Browsing Studia Anglica Posnaniensia, 2015 vol. 50.2-3 by Issue Date
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ItemLiterariness and racial consciousness in Paule Marshall’s memoir "Triangular Road" and Gloria Naylor’s fictionalized memoir "1996"(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2015) Łobodziec, AgnieszkaBlack American women writers were side-lined by the literary canon as recently as the 1980s. Today, as a result of their agency, a distinct literary tradition that bears witness to black women’s particular expressiveness is recognized. Bernard Bell observes that the defining features common to most literary works by black American women are a focus on racist oppression, black female protagonists, the pursuit of demarginalization, women’s bonding, women’s relationship with the community, the power of emotions, and black female language. Although these elements refer predominantly to novels, they are also present in Paule Marshall’s memoir Triangular Road (2009) and Gloria Naylor’s fictionalized memoir 1996 (2005). Moreover, the two works are fitting examples of racial art, the point of departure of which, according to Black Arts Movement advocates, should be the black experience. Actually, since through memoirs the authors offer significant insights into themselves, the genre seems closer to this objective of racial art than novels. At the same time, taking into consideration the intricate plot structures, vivid images, and emotional intensity, their memoirs evidence the quality of literariness i.e., in formalist terms, the set of features that distinguish texts from non-literary ones, for instance, reports, articles, text books, and encyclopaedic biographical entries. Moreover, Marshall and Naylor utilize creative imagination incorporating fabulation, stories within stories, and people or events they have never personally encountered, which dramatizes and intensifies the experiences they relate. In Marshall’s memoir, the fictitious elements are discernable when she imagines the historical past. Naylor demarks imagined narrative passages with separate sections that intertwine with those based upon her actual life experience. ItemLife fictions: Radicalization of life-writing in Leslie Scalapino’s "Zither & Autobiography" and "Dahlia’s Iris: Secret Autobiography & Fiction"(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2015) Myk, MałgorzataThe paper discusses radicalized aesthetics and politics of structure and form in the experimental autobiographical writing of American avant-garde author Leslie Scalapino. Associated with the innovative protocols of the “Language School” poetry movement, Scalapino’s oeuvre emerges as simultaneously a poststructuralist and phenomenologically oriented poetics in which writing performs a thoroughgoing scrutiny of how one’s implication in linguistic and cultural matrices determines one’s being in the world. Scalapino’s Autobiography, framed by Paul de Man’s remarks on autobiographical writing as always controlled by the external expectations of self-fashioning, sets out to examine and deconstruct the autobiographical project as in itself constructive of one’s life. In Zither the poet complicates her take on life-writing by interrogating and reconceptualizing hidden mechanisms of the genre and confronting it with its own fictional status, while in Dahlia’s iris Scalapino juxtaposes detective fiction with a Tibetan form of written “secret autobiography”, based on a radical departure from the chronology of one’s biography toward a phenomenological horizon of what she refers to as “one’s life seeing”, a practice of attempting to see one’s mind’s constructions as they are formed by the outside as well as by one’s internalization of the outside. ItemRe-constructing the self in language and narrative in Eva Hoffman’s "Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language" and Anaїs Nin’s "Early Diaries"(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2015) Jarczok, AnitaThis essay analyses the life narratives of two European women – Anaїs Nin’s Diary and Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation – in order to investigate how their transition to North America affected their sense of self. It emphasises the key role that language and narrative play in the formation of identity, and argues that both writers reinvented themselves both in their adopted language and in writing. Item“Autobiographical in feeling but not in fact”: The finale of Alice Munro’s "Dear Life"(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2015) Ładuniuk, MagdalenaAlice Munro has always been known for reworking personal material in her stories. On numerous occasions she openly admitted to adopting some of her real experiences into her fiction, yet at the same time she declared that her writing remains fictional, not autobiographical. However, the writer’s attitude seems to have changed with the publication of Dear Life (2012), supposedly the last book in her career. In the note preceding the last four stories in the collection, she suggests that they might constitute her autobiography. This article discusses “The Eye,” “Night,” “Voices” and “Dear Life” in relation to Munro’s biography. It reflects on the narrative techniques the author uses to create the impression of authenticity and autobiographicality in the stories. It also aims to answer the question whether they should be indeed classified as Munro’s autobiography. ItemEpistemic disobedience and decolonial healing in Norma Elía Cantú’s "Canícula"(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2015) Poks, MałgorzataUsing the U.S.-Mexican border as the place of enunciation, Cantú’s autoethnobiographical novel insists on the materiality of the border, especially for those living on its southern side, while simultaneously deconstructing it as artificial – a line splitting families and assigning nationalities on an arbitrary basis. Being a collage of photographs from the time the writer was growing up in southern Texas and the cuentos inspired by these visuals, Cantú’s Canícula documents how border crossings and re-crossings become symptomatic of living in a liminal space and how they destabilize the concept of nationality as bi-national families must learn to live with ambiguity. On the one hand, there is the undeniable materiality of the border, with its pain, fear, deportations, and other discriminatory practices; on the other, there is a growing border community of resistance cultivating the memory that they are not immigrants, that they lived in Texas before the Guadalupe-Hidalgo treaty. The paper examines the community’s strategies of survival in the contested cultural and social space and advances the thesis that, giving her community an awareness of its homogeneity and reclaiming its place within the larger socio-political context, Cantú becomes an agent of empowerment and change. She helps decolonize knowledge and being. ItemThe self lost, the self adjusted: Forming a new identity in bereavement memoirs by American women(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2015) Małecka, KatarzynaMost Western cultures place a great value on autonomy. American society in particular has always stressed the need to succeed via self-reliance, a characteristic which, in recent decades, has additionally manifested itself in an increasing inclination for self-examination reflected in the deluge of autobiographical writing, especially memoirs. This analysis focuses on memoirs of spousal loss, a specific subgenre of life writing in which, due to the loss of a loved one, the narrating self realizes how unstable a sense of autonomy is. In their bereavement narratives, Joan Didion, Anne Roiphe, and Joyce Carol Oates admit that after losing a life partner their world crumbled and so did their sense of self. The article examines the following aspects of the grieving self: 1. how grief tests one’s self-sufficiency; 2. how various grief reactions contribute to self-disintegration; 3. the widow as a new and undesirable identity; and 4. writing as a way of regaining one’s sense of self. ItemNarrating motherhood as experience and institution: Experimental life-writing in Mary Kelly’s "Post-Partum Document" (1973–79)(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2015) Wierzchowska, JustynaThis article explores American visual artist Mary Kelly’s autobiographical work Post-partum document in reference to the politics of life writing. Resorting to Lacanian psychoanalysis, a pastiche of scientific narratives and other (auto-)narrative strategies, in her work Kelly documented the first five years of her son’s life from his weaning from the breast until the day when he wrote his name. By documenting her child’s development, the artist also recorded the process of her own formation as a maternal subject, a formation gradually worked out through an evolving relationship with her son. In her work, the artist made vivid the incompatibility and limitations of various narrative frameworks in retelling a fundamentally relational experience that verges on the mental and bodily, and which is necessarily mediated by the patriarchal ideology. This article analyses Kelly’s conflicting narrative strategies that fail to successfully represent the mother-child formative relationship and which demonstrate the mother’s ideological alienation. It reads Kelly’s work politically, exploring the ways in which Post-partum document’s (auto-)narrative voices address questions and dilemmas of the feminine/maternal subject, the subject’s formation, and the limits of its (self-) representation within patriarchy. The article argues that Kelly challenges the traditional autobiographic genre by attending to her lived experience as a mother and the culturally repressed maternal desire. ItemTwo oral histories of the two first ladies: Jacqueline Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2015) Maj, EwaTwo successful women, Jacqueline Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson, influenced and were in turn influenced by the political careers of their husbands. An analysis of their oral histories, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy (released in 2011) and Lady Bird Johnson: An Oral History (2012), demonstrates that John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson became the first men of the American nation not only through their personal virtues, but also through the influence of their wives and who had a significant impact on their careers. Granted, both Jackie and Lady Bird extolled their husbands’ merits, stressing that they were “only” their wives; however, both First Ladies played an essential diplomatic and political role, ensuring their husbands’ physical and emotional well-being in private and public life. The article demonstrates how Jacqueline Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson promoted the positive images of their husbands’ terms in office via their oral histories and continued to do so after their deaths. Moreover, the article considers some important differences between the two histories. Jacqueline did not edit her previously authorized interviews, whereas Lady Bird made important changes to hers; furthermore, in direct contrast to Lady Bird, Jacqueline never wrote a memoir or autobiography, which makes her oral history the most valuable source on her views about her life and her husband’s career. ItemThe female experience of the Other(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2015) Owczarek, DorotaThe following paper deals with the problem of the transformation of the female self from the ethnocentric stage to the ethnorelative stage, as portrayed in Osa Johnson’s “autobiographical” account of her trips in the book I married adventure. The author attempts to show the metamorphosis of the protagonist by relating her experiences to the developmental model of cultural sensitivity, as proposed by M.J. Bennett. It is argued that the protagonist assumes the role of the Other in relation to her husband in the same way that indigenous people appear as the Other in relation to the protagonist. The slight yet detectable change in her perception of the Other constitutes an attempt to liberate herself from the position of the subordinate white female. ItemAffect and nostalgia in Eva Hoffman’s "Lost in Translation"(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2015) Kella, ElizabethThis article examines the affective terrain of Poland, Canada, and the US in Eva Hoffman’s autobiographical account of her migration and exile in Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language (1989), the text that launched Hoffman’s reputation as a writer and intellectual. Hoffman’s Jewish family left Poland for Vancouver in 1959, when restrictions on emigration were lifted. Hoffman was 13 when she emigrated to Canada, where she lived until she went to college in the US and began her career. Lost in Translation represents her trajectory in terms of “Paradise,” “Exile,” and “The New World,” and the narrative explicitly thematizes nostalgia. While Hoffman’s nostalgia for post-war Poland has sometimes earned censure from critics who draw attention to Polish anti-Semitism and the failings of Communism, this article stresses how Hoffman’s nostalgia for her Polish childhood is saturated with self-consciousness and an awareness of the politics of remembering and forgetting. Thus, Hoffman’s work helps nuance the literary and critical discourse on nostalgia. Drawing on theories of nostalgia and affect developed by Svetlana Boym and Sara Ahmed, and on Adriana Margareta Dancus’s notion of “affective displacement,” this article examines Hoffman’s complex understanding of nostalgia. It argues that nostalgia in Lost in Translation is conceived as an emotion which offers the means to critique cultural practices and resist cultural assimilation. Moreover, the lyricism of Hoffman’s autobiography becomes a mode for performing the ambivalence of nostalgia and diasporic feeling. ItemThe concept of the self in "Come Walk With Me: A Memoir" by Beatrice Mosionier(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2015) Rzepa, AgnieszkaBeatrice (Culleton) Mosionier is a Canadian Métis writer, whose first strongly autobiographical novel In Search of April Raintree (1983) has been recognized as a classic of contemporary Native Canadian literatures. Her memoir, Come Walk with Me (2009), describes her life story from 1949 till 1987, covering also the period between 1987 and 2001 in a brief epilogue. In the memoir, Mosionier uses fragments of the transcript of an interview conducted with her mother in 1984 by Alanis Obomsawin to preface the three parts of her book. Apart from constructing the two lives as parallel and in dialogue with one another, Mosionier frames and dialogises her story also through references to the process of writing, publication and the success of her novel; and reaches out to readers to induce them to “walk” with her. The aim of the present article is to examine the narrative presentation of the process of self-discovery focusing in particular on the relational aspects of the life story. Mosionier’s memoir demonstrates her growing into the realisation of the fact that her identity is relational—she recognizes herself as part of a larger ethnic and social group, and later also as shaped by familial relations. While depicting “the self [that] is dynamic, changing, and plural” (Eakin 1999: 98), she conceptualises it in reference to what she believes to be an essentially static core identity, and as “channelled” through a life that largely follows a predetermined pattern. ItemAddicted to the Holocaust – Bernice Eisenstein’s ways of coping with troublesome memories in "I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors"(Adam Mickiewicz University, 2015) Drewniak, DagmaraIn her I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors published in Canada in 2006, Bernice Eistenstein undertakes an attempt to cope with the inherited memories of the Holocaust. As a child of the Holocaust survivors, she tries to deal with the trauma her parents kept experiencing years after WWII had finished. Eisenstein became infected with the suffering and felt it inescapable. Eisenstein’s text, which is one of the first Jewish-Canadian graphic memoirs, appears to represent the voice of the children of Holocaust survivors not only owing to its verbal dimension, but also due to the drawings incorporated into the text. Therefore, the text becomes a combination of a memoir, a family story, a philosophical treatise and a comic strip, which all prove unique and enrich the discussion on the Holocaust in literature. For these reasons, the aim of this article is to analyze the ways in which Eisenstein deals with her postmemory, to use Marianne Hirsch’s term (1997 ), as well as her addiction to the Holocaust memories. As a result of this addiction, the legacy of her postmemory is both unwanted and desired and constitutes Bernice Eisenstein’s identity as the eponymous child of Holocaust survivors.