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Anita Jarczok

Abstract

This essay analyses the life narratives of two European women - Anaїs Nin’s Diary and Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation - in order to investigate how their transition to North America affected their sense of self. It emphasises the key role that language and narrative play in the formation of identity, and argues that both writers reinvented themselves both in their adopted language and in writing.

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Przemysław Tajsner

Abstract

The paper offers a consistently derivational account of Polish predicational and specificational copular clauses with the occurrence of a particle to instead of a verbal copula być (‘be’). The particle to is given the status of a predicative head with the potential of designating a phrase in its c-command domain as a specification predicate. Such a phrase is then interpreted as the focus at the C-I interface. Thus, a view is promoted in which the focus, a category of information structure, is not directly coded in narrow syntax, but is rather an interpretive outcome of a more general syntactic relation, referred to as Specification Predication. This view has been inspired by Kiss’s (2006, 2010) idea that focusing is predication but it substantially differs from her approach. The analysis is limited to copular-to clauses, but it is suggested to have a potential for the account of two more syntactic types with the occurrence of the particle to, namely, so-called to-clefts, and topic-to sentences.

The proposal advanced in the paper is confronted with three earlier accounts dealing with copular-to clauses, and is shown to avoid some empirical and conceptual problems they have posed. It is shown how the derivation of copular-to clauses proceeds through a sequence of minimal and well-defined steps starting from the formation of an array of two nominal phrases, through a Small Clause stage to a Specification Predicative Phrase. Couched in the recent minimalist framework, the analysis specifically dwells on the theoretical advancements determining the nature of syntactic derivations, such as Hornstein’s (2009) distinctions between operations Concatenate, Merge and Label, Moro’s (2000, 2008) idea of Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking or Chomsky’s (2013) view of Labeling.

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Justyna Wierzchowska

Abstract

This article explores American visual artist Mary Kelly’s autobiographical work Post-partum document in reference to the politics of life writing. Resorting to Lacanian psychoanalysis, a pastiche of scientific narratives and other (auto-)narrative strategies, in her work Kelly documented the first five years of her son’s life from his weaning from the breast until the day when he wrote his name. By documenting her child’s development, the artist also recorded the process of her own formation as a maternal subject, a formation gradually worked out through an evolving relationship with her son. In her work, the artist made vivid the incompatibility and limitations of various narrative frameworks in retelling a fundamentally relational experience that verges on the mental and bodily, and which is necessarily mediated by the patriarchal ideology. This article analyses Kelly’s conflicting narrative strategies that fail to successfully represent the mother-child formative relationship and which demonstrate the mother’s ideological alienation. It reads Kelly’s work politically, exploring the ways in which Post-partum document’s (auto-)narrative voices address questions and dilemmas of the feminine/maternal subject, the subject’s formation, and the limits of its (self-) representation within patriarchy. The article argues that Kelly challenges the traditional autobiographic genre by attending to her lived experience as a mother and the culturally repressed maternal desire.

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Agnieszka Łobodziec

Abstract

Black American women writers were side-lined by the literary canon as recently as the 1980s. Today, as a result of their agency, a distinct literary tradition that bears witness to black women’s particular expressiveness is recognized. Bernard Bell observes that the defining features common to most literary works by black American women are a focus on racist oppression, black female protagonists, the pursuit of demarginalization, women’s bonding, women’s relationship with the community, the power of emotions, and black female language. Although these elements refer predominantly to novels, they are also present in Paule Marshall’s memoir Triangular Road (2009) and Gloria Naylor’s fictionalized memoir 1996 (2005). Moreover, the two works are fitting examples of racial art, the point of departure of which, according to Black Arts Movement advocates, should be the black experience. Actually, since through memoirs the authors offer significant insights into themselves, the genre seems closer to this objective of racial art than novels. At the same time, taking into consideration the intricate plot structures, vivid images, and emotional intensity, their memoirs evidence the quality of literariness i.e., in formalist terms, the set of features that distinguish texts from non-literary ones, for instance, reports, articles, text books, and encyclopaedic biographical entries. Moreover, Marshall and Naylor utilize creative imagination incorporating fabulation, stories within stories, and people or events they have never personally encountered, which dramatizes and intensifies the experiences they relate. In Marshall’s memoir, the fictitious elements are discernable when she imagines the historical past. Naylor demarks imagined narrative passages with separate sections that intertwine with those based upon her actual life experience.

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Małgorzata Myk

Abstract

The paper discusses radicalized aesthetics and politics of structure and form in the experimental autobiographical writing of American avant-garde author Leslie Scalapino. Associated with the innovative protocols of the “Language School” poetry movement, Scalapino’s oeuvre emerges as simultaneously a poststructuralist and phenomenologically oriented poetics in which writing performs a thoroughgoing scrutiny of how one’s implication in linguistic and cultural matrices determines one’s being in the world. Scalapino’s Autobiography, framed by Paul de Man’s remarks on autobiographical writing as always controlled by the external expectations of self-fashioning, sets out to examine and deconstruct the autobiographical project as in itself constructive of one’s life. In Zither the poet complicates her take on life-writing by interrogating and reconceptualizing hidden mechanisms of the genre and confronting it with its own fictional status, while in Dahlia’s iris Scalapino juxtaposes detective fiction with a Tibetan form of written “secret autobiography”, based on a radical departure from the chronology of one’s biography toward a phenomenological horizon of what she refers to as “one’s life seeing”, a practice of attempting to see one’s mind’s constructions as they are formed by the outside as well as by one’s internalization of the outside.

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Dorota Owczarek

Abstract

The following paper deals with the problem of the transformation of the female self from the ethnocentric stage to the ethnorelative stage, as portrayed in Osa Johnson’s “autobiographical” account of her trips in the book I married adventure. The author attempts to show the metamorphosis of the protagonist by relating her experiences to the developmental model of cultural sensitivity, as proposed by M.J. Bennett. It is argued that the protagonist assumes the role of the Other in relation to her husband in the same way that indigenous people appear as the Other in relation to the protagonist. The slight yet detectable change in her perception of the Other constitutes an attempt to liberate herself from the position of the subordinate white female.

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Małgorzata Poks

Abstract

Using the U.S.-Mexican border as the place of enunciation, Cantú’s autoethnobiographical novel insists on the materiality of the border, especially for those living on its southern side, while simultaneously deconstructing it as artificial - a line splitting families and assigning nationalities on an arbitrary basis. Being a collage of photographs from the time the writer was growing up in southern Texas and the cuentos inspired by these visuals, Cantú’s Canícula documents how border crossings and re-crossings become symptomatic of living in a liminal space and how they destabilize the concept of nationality as bi-national families must learn to live with ambiguity. On the one hand, there is the undeniable materiality of the border, with its pain, fear, deportations, and other discriminatory practices; on the other, there is a growing border community of resistance cultivating the memory that they are not immigrants, that they lived in Texas before the Guadalupe-Hidalgo treaty. The paper examines the community’s strategies of survival in the contested cultural and social space and advances the thesis that, giving her community an awareness of its homogeneity and reclaiming its place within the larger socio-political context, Cantú becomes an agent of empowerment and change. She helps decolonize knowledge and being.

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Agnieszka Rzepa

Abstract

Beatrice (Culleton) Mosionier is a Canadian Métis writer, whose first strongly autobiographical novel In Search of April Raintree (1983) has been recognized as a classic of contemporary Native Canadian literatures. Her memoir, Come Walk with Me (2009), describes her life story from 1949 till 1987, covering also the period between 1987 and 2001 in a brief epilogue. In the memoir, Mosionier uses fragments of the transcript of an interview conducted with her mother in 1984 by Alanis Obomsawin to preface the three parts of her book. Apart from constructing the two lives as parallel and in dialogue with one another, Mosionier frames and dialogises her story also through references to the process of writing, publication and the success of her novel; and reaches out to readers to induce them to “walk” with her. The aim of the present article is to examine the narrative presentation of the process of self-discovery focusing in particular on the relational aspects of the life story. Mosionier’s memoir demonstrates her growing into the realisation of the fact that her identity is relational-she recognizes herself as part of a larger ethnic and social group, and later also as shaped by familial relations. While depicting “the self [that] is dynamic, changing, and plural” (Eakin 1999: 98), she conceptualises it in reference to what she believes to be an essentially static core identity, and as “channelled” through a life that largely follows a predetermined pattern.

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Magdalena Ładuniuk

Abstract

Alice Munro has always been known for reworking personal material in her stories. On numerous occasions she openly admitted to adopting some of her real experiences into her fiction, yet at the same time she declared that her writing remains fictional, not autobiographical. However, the writer’s attitude seems to have changed with the publication of Dear Life (2012), supposedly the last book in her career. In the note preceding the last four stories in the collection, she suggests that they might constitute her autobiography.

This article discusses “The Eye,” “Night,” “Voices” and “Dear Life” in relation to Munro’s biography. It reflects on the narrative techniques the author uses to create the impression of authenticity and autobiographicality in the stories. It also aims to answer the question whether they should be indeed classified as Munro’s autobiography.

Open access

Tamás Fekete

Abstract

With this paper I wish to investigate the nature of code-mixing found in English place names chiefly, though not exclusively, from the Danelaw area. The paper analyses this code-mixing in the frame-work of contact linguistics in the light of the contact situation between Old English and Old Norse, as described by Townend (2002) and Lutz (2013), that existed from the 8th century onwards, bearing in mind, however, that the Scandinavian place names may not necessarily be direct indicators of the nature and extent of the Scandinavian settlement itself. Historical code-switching usually and generally focuses on describing intersentential and intrasentential code-switching, and this paper aims at broadening the overall scope of the investigation through the inclusion of onomastics.

The analysis will be chiefly based on a corpus of 1,915 relevant place-names, with the data drawn from the Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names (Mills 1998), and Fellows-Jensen’s regional studies on Scandinavian place-names in England (Fellows-Jensen 1972, 1978, 1985). The primary focus of the investigation will be those place names which

  • contain both Scandinavian and English elements,

  • used to contain at least one Scandinavian or English element which was replaced by an element from the other language,

  • contain at least one element which underwent a transformation to accommodate to the phonological system of the other language and

  • contain elements which could belong to either of the languages but cannot be decided with absolute certainty.

In this paper I also argue that names (specifically the above mentioned place-names) can conform to Muysken’s (2000) category of congruent lexicalization and that word-internal code-switching, and CS in general, is in fact a phenomenon that can occur in the case of hybrid place-names.