- International Scholarshipv Polish Contributions, 2009–2012
A significant amount of recent Polish scholarship focuses on gender politics and ethnic studies, but work also continues on more traditional “canonical” themes. This mix of interests demonstrates that [End Page 470] Polish academia is well acquainted with and incorporates current trends in Americanist research. Because this essay surveys four years of scholarship, dates of publication are provided in each citation.
a. Topical Studies and Commemorative and Anniversary Volumes
Quo vadis America? Conceptualizing Change in American Democracy, ed. Bohdan Szklarski (Peter Lang, 2011), brings together essays on the current reconceptualization of the notion of democracy and the idea of belonging/deserving it in the collective American mind. As Szklarski aptly notes in the introduction to the volume, “In order to speculate about the future you must capture the dynamics of the present and understand the forces of the past that have driven that dynamics.” Subsequently, the essays range from strictly political in character, such as Irma Słomczyńska’s “Unilateral versus Multilateral: Strategic Cultures of the United States and the European Union in Contemporary World Order” (pp. 41–54) and Paweł Laidler’s “Security v. Freedom in the United States and European Union: Which Value Prevails in the 21st Century?” (pp. 85–97), cultural studies of contemporary Latino/a art (Grażyna Zygadło, “Americanos in Amexica: Modern Visions and Revisions of Latinos/as’ Presence in the U.S.,” pp. 101–16), to discussions covering the broad field of American values and utopias (Agnieszka Krukowska, “In Search for an American: American National Identity at the Turn of the 21st Century; Historiography of Americanness,” pp. 57–68). The multiplicity of perspectives represented in the volume demonstrates that America’s future is an intriguing and thought-provoking topic for researchers of American studies. Although the notion of an open society is one of the maxims of American democracy, the inclusion of certain groups in American culture continues to be problematic. For that reason academic involvement in the discussion is indispensable.
The Americanist: Warsaw Journal for the Study of the United States, vol. 26, Gender and Sexuality, ed. William Glass and Agnieszka Graff (Warsaw: American Studies Center, 2011), is devoted to the broadly understood aspects of gender and sexuality and their link to the American national identity. As the editors remark, “Gender is not just an aspect of national life, but an important axis along which national life is defined and negotiated.” The volume opens with an interview in which Elsa Barkley-Brown discusses different representations of African American women in American popular culture in the context of their traditional usage in racial and citizenship-related discourses, noting [End Page 471] recent contestations of these images by some artists that have been strengthened by the figure and dignified behavior of the current First Lady, Michelle Obama. The subsequent essays in the volume argue that issues of gender and sexuality, such as representation of pregnant female bodies in post-9/11 films, controversies over the gender dimension of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the context of collective memory, and the stigmatization of homosexual people during “the social war on AIDS,” are always connected to national political agendas.
Quilting Stories: Essays in Honor of Elżbieta H. Oleksy, ed. Marek Wojtaszek and Edyta Just (Lodz: Lodz University Press, 2012), is a collection of essays paying tribute to the academic expertise of this renowned Polish American and gender studies scholar. Oleksy, currently chair of the Department of Transatlantic and Media Studies and the founding director of Women’s Studies Center at the University of Lodz, has devoted her life to promoting women’s studies and American studies from the very beginning of their appearance on the Polish academic scene. Her work has been an ongoing effort to popularize the most recent trends in both disciplines. The festschrift is organized into two sections reflecting those interests, gender/women’s/feminist studies and American studies, both sections manifesting a diversity of critical perspectives. Themes appearing in the volume range from the description of life of the Massachusetts colony as reflected in John Adams’s diary (Magdalena Marczuk-Karbownik), Victorian sexual politics...