Allmän föreläsning med prof. Sławomir Jacek Żurek.

Titel: Shoah in Polish literature after 2000. The Newest Generation of Polish Writers and Holocaust (Post)Memory

The theme of lecture is connected with contemporary Polish prose which takes up the theme of the Shoah after the year 2000, already in twenty-first century. In the last twenty years, more than two hundred literary works, theatrical performances and films referring to the Holocaust and different attitudes of Poles towards the Holocaust have appeared. The authors of these works belong to the generations of middle-aged and young people, frequently, but not exclusively, from Jewish families. Their artistic visions often reveal what subsequent generations of Poles are struggling with, namely the trauma associated with the Holocaust which concerns all citizens of the Republic of Poland, regardless of whether they want somebody included or not.

In the lecture Shoah in Polish literature after 2000 the most recent Polish fiction (that by the authors belonging to the second and third generation after the Holocaust) will be represented by the novels by Piotr Paziński (born in 1973) – Pensjonat (‘Pension’, 2009); Igor Ostachowicz (born in 1968) – Noc żywych Żydów (‘The Night of the Living Jews’, 2012); Mariusz Sieniewicz (born in 1972) – Żydówek nie obsługujemy (‘We Don’t Serve Jewesses’ 2006), Piotr Szewc (born in 1961) – and his series of books: Zagłada (‘Annihilation’, 1987), Zmierzchy i poranki (‘Evenings and Mornings’, 2001) and Bociany nad powiatem (‘Storks over the District’, 2005). The analysis will employ three categories which structure this literary reality: 1) Reconstruction (A narrative and plot procedure that serves to build the reader's awareness of what the Shoah was and what significance for the present day can be attributed to it. It performs in the work of authors who themselves did not witnesses the Shoah, so they absorbed the memory of it in a mediated manner (thanks to the knowledge of history and cultural artefacts); 2) Subversion (An artistic strategy of shifting meanings, aimed at deconstructing the fixed forms of memory of Shoah. Writers do this by means of aesthetic-axiological provocations, taboos, criticizing pathos and kitsch, exposing stereotypes, as well as pop culture clichés) and 3) Transfiguration (an artistic strategy based on the distribution of Shoah realities in a literary text concerning contemporary times or the past, thus combining two temporal and semantic orders).


Foto av prof. Sławomir Jacek Żurek.
Prof. Sławomir Jacek Żurek

Prof. Sławomir Jacek Żurek is professor and head of the Centre for Polish-Jewish Literature Studies, as well as director of the International Centre for Research of the History and Cultural Heritage of the Central and Eastern Europe Jews at The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin. He has published widely on Jewish motifs in Polish literature and Polish-Jewish literature in Israel. He is a member of the Polish Society for Jewish Studies, the Council of the Polish Episcopate’s Committee for Dialogue with Judaism, and the Polish Council of Christians and Jews. In 2002-03, he held a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Notre Dame.