Ricarda Fait-Bartholomäus

Ricarda Fait-Bartholomäus

Doctoral Researcher

Constructions of (Central) Europe in Polish Contemporary Literature

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Ricarda Fait-Bartholomäus has been a predoctoral researcher at „Europäische Zeiten / European Times – A Transregional Approach to the Societies of Central and Eastern Europe“ at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) since May 2021. She studied in the Cultures and Literatures of Central and Eastern Europe MA program, as well as musicology and Slavic languages and literatures for her BA, at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin from 2011 to 2018, with study visits to Wrocław and Poznań, in Poland. Her research interests include Polish literature after 1945 and concepts of Europe in literature.

Constructions of Central Europe in Contemporary Polish Literature: Phantoms and Revisions of a Mental Map

The doctoral project analyses contemporary Polish literature published between the historical turning points of the so-called ‘eastern enlargement’ of the EU in 2004 and Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The literature participates in an aesthetic, discursive and predominantly postcolonial construction of Central Europe (Europa Środkowa) as a ‘mental map’. Following the already widely received essays by Andrzej Stasiuk and Jurij Andruchovyč, new and current constructions of Central Europe will be considered. The aim of the project is to demonstrate continuations and rewritings of geopoetic imaginaries of Central Europe in Polish literary works. It highlights references to cultural or historical spatial phantoms such as ‘Kresy’ or Galicia, as well as critical revisions of cultural memory. In particular, the Jewish heritage of Central Europe and the absence of Jewish life as a consequence of the Shoah are dominant layers in recent constructions of Central Europe. The theoretical framework of the project is based on the concepts and dynamics of mental mapping, postcolonial criticism, and memory studies. It focuses on selected prose and poetry by Olga Tokarczuk, Tomasz Różycki and Ziemowit Szczerek. The works will be analysed by examining geopoetic strategies, using the results of ‘close reading’ and contextual analysis, particularly intertextual references.