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To overcome the hurdles: Locating Feminist Literary Research in 1990s’ Poland


Seiler, Nina (2015). To overcome the hurdles: Locating Feminist Literary Research in 1990s’ Poland. Kadın/Woman 2000 - Journal for Women's Studies, 16(2):23-43.

Abstract

The 1989 collapse of the Polish socialist system had several impacts on the country’s gender discourse. Not only did conservative discourses voice the return to a ‘traditional’ gender order, but also the legal grounds shifted with the ban on abortion in 1993 and the dismissal of a parity law in 2003. Even though this backlash evoked social movements and academic interest in gender issues, the new initiatives had to struggle with many obstacles. Feminism was strongly connoted with communism, a bogey which had only just been expelled. In this article, strategies of adaptation and subversion of public narratives will be examined on the example of feminist works in 1990s’ Polish literary studies. Unlike socialist gender research, feminist Polish studies of the 1990s shifted to an interest in culture and the historical dimension of gendered national narratives. In the 1990s, literary historical research integrated theoretical inputs from the so-called West. Both turning to pre-war literature and engaging with ‘Western’ theories worked towards distancing feminism from the connotation of communist ideology. Literary studies interfere with the discourses about national identity by questioning cultural memory and engagement with the past via their literary research material. This results in some cases in the establishment of feminism of difference, underlining the distinctiveness of female experience and cultural output. This in turn can be seen in the light of strengthening feminist identity in a disapproving society. At the same time, feminist Polonists subordinate to the narrative of catching up with global (academic) progress as they perceive feminist thought to be ‘lagging behind’ in Poland. The simultaneous reception of different theoretical strands leads to a certain conceptual fuzziness, while at the same time individualist approaches deny political engagement and support neoliberal cultural transformations.

Abstract

The 1989 collapse of the Polish socialist system had several impacts on the country’s gender discourse. Not only did conservative discourses voice the return to a ‘traditional’ gender order, but also the legal grounds shifted with the ban on abortion in 1993 and the dismissal of a parity law in 2003. Even though this backlash evoked social movements and academic interest in gender issues, the new initiatives had to struggle with many obstacles. Feminism was strongly connoted with communism, a bogey which had only just been expelled. In this article, strategies of adaptation and subversion of public narratives will be examined on the example of feminist works in 1990s’ Polish literary studies. Unlike socialist gender research, feminist Polish studies of the 1990s shifted to an interest in culture and the historical dimension of gendered national narratives. In the 1990s, literary historical research integrated theoretical inputs from the so-called West. Both turning to pre-war literature and engaging with ‘Western’ theories worked towards distancing feminism from the connotation of communist ideology. Literary studies interfere with the discourses about national identity by questioning cultural memory and engagement with the past via their literary research material. This results in some cases in the establishment of feminism of difference, underlining the distinctiveness of female experience and cultural output. This in turn can be seen in the light of strengthening feminist identity in a disapproving society. At the same time, feminist Polonists subordinate to the narrative of catching up with global (academic) progress as they perceive feminist thought to be ‘lagging behind’ in Poland. The simultaneous reception of different theoretical strands leads to a certain conceptual fuzziness, while at the same time individualist approaches deny political engagement and support neoliberal cultural transformations.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Slavonic Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
890 Other literatures
Language:English
Date:December 2015
Deposited On:21 Jan 2016 10:00
Last Modified:28 Jun 2016 11:37
Publisher:Eastern Mediterranean University Press
ISSN:1302-9916
Related URLs:http://kwj2000journal.emu.edu.tr/ (Publisher)

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