and Eastern Europe” has the aim of examining representations of Eastern Europe in fiction, autobiographies, and memoirs from the 1980s to the present, written in English by female authors who emigrated from the region, or whose parents emigrated after WW II. The complex history of this region puts high demands on contextualization of literary analyses, and so the project begins more narrowly with an initial focus on work produced by women writers of the post-WW II Polish diaspora. A series of 3-4 articles on such works is proposed for the first two years of the project, after which the scope will widen to include writing by other Eastern European diasporic writers. A secondary aim is thus to contribute to the building of competence in the English-language literature of the Eastern European and Baltic diasporas, both at Södertörn and beyond.
The project will examine the work of a neglected group of women writers, including Eva Hoffman, Lisa Appignanesi, Nina Fitzpatrick, Ewa Kuryluk, Jasia Reichardt, Eva Stachniak, and Anne Michaels. By grouping together admittedly heterogeneous writers, and in the last stage extending the scope to diasporic writing from Eastern Europe, this project seeks to analyze a range of representations and theoretical concerns which might otherwise be overlooked in critical conversations in English. The focus is on literary renditions of emergent ethnic identities, and on diasporic or exilic affect, including nostalgia. What images of war-time and post-war Poland, what understandings of Eastern Europe emerge? How do writers remember exilic and diasporic experiences? What roles are played by nostalgia, by personal and cultural memory, and by history in literary treatments of Poland, Eastern Europe, and adopted countries? How do women writers think and feel about returns to homelands? How is ethnicity constituted—if it is—in new locations? How does ethnicity travel? How are intimate relationships affected by acts of migration? How have the events of 1989 affected literary understandings of the region, and how have they affected the self-understandings of these writers?
A literary study, the project will nevertheless draw broadly on theories of ethnicity, gender, and cultural memory, as well as on specific theoretical articulations such as postmemory (Hirsch), nostalgia (Boym, Dancus), and affect (Ahmad, Dancus, Matt).