Interhuman History: How Magdalena Grzebałkowska Rewrites the Aftermath of World War II in Poland 1945: War and Peace
Prof. Beth Holmgren
February 17, 2021 at 6:00PM (PT) on ZOOM
About the lecture: Magdalena Grzebałkowska, an award-winning author of Polish reportaż — a fact-based genre in which writers exercise substantial creative license in their subject choices, plotting, style, and self-portrayal — has produced a 21st-century War and Peace strikingly different from and deliberately more disjointed than Lev Tolstoy’s great 19th-century novel. My talk introduces Grzebałkowska as one of the stars in Poland’s current publishing boom in reportaż. I explore how she collects and rewrites the experiences of not-so-ordinary eyewitnesses to the complex end and aftermath of World War II in a Poland with suddenly redrawn national borders. I compare Grzebałkowska’s subjects, plotting, and style with those of censored official accounts published by the newly established communist media in Poland and late 20th-century narratives of nationalist martyrdom reiterated by former enemies (Poles, Germans, Soviets). My talk ultimately poses the question of the artistic value and academic utility of reportaż vis-a-vis contemporary scholarly histories of the war.
About the Speaker: Beth Holmgren, a professor of Polish and Russian Studies at Duke University, holds secondary appointments in Theater Studies and Gender/Sexuality/Feminist Studies and is a core faculty member in Duke’s Jewish Studies Program. Holmgren has published widely on Polish literature, theater, film, and interwar cabaret; Russian literature, women’s studies, and popular culture; and Polish and Russian performers on stage and screen in North America.