Between Nomadism and Rootedness: Literary Topography in the Writings of Joanna Bator, Grażyna Plebanek, and Olga Tokarczuk a talk by Justyna Zych, PhD
March 1, 2023 at 12:00PM (PDT) on ZOOM
ZOOM link: https://washington.zoom.us/j/91621751737
One of the main common themes in the literary work of Joanna Bator, Grażyna Plebanek, and Olga Tokarczuk is travel. Their mobile protagonists – travelers, multiple migrants, cosmopolitans – traverse countries and continents, driven by freedom aspirations, existential quests, longing for adventure and Otherness, or pure escapism. The biographies of all three authors have distinct nomadic traits too, which, to a large extent, explains the importance of spatial mobility in their writings. However, both in the writers’ lives and literary works, there is a visible tension between a constant urge to go on a journey and a strong attachment to certain places, or even a more and more pronounced desire to put down roots. Some cities, towns, or regions frequently return in their writings for being particularly significant on the authors’ personal maps. Each of the three writers embraces a different pattern towards the dichotomy between nomadism and rootedness. They turn to different genres and to various narrative strategies to convey their sense of the places which they depict. Mapping their literary works reveals a complex and fascinating topography of contemporary Polish women’s writing, which goes far beyond the traditional map of Polish literature.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr. Justyna Zych is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Polish Studies at the University of Warsaw, specializing in contemporary Polish and French literature. She received an M.A. in Polish Studies, an M.A. in French Studies, and a Ph.D. in Literary Studies from the University of Warsaw. She has studied and conducted research at several universities abroad, i.e. Sorbonne Université in Paris, Université de Genève in Switzerland, and University of Cambridge in the UK. She was a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto and at the University of Washington in Seattle, within the Fulbright Slavic Award. She has taught Polish language and culture at a number of universities in Europe and Asia, from Iceland to South Korea. She has published a monograph and more than 40 articles on contemporary Polish and French literature, and on methodology of teaching Polish culture to foreigners.