WRITING THE HISTORY OF THE EAST-CENTRAL EUROPEAN LITERARY CULTURES: A RETROSPECT (Pisanie Dejin literarnych kultur vychodo-strednej Europy: Retrospektiva.)
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The article recounts the experience from the cooperation with Professor John Neubauer on the collective work History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe, which was produced by more than a hundred contributors from various countries. The work's aim is to map the 'literary ethnographies' of East-Central Europe, a region that at its best has functioned as a 'transitional, transmittory and liminal' area between variously positioned cultures and influences. This multivolume work was sponsored by ICLA and published by John Benjamins Press in 2004-2010. The project was inspired by the comparative-intercultural approach to the literary history outlined in Mario J. Valdes and Linda Hutcheon's position paper in 1995 and applied to the sister project on Latin American Literatures. Building on the theoretical suggestions offered by them, we decided to organize our history around five kinds of 'nodes'-temporal, generic, topographic, institutional, and figural-conceived by us and our contributors as points of contact or interfaces at which various literatures, genres, and historical moments come together, transcending national definitions. The nodal approach has offered us a more flexible model for the discussion of literature in a continually shifting geo-political and cultural environment such as that of the East-Central Europe. The work undertaken in the History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe will, hopefully, foreground alternative ways of identity making in the area, which emphasize local, regional and trans-national possibilities.
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