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Gendering Migration and Reading Literature

February 2nd at 5pm

Gendering Migration: Women’s Writing, Displacement and Melancholy: Lecture on Selected Aspects of Polish Contemporary Literature


Urszula Chowaniec

(Language and Culture, UCL SSEES)

Discussant: Ursula Phillips (Honorary Research Associate of UCL SSEES)


AtSt. Antony’s College at University of Oxford lecture within the series of talks within the theme of

 Who are the Poles and where’s Poland? Ethnic, civic, and cultural identities and frontiers in modern Poland

See the details HERE



European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Rd, Oxford OX2 6HR



“What will be born, what can be born in Poland, in the souls of a ruined and brutalized people when one day (in the future) the new order that has stifled the old one disappears and nothing follows” – asked Witold Gombrowicz about Poland after communism in his Diary of 1953. This “nothing,” sounding both pessimistic and intriguing, is a time of transition, revolution and transformation. From nothing many things can be created. Indeed, the year of 1989 can be seen as giving Polish prose an unique opportunity to create new characters, new stories that would not conform to any political or ideological standards and expectations. Also, the year of 2004, the beginning of a new Europe with apparently no borders, brought a new notion of freedom, especially for the new migrating writers. Yet, there are fears, disappointments and failures that accompanied this time of hope. How did the post-1989 political and social changes influenced Polish literature? Does gender matter in evaluating these impacts and diagnosing the literary phenomena? If so – how? How did women writing respond to the time of change? And finally, is there anything more to melancholy than the mourning after unspecified loss?


The lecture will focus on the contemporary, post-1989 Polish literature and it will discuss the new understanding of emigration and migration in literary studies, the traces/inscriptions on migration in the texts written by women as well as the gendered aspects of migration and the “power” of melancholy.


See also: about forthcoming book by dr Urszula Chowaniec


Polish Summer School – Discussing an Adventure (Friday October 31, 2014 at 4pm)

Why Polish Language? Why Polish Summer School? Why Spend Summer in Poland? 

come for a discussion and sharing experience over a glass of wine

31st of October at 4 pm 

at UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, room 432

16 Taviton Street London WC1H 0BW (Bloomsbury Campus)

Within the program: Presentation by Hannah Phillips (a participant of the 2014 Summer School), discussion and sharing experinces as well as a small reception afterward.

What is Angelus Silesius House (ASH)?

The ASH is a non-governmental education and training centre. It sees itself as a meeting place for personal and professional development as it works with young people from various religious backgrounds, nationalities and cultures. There are many ways in which you can get involved. As an NGO they work locally with young people in Poland that have had a difficult start in life, running short-term and long-term schemes which vary across the year. They also work with foreign students in and out of Poland. Their summer school project aims to promote Polish language and culture whilst breaking down embedded prejudices and stereotypes associated with Poland. Slide01 Their summer school only lasted 10 days this year, so for those of you who are looking for something more long-term they also provide voluntary services. Since 2001 they have taken part in the European Voluntary Service (EVS) programme, which runs projects that can last between 2 to 12 months. In this way, you can develop your language skills, gain insider knowledge on the inner workings of NGOs and gain a new qualification. In all of their projects, including the voluntary service, participants receive free accommodation, food, insurance and pocket money. The only thing you might have to pay is a small part of your travel costs. All of this is on their website. Slide10To best illustrate this organisation’s work and the opportunities it offer, I will guide you through some of the activities they arranged whilst I was participating in their summer school project. (Hannah Phillips)

Opinion of Klaudia Konkolova (a participant of 2014 Summer School):

Between 10th– 20th September, 2014 I had the chance to participate in a wonderful project: Szkoła letnia z Polską II in the beautiful historic city of Wrocław. The project was co-funded by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerstwo Spraw Zagranicznych) and organised by the Dom Spotkań im. Angelusa Silesiusa. 23 students studying Polish language from different partner universities all over Europe were given the opportunity to discover Polish culture from within and improve their language skills by attending professionally taught language classes and communicating with each other and the Polish organisers in Polish. The language skills improvement is not the only positive achievement we will be bringing home. The visits organised at different important institutions based in Wrocław gave us an insightful look into the contemporary situation in Poland, the lecture by the famous Polish language specialist prof. Jan Miódek made us appreciate more that even though in Europe we speak so many different languages, at the heart we all belong into one Indo-European group*, we visited the vibrant city of Łodź over the weekend, and even got a first-hand experience in film-making! The accommodation and food was provided for. Even up to 70% of the travel expenses were covered by the organisation. It is a pity, we only had ten days for uncovering the marvels of Polish cuisine, which is really savoury and manifold. Personally, I would be up for trying out of a new type of pierogi andzapiekanka every day. Last but not least, the people participating on the project were all very friendly, open, tolerant and keen on meeting new people and getting to know them better and making friends with them was perhaps the most valuable outcome from the whole project. *With the exception of Finnish, Hungarian, and Estonian, which belong to the Finno-Ugric group.

New Joanna Rajkowska/ the UCL Project – discussion

on Thursday, the 29th of May Joanna Rajkowska in discussion with Urszula Chowaniec and Tim Beasley-Murray will present her  new Project The Light of the Lodge


UCL Roberts G08 Sir David Davies Lecture Theatre, Roberts Building, Malet Place

All are welcome, open free event, no registration needed


The Light of The Lodge

(in London)


Ideas behind the project:

London’s fears and the idea of university.

London is a city of fear. Fear of conflagration, fear of conflict, fear of perceived potential risk to society, community or individuals. And fear of offence or abuse. Risk assessments and certification for everything. Following September 11, new anti-terrorist laws that can be used/abused for anything. The issue of political and social “Health and Safety” is now an irreducible part of London’s identity. It has devastating effects for the public realm: protecting people from themselves, from thinking and from social responsibility. Constant surveillance is just one of its symptoms.

The University, as a community of academics, should be an oasis of freethinking and unconstrained research. Holding up the fire, the visibility of the flames on the roofs of the UCL buildings could be a symbolic response. To say – nothing will stop us from reasoning and comprehending. We are not afraid of freethinking. We are responsible for the intellectual outcome of our research and the consequences of it.

Fire, because of its link with Freemasonry, also offers another line of reading.

Knowledge and understanding are indispensable, but they are not the only way of solving multilayered social problems. We have to acknowledge the incomprehensible needs people have, like their love for obscure rituals, spells or magic.

The origins of the project

The University College London was founded by Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773–1843), Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, (1813–1843). He laid the foundation stone of the new university on 30th April 1827. The corner stone reads as follows (translated from Latin):

To God’s favour the greatest and best, eternal architect of the universe may it bring you happiness and good fortune at the beginning of the eighth year of the reign of King George IV of Britain the most highest prince Augustus Frederick Duke of Sussex patron of all the fine arts the oldest order of architecture the highest among the English the foundation stone of the London University between city state [i.e. citizens] and brothers standing around will be placed by his hand to applause.

Day before the day before the Kalends of May

The work of God desired by the most fortunate citizens of this town has begun at last in the year of human greeting 1827 and in the year of light 5827.

In the name of these most illustrious men who are present and with the guidance of Henry Duke of Norfolk, Henry Marquis of Lansdown, Lord John Russell, John, Viscount Dudley and Ward, George, Baron Auckland, the Hon. James Abercrombie and Sir James Macintosh, Alexander Baring, Henry Bougham, Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, George Grote, Zachary Macaulay, Benjamin Shaw, William Tooke, Henry Waymouth, George Birkbeck, Thomas Campbell, Olinthus Gregory, Joseph Hume, James Mill, John Smith, Henry Warburton, John Wishaw, Thomas Wilson, and William Wilkins, architect.

The Freemasons remain a secret society devoted to education, charity and the Enlightenment legacy on one hand and having a clandestine heritage and mysterious symbolic structure on the other. Freemasons continue to have a hidden, pervasive presence in many professions, including education.

The Light of the Lodge, being a project devised to explore the nature of the University as a community of scholars and academics, will try to reveal the dark powers of the institution, albeit in a rather humorous way. What is the other side of the coin of education and enlightenment? How does the university foster the irrational and the obscure? How does it sneak into the daily life of the institution? What is the role of women in it?

Regarding the Freemasons presence, influence and legacy, the project asks about the function of the masonic lodges and their current mission, and whether the ideals of the Enlightenment represented by the masonic movement are still as vivid and progressive as 200 years ago. Furthermore, it asks whether this distinctly European product is able to accompany the continent in its current transformations and set up a direction. If yes – what is this direction?

Project outline:

  •        Performance: Women with flaming torches on the top of their heads, standing on the top of the plinths in front of the UCL main building
  •        Performance: Torches installed in front of the façade of the main UCL building
  •        Performance: Sheet of iron with the text from the foundation stone cut out, positioned over a fire, so that flames go through the letters
  •        Publication: The Alternative Guide to the UCL – an unorthodox collection of night guards stories about the secret life of the university buildings, interspersed with maps of strange appearances, drawings, bits of unusual research by UCL academics and some of the more extreme biographies of UCL graduates.
  •        Workshop: a guided tour of the Freemasonry Museum and Library, a visit to the Masonic Lodge in the Andaz Hotel


The Project has been conducted with SSEES UCL (eMigrating Ladscapes Project) and the UCL Art Museum

29 May, 2014: UCL Festival of the Arts and Polish Posters Exhibition

Kaja do druku na UCL

The POLSKA series is a summary of artistic expressions from an unfinished cycle of work RYSZARD KAJA has been developing since 2011 for the Polish Poster Gallery in Wrocław. Whilst drawing upon the tradition of the tourist poster, the artist depicts Poland from a very personal point of view.

Among the collection of more than 50 posters you will find works representing big cities such as Łódź or Poznań, towns like Szamotuły and the village Warnowo, national parks, flora and fauna (from the Sudety mountain range), geography (the Baltic Sea, the Vistula river), and places incredibly important to Polish culture and folklore (Kurpie), tradition (Zaduszki) and history (Gliwice).

In his artistic practice Kaja plays with the traditional forms of poster art, whilst at the same time keeping his unique aesthetics, drawing upon Art Deco, Secession, Socialist Realism, Constructivism and the Polish School of Posters.

The exhibition and the project reflect the artist’s interest in the theme of the journey, a continuous wandering and searching. For Kaja the journey transcends borders as well as himself, and offers an exceptional perspective through which he scrutinizes the observed reality.

The collection of posters is a continuation of the previous threads present in Kaja’s works, in particular his ink paintings.

The artist plans to expand his work into a series entitled THE WORLD.

During the UCL festival of the Arts’ all day exhibition viewers will have an opportunity to see unique posters selected by the artist and curators and enjoy a WINE RECEPTION from 6pm to 7pm.


Ryszard Kaja was born in 1962 in Poznań. He is a graduate of Poznań Academy of Fine Arts. He is a painter, graphic, stage and interior designer.

He created more than 150 set designs for theatre, ballet, opera, television and film   productions, and collaborated with many established directors and choreographers.

His main passion, besides theatre, is poster art. In this area he continues his family     tradition, his father, Zbigniew Kaja, being one of the most important representatives of the world renowned Polish School of Poster, his mother Stefania was a painter.

His posters are mostly based on paintings which in these days dominated by computer design could be regarded as “outdated”, but from the esthetical perspective they have more in common with the productions for which they were made. Kaja’s fascination with the baroque and with Bohumil Hrabal’s prose makes his art additionally exceptional and unique.


29th MAY 2014, 12 pm – 9 pm, Roberts Foyer, Roberts Engineering Building, Malet Place, WC1E 6BT


Curators: Agnieszka Szara and Dominika Akuszewska (PLAY FULL http://www.playfull.info)

In collaboration with: dr Urszula Chowaniec (SEES) Krzysztof Marcinkiewicz (Polish Poster Gallery Wroclaw)




Kaja UCL do druku 2

Save the date May 21, 2014: Holocaust Survivors Revisiting Eastern Europe

UCL Department for Hebrew and Jewish Studies in cooperation with the INSTITUTE OF POLISH-JEWISH STUDIES, LONDON




21 MAY 2014, 5-8 PM


UCL, Gower Street
Pearson Lecture Theatre G22

Prof. Shimon Redlich (Ben Gurion University) Prof. Antony Polonsky (Brandeis University) Prof. Gabriel Finder (University of Virginia) Dr. François Guesnet (UCL)

Małgorzata Dawidek Gryglicka

Malgorzata Dawidek Gryglicka’s artistic and academic interests combine literature, anthropology and visual arts. She deals with the language aspect of communication. From this perspective, she analyzes issues of language awareness, the borders and possibilities of language, as well as the human body and corporeality perceived as a reality text. She uses texts of the body to talk about organic physicality, which appears to be a continuous narration, the text in process, polymorphic stories. She is interested in the limit states of the body, aspects of gender, inexpressible emotions, physical limitations and mental blockages.



Małgorzata at the UCL Festival of the Arts here 


Malgorzata Dawidek Gryglicka isavisual artist, Polish born, based in London. She studied Painting (1996-2001) and Art Criticism (1997-2002) at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, Poland and hold a PhD in art history from the Institute of Art History at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (2009). Between 2004 and 2007 she was an academic teacher in Institute of History of Art at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań and Professor Assistant in Department of Painting at Academy of Fine Art in Poznań, Poland. Since 2013 she is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of European Culture at The Polish University Abroad in London.

Dawidek Gryglicka’s artistic and academic interests combine literature, anthropology and visual arts. She deals with the language aspect of communication – the relationship between words and their visual representations, their designata. From this perspective, she analyzes issues of language awareness, the borders and possibilities of language, as well as the human body and corporeality perceived as a reality text. She uses texts of the body to talk about organic physicality, which appears to be a continuous narration, the text in process, polymorphic stories. She is interested in the limit states of the body, aspects of gender, inexpressible emotions, physical limitations and mental blockages.

Malgorzata combines a wide range of media in the creation of her projects – textual objects and installations, painting, animation, photographs, written drawings and hypertexts which are then displayed in galleries, public spaces and as published works of art and record.

Her relevant artistic achievements include solo shows in the most influential galleries [Bialystok BWA Gallery, Foksal Gallery in Warsaw] and museums [Wroclaw Contemporary Museum] in Poland, as well as participation in numerous group’s projects in Poland, Slovakia, Germany and Spain. In 2013, she took a part in a key event – The Culture for the Eastern Partnership Congress in Lublin. In 2012, she was chosen to participate in the prestigious Curators’ NETWORK project, the goal of which is to support the work of an international group of artists and curators selected by a jury of prominent critics from various European countries. In 2014 she was selected to take a part in SOMETIMES Artistic Residency, The Art House, Wakefield, UK.

She is also a researcher of visual literature and the author of numerous articles, studies and books on visual texts, including “A Piece of Poetry” (Krakow-Warsaw 2012) and “History of the visual text. Poland after 1967″ (Wroclaw-Krakow-Warsaw 2012), which was awarded of the National Centre of Culture in Poland Prize for the for the best doctoral dissertation in the field of culture studies (2010).

Malgorzata Dawidek Gryglicka was awarded artistic grants from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (2002, 2010), the “Young Poland” Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage scholarship for young artists (2012), the Mayor of Poznan award (2005) and The Pollock-Krasner Foundation artistic grant (2004-2005).


www.dawidek.art.pl, contact@dawidek.art.pl,

Ewa Lipska


Born in 1945 in Kraków, Ewa Lipska was for many years the poetry editor of the literary magazine Pismo, which she co-founded, and was active in Poland’s Nowa Fala, or New Wave. Her many prizes include the Kościelski Award, the Robert Graves PEN Club Award, and PEN Club Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement. Her poetry has been widely translated, into Hebrew as well as into European languages.

(photo by Danuta Wegiel)

Find more at:

Ewa Lipska page here